Howdy Towelites and welcome back to another great edition of DFAT Interviews! We recently had the opportunity to chat it up with actor Amitai Mamorstein. Currently you can catch him in the latest season of Dirk Gently and also the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger film Killing Gunther!
DFAT: Why did you choose to enter the world of acting? Did you have any other career dreams before taking the step that led to acting?
Amitai: You know, it’s funny. I’ve always felt like I almost defaulted into it. It never really occurred to me to do something else. I grew up playing improv games with friends and family, as sort of wholesome games night activities, and then that led to doing school plays, which then led to applying for theater school. It wasn’t really until a couple years into theater school that I asked myself “so what are you going to do if you don’t make it as an actor?” I realized I probably should have some sort of back up plan, and thought why have my parents been so supportive of this potentially terrible major life decision? But to their credit, and I guess mine, I haven’t had to come up with an answer to that. So far at least.
DFAT: That’s fantastic that you have such a great support system who knew you were talented enough to keep going. One of your big gigs is being a part of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, how was it to work with Max Landis and the Dirk Gently crew? Any specific highlights you can share with us?
Amitai: The Dirk gang is awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to work or meet with everyone since the cast is so big. But the people I did get to work with were extremely cool. Most of my scenes are with Dustin Milligan (who plays Hugo Freidkin). Dustin and I had actually worked together years ago in an indie movie, so this was just a fun little reunion. Dustin is the best. Extremely talented, but totally unpretentious and down to earth. Love him. One of my favorite memories is beating him and his girlfriend Amanda Crew (who I’m also a huge fan of) in a late-night, on-set game of Uno. I’m extremely proud of that accomplishment. And Max, well Max is insane. In a good way. He’s a genius, his mind works differently than mine or yours. He breathes creativity. It feels almost involuntary. He’s also a very nice and genuine human being.
DFAT: He certainly seems to be a creative wunderkind. Not only have you done television, but you also have a movie coming up with Killing Gunther. It looks to be a fun film! What was it like on set and working with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Amitai: Arnold is awesome. I mean, I was definitely a bit star struck. It’s pretty surreal working face to face with someone who, when you think about it, is one of the top most recognizable people on the planet. He’s actually one of my dad’s favorite actors. My dad took me to all his movies growing up. Arnold’s even the subject of one of my dad’s favorite go-to jokes.
My dad is a 5’5” pot-bellied bearded rabbi, and whenever someone mentions Arnie in conversation he would stop and sorta winkingly say “You know, people mistake me for him all the time.” It’s kind of a sight gag, but you get the idea. My dad is closer to Danny Devito. Anyways, after shooting a scene where I interview him, I had the chance to tell him my dad’s joke. He chuckled, and then asked me about my dad, and if, as a rabbi he approves of my being an actor. As I mentioned earlier, my dad is supportive to a fault, so I told him that. And then I asked him about his dad. We ended up talking about our families, and it was honestly one of the best on set conversations I’ve ever found myself in. He’s really a very genuine person. And also, he’s so funny. His performance in the film is hilarious. He sings in it. Country music. No lie. I can’t wait for people to see it.
DFAT: We always enjoy hearing good Arnie stories, and your dad sounds hilarious. Throughout your acting career thus far, what has been your favorite role and why?
Amitai: Well, roles are like children, it wouldn’t be fair to the other ones if I singled one out as my favorite. But I’ll say a part that has always been very special to me is this low budget indie comedy from years ago called Sunflower Hour. It’s this raunchy mockumentary about a children’s puppet television show. I played the super earnest aspiring puppeteer who was constantly getting bullied by his older brothers. It was one of my first larger film roles and it was such a fun and educational experience. I’m still friends with everyone from it. And, maybe best of all, I objectively enjoy the finished product, (which isn’t always an easy thing for me to do). I believe it’s available on iTunes. Sunflower Hour, check it out if you get the chance.
DFAT: Oh man, we’ll let the readers know about that one. We’re sure it’s hilarious and dark! We hear that you’re a big fan of podcasts, us too! What are a couple of your go-to shows?
Amitai: I find I don’t even have enough hours in the day to keep up with all the podcasts I listen to. Some of my current favourites are The Bodega Boys with Desus Nice and The Kid Mero. Two hilarious dudes from The Bronx. I love this local Vancouver one that’s hit it pretty big now called Stop Podcasting Yourself. 2 Dope Queens is another great comedy one. I love Gimlet Media, particularly Startup and Reply All. And I’d give my life for Jad Abumrad (RadioLab/More Perfect host). Oh boy, this list is already way too long. Planet Money and Freakonomics as well. Those are my last two I promise. Oh and Invisibilia. Okay, that’s it.
DFAT: Hahaha, nothing wrong with that! You’ll have to add Towelite Talk to your list as well, though you’re right, there really isn’t much time in the day for all the great content out there. What are some of your hobbies when you aren’t acting?
Amitai: You know, if I’m gonna be completely honest with you, I’m kind of lazy. Vancouver is full of people who love to hike and run and kayak and do all these exciting, dynamic activities, but I mostly just watch TV, go to the movies, and listen to podcasts (obviously). I have gotten into puzzles lately too. Oh god, I’m the most boring person in the entire world.
DFAT: No way! Whatever you’re into is what you’re into, as long as you’re having a good time doing it. Okay, we have one more question and its not at all a serious one, well kinda depending on what you say: If you could be a superhero (in real life or tv/film) who would you choose to be and why?
Amitai: Growing up I wanted to be Superman. But when I got a little older, I was able to understand that’s not actually possible under the constraints of reality. So instead I replaced that fantasy with the dream of getting to play him in a movie. Then, when I stopped growing at 5’7” and about 120 lbs, I realized I was probably gonna have to let that dream go too. But then, about 3 or 4 years ago, I actually got cast in a play where I got to play Joe Shuster, the artist that co-created Superman with Jerry Siegel. The story of Joe and Jerry is such an amazing and heartbreaking tale. In the final image of the play, when Joe is dying, blind, broke, and alone, we did this crazy projection effect where I got to essentially transform into Superman, cape waving in the wind. It helped fulfill my childhood fantasy.
DFAT: Oh wow, now that woulda been amazing to see! So great you got to fulfill your childhood dreams! What’s next for you? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Amitai: I’ll be making a small appearance in the new season of The Flash. And then in 2018, I’ll be making another quick appearance in the Netflix show Altered Carbon. There is one other thing but I’m allowed to talk about it yet. Gimme a shout in, say, 8 or 9 months and maybe I can fill you in then.
DFAT: Oh we’ll make sure we catch up with you. So excited to know you’ll be involved in so many awesome projects!
Many thanks to Amitai for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his geekly ventures with us. Remember to catch Dirk Gently Saturdays on BBC America and in Killing Gunther available now on VOD and currently in select theaters!