Interview: Todd Senofonte talks about work on Robert Tai's Iron Bodyguards, stuntwork on Van Damme films, and current roles
Senofonte and Van Damme with Sammo Hung on the set of Knock-Off. Which is which? The point is made. Photo used with kind permission of Todd Senofonte.
Knight: In addition to stunt and action roles, you have also persued other kinds of acting roles in some independant short films. You did a comedy short called Thoughts And Desires (2007) by Grady Johnson and Ray Wickel. After that role, as well as your parody in Kung Phooey, do you see yourself going after more comedic roles?
Senofonte: I consider myself an all around actor that is ready for any challenge. I wouldn't mind working on a romantic film, you know, something for the girls. There are some films out there where you wonder how and why did they cast that person for that role. Maybe if my mom or dad were celebrities I'd be working more. You see, there are producers that will risk quality for saving money. Ask the producers why I was not used in Desert Heat, Replicant, The Order, Derailed, In Hell, and so on... You ask any Van Damme fan and they will say they can tell when it's not Van Damme during an action scene. When they used me, you couldn't tell the difference. And don't get me started on these reality shows. They are practically giving these clowns a career, whereas struggling actors like myself and others deserve it more.
Knight: In 2008 and 2009 you appeared in two short films written and directed by Daniel Salinas. The Deal and A Reason To Live. I liked The Deal, but I especially liked A Reason To Live because I think both you and Salinas really made something powerful and special with that one. How did you make Jake's grief so convincing? I mean two thirds into the film, Jake is talking through his teeth and stabbing the air, and it really seemed for a time like you really were that guy and it was a scene from a documentary, not a fictional story on film.
Senofonte: It is called acting in the moment. It was my first challenge to bring those words to life.
Knight: One thing I wondered since you have the martial arts background, and have been in action movies, why the kill scene was handled the way it was... When I first saw it I thought it was going to be something more physical, but it was just enough to establish that Jake killed his wife's killers, and that was all. Was it in the script that way, done that way to stress the dialogue of the story -- or did you yourself want that to stress your dramatic acting over the physical?
Senofonte: That is the way it was written. I didn't want this to have anything to do with fighting. This was real and there is no reason to do any spinning kicks or punches. My fans know I can do the action, this is the real Todd... The actor.
Knight: You played the role of Sgt. Wilkins in Fred Olen Ray's Super Shark (2011). Did you sort of draw on your time in uniform from the National Guard?
Senofonte: Every time I put on a uniform, it does bring me back to my basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga. It's like riding a bike, you never forget what you were trained to do.
Knight: For all its far out plot, it really was a riot; it had a pretty good cast, with John Schneider, Tim Abell, and even Jimmie 'J. J.' Walker from "Good Times" showed up as a character called Dynamite. What were your impressions of the cast and crew of that project?
Senofonte: Unfortunately, I only worked on that film for two days so I didn't get a chance to meet everyone.
Knight: You had a part in another shark movie, Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012). With people like Jack Scalia, Paul Sorvino, and William Atherton, that must have been an interesting combination of people to work with?
Senofonte: It was great to reunite with Paul Sorvino. We worked together on Knock Off (1998) in Hong Kong. Jack is a great guy and William is actually my neighbor, we meet for coffee here and there. William is a great guy and does a great impression of Michael Caine. Michael Caine is actually my favorite actor, so it was funny to hear his impression.