To prepare for his role of vampire Ed Torin in Dark Commandos, actor Chris Boicelli did
He did not check out previous vampire films or TV shows to get a handle on how to play a member of the undead, and he did not spend a great deal of time trying to figure out this character, who had been transformed during the Vietnam War. In fact, initially he was not interested in the role at all.
"When [director/co-creator] Tom Sanders first called me, I hadnt sent my picture to him and I didnt know where he had gotten it," Boicelli explains. "He told me that Dark Commandos was a vampire series and I was really reluctant. But then I actually read the script and I liked it. I thought, This is a good idea. Nobodys really come up with anything like this, because you see a lot of vampire crap out there and its always the same vampire crap. To see something different and to have that much homework put into it was really surprising. In all honesty, I was shocked. Im not one to blow smoke up somebodys skirt, but I think the concept is good. I wouldnt have done this show in the first place if I didnt think the concept was good."
For Boicelli, one of the appeals of playing a character like Torin is the fact that he feels a certain kinship with his on-screen alter ego. "I really kind of mirror the character in a lot of ways," he explains. "I think he comes off nonchalant, a party kind of guy who takes what comes, but I think hes got a lot of internal struggles that he doesnt put forth to a lot of people." A point which will change shortly in a "sidebar" episode that will focus on Torins meeting with an off-camera psychiatrist assigned to the Undead Brigade. "Whats good about that episode," he says, "is that Ed kind of reveals a little bit about his feelings, but you can tell that he doesnt want to get into it. Thats like me. I use humor a lot of times when I dont feel like dealing with situations, and I think hes the kind of character that does the same thing. So theres definitely an appeal to the character. I think theres always similarity between yourself and the characters you play, but this one hits a little closer to home."
Born and raised in Modesto, California, Boicelli moved to Los Angeles at the age of 21. He attended Long Beach State University and eventually moved back to Northern California to get involved in business with his father. His girlfriend at the time, citing his humor and ability to make people laugh, is the one who suggested that he should give acting a try. Figuring that he had nothing to lose, he did so, taking a single class at a local community college and ultimately finding himself in the theater conservatory program. Several plays followed and then he took up permanent residence in LA. Unfortunately, a series of "family tragedies" occurred at about the same time and he put acting on hiatus.
Its only over the course of the last year or so that he has begun pursuing his craft, beginning with a production of Hurly Burly that he produced, directed and co-starred in. "It sounds like a lot and it was," he says. "We did it in a 60-seat theater. The shows were Friday and Saturday nights for five weeks, and it all cost about $10,000 to pull together. It was professional and thats why it was so time consuming. I think I looked at it as a more personal thing. You learn a little bit more about the business when you take on something like this; you get a little more insight into the whole business and the way it works. I also believe it taught me about a work ethic. There are those who have it and those who dont, and I learned very quickly that I did have it." He pauses, and adds with a smile, "It was also designed to help me get my ass off the couch."
He followed Hurly Burly with Dark Commandos and his turn as Ed Torin, a character who will be featured in the next official DC prequel comic book story, "Night of Future Past." His enthusiasm for the overall project remains contagious. "I think its a great concept," he says. "To me, I want to take this ball and run with it. The ultimate gift for me, obviously, would be to stay on the show if it became a TV pilot or something. I think it would do well and go far."