Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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Worcester native has active screen life in locally

Not only does Steve Gagliastro pop up in the new trailer for the George Clooney-directed movie “The Tender Bar,” starring Ben Affleck, the Worcester native has a speaking scene in it.
In “The Tender Bar,” Gagliastro plays a regular barfly at a neighborhood dive where Affleck bartends. At the 30-second mark, the two actors have a four-line, back-and-forth exchange that made it in the trailer.
“Hey, whose kid is that?” Gagliastro asks Affleck.
“My sister’s,” Affleck answers.
“Which sister?” Gagliastro questions. “The hot one or the crazy one?”
“What?” a smirking Affleck snaps, as he pours a Scotch. “Do you want to die?”
The scene ends with Affleck sliding the stiff drink down the bar, which magically transforms into a root beer float that lands in the hand of his young nephew.
“I said to myself, ‘Well, I bet there’s a small percentage of a chance that particular part of the line would get in the trailer, being as a voiceover,’” Gagliastro said. “I was very surprised that the whole line got in.”
Gagliastro said one of the nice things about “The Tender Bar” was being a fly on the wall and having the rare opportunity to see Affleck and Cooney drop their celebrity personas and just be ordinary guys.
“Between setting up shots, Ben and George were having this great, intense conversation on Jackson Browne and one of them would start singing one of his (Browne’s) song, while the other would pick it up and knew all the lyrics,” Gagliastro recalled. “I got to be just a few feet from this moment between these two guys, these two mega, Batman celebrities, just a couple of dudes, talking about their love of Jackson Browne. You can’t buy experiences like that. It was very cool.”
Although it looks like his scene was filmed in a bar, it was actually shot on a soundstage at New England Studios in Devens.
“If you closed your eyes and they walked you in, you wouldn’t know that you weren’t in a bar,” Gagliastro said of filming at New England Studios. “It’s really well-constructed because they have it in a way that they can remove certain parts and move things around so they can get the camera to cover all the angles. The craftsmanship is amazing.”
“The Tender Bar” isn’t Gagliastro’s only film project of late.
He has appeared in six high-profile projects that have been filmed in part in Worcester including Amazon Prime’s “The Tender Bar,” Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up,” Apple +’s “Spirited,” HBO Max’ “Julia” Vertical Entertainment’s “Ava” and Sony Pictures’ “American Hustle” – but none of his scenes have been filmed in Worcester.
“I think they’re afraid that I’m going to go home for lunch and not come back,” Gagliastro jokes as for the reason why he can’t get to film a scene in his hometown.
He was at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston for the first day of filming for “Spirited,” a musical reimagining of “A Christmas Carol” starring Hollywood hunk Ryan Reynolds and SNL funnyman Will Ferrell.
Gagliastro is very familiar with the original Charles Dickens source material.
Last year, due to COVID, Gagliastro played a masked “Pandemic Scrooge” in a “filmed theatrical production” of “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” at Worcester’s BrickBox Theater.
And, this year, Gagliastro and his wife, Annie Kerins, are serving as associate musical director and associate choreographer respectively for “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 15 through 23, at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.
“This year, we’re finally putting ‘A Christmas Carol’ back on the main stage,” Gagliastro said.
A Grafton Hill native who graduated from Rice Square Elementary School, East Middle School and Holy Name High School, Gagliastro is Worcester State University Visual and Performing Arts adjunct faculty member and voice instructor.
He is also the first runner-up in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s Sound of Winning contest.
Despite doing “A Christmas Carol” numerous times and having a “very wide vocal range” and being a “superior sight singer” (according to his résumé), Gagliastro barely opens his mouth in the “Spirited” scene, let alone sing.
For his scene in “Don’t Look Up,” a film starring three-time Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep, two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Gagliastro went against the title’s advice and looked up.
“These scientists (DiCaprio and Lawrence) are trying to tell the world this asteroid is coming to the earth and they’re trying to mount a response,” Gagliastro said. “So I’m literally an onlooker looking up and looking at some of the goings-on that I can’t really speak of.”
For “Ava,” starring Jessica Chastain, Gagliastro said most of his scene ended up on the cutting room floor.
“In my scene I played Geena Davis’ nurse and I had this whole scene back and forth with (rapper-turned-actor) Common,” Gagliastro said. “You literally see me step out and walk away with a clapboard. You only see my back. So much of my stuff was cut but they were kind enough to leave me in the credits.”
In “American Hustle,” Gagliastro and fellow Bay State actor Chris Tarjan played, respectively, agents Schmidt and Stock, or as the film’s director David O. Russell called them, “the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of ‘American Hustle.’”
While they did film a scene in Boston, Gagliastro and Tarjan came close to filming one in Worcester. The two actors went to the base camp set up in Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann’s Church parking lot.
“It was the day they went shooting at the Worcester Art Museum,” Gagliastro recalled. “But David O. Russell or the script changed. So we actually got to the trailer, got in costume, went to lunch…And they didn’t use us that day. That’s the closest I got to filming in Worcester.”
Gagliastro, who also filmed a scene for the new HBO Max series called “Julia” about Julia Child, read for a scene in “Kevin Can F**k Himself,” an AMC series that takes place in Worcester but not filmed anywhere near Worcester.
In the scene, Gagliastro played a would-be john who mistaken the main character, Allison (“Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy), as a prostitute and offers her $200 to perform a sex act.
Gagliastro, who didn’t get the part, points out that his father was retired Worcester Public Health Director John A. Gagliastro, who died on Dec. 30, 2019. So he’s well aware that $200 is an exorbitant fee for around here.
In addition to being an accent specialist, superior sight singer and a skilled trombonist, Gagliastro also lists stage combat, professional puppeteer and pigeon handling as some of his special skills.
“I’ve been stalked by Ninja pigeon puppets in the past,” Gagliastro jokes.
As for earning the offbeat skill as pigeon handler, Gagliastro said he did a commercial for the former Coastway Community Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, a number of years ago and played a bank manager who slips money into a little backpack being worn by a trained pigeon.
“So I handled the pigeon and the guy who was the pigeon handler said, ‘Wow, you’re a natural at this. You could do this if you wanted to.’ And, I said, in my brain, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, maybe, this guy will be the next pigeoneer.’ Like hell, no! Just because I’m able to do it, I’m not going to be the next pigeon man, next to Mike Tyson, you know. I could see he had bird feed in his eyes.”
Not to be outdone, Gagliastro’s wife lists “scarf juggler, hula-hoopist and a fabulous chicken clucker” as some of her skills.

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