Interview With Actor Matty Finochio

By Ruth on November 28, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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This past summer, UP network premiered a fantastic show called Date My Dad, and several of my actor friends were a part of this acclaimed series which made it an instant highlight of my Friday nights. However, one character captivated me unexpectedly–Alan. He was the guy in the gym who worked alongside the lead character, and as the season progressed, I knew I wanted to discover the actor behind this somewhat outlandish and consistently hilarious character. When I read the name Matty Finochio, somehow the name seemed familiar. In fact, I was quite certain I had seen him in Hallmark movies in the past, and sure enough, this man has had an incredible career. Recently, Matty and I finally carved out some time to chat about his career during which we concentrated heavily on his recent and upcoming roles.

RH: So glad we finally made a connection today, Matty.

MF: Likewise, Ruth. Thank you for reaching out.

I absolutely loved your role in Date My Dad, but I realize I have seen you in many other things, including Hallmark movies. In fact, I had forgotten you were in Autumn Dreams until I was looking over your credits.

Yes, Autumn Dreams with Jill Wagner and Colin Egglesfield. Yeah, that was a fun one.

And then I started looking at more of your credits and realized I had seen you in a lot of different things without even realizing it. And now things seem to be really picking up for you.

Definitely. And I have done a lot of work for Hallmark over the years. I guess it would have started with Kiss At Pine Lake with Barry Watson. That’s where I met Barry, actually. Also, Michael Scott, who was one of the directors on Date My Dad–we all met on that job. We became fast friends, and jokingly Barry said, “I would love to do a series up here in Vancouver.” And Michael and I were like, “Yeah, we gotta figure that out.” We got along so well. It was such a blast making Kiss At Pine Lake. That was in 2012. And five years later, Barry’s words came true, and we made a series together.

from Date My Dad

It was so much fun to see you on Date My Dad. In fact, I think the first person that told me about Date My Dad was Lilah Fitzgerald. And then Cindy Busby started tweeting about it. And then Zenia Marshall. All these people I knew and had interviewed before. It was so neat to see all these connections. I was excited about this show for months, and I thought UP promoted it pretty well.

Well, ultimately, we’ll see how things go and if we get picked up for a second season. Everything I’ve heard from UP is positive and they liked the show. It seems like everybody liked the show. I think it fills the void right now. There’s not a lot of family-friendly content on TV right now.

I agree. When I watched the pilot, like any show, it took a little while to get going. And it seems like the first episode of any show is like that. Sometimes you might describe it as being a little bit slow at first. But I admit that I was intrigued and I wanted to keep watching. And each episode got progressively better and better just like with any show.

I think you’re exactly right. It always takes a show–especially a new show coming out–a while to kind of flesh it all out and get into the rhythm of it and the feel because there are so many moving parts to a new series. You often have actors coming in that you’re not really familiar with, and you have to work with them a little to see how they work together and how they might change things here and there. And then the show takes on a form of itself. Usually by the third or fourth show, you have a good idea of where the show is heading. You know, all these big shows on Netflix, they put a lot of money into development so their first show out of the gate is rich and ripe and ready to go. But that’s just a money thing; they have the money to develop. So when you’re working with Date My Dad and the way other shows generally do where it’s more of a prime-time thing, you get the pilot, then the pick-up, then the show feels how it’s gonna be and you go from there. I really felt like Date My Dad did that as well. We all gelled in a way that was fantastic and exactly what you said. The show really started to pick up steam, and by the end, I think everyone was doing a fantastic job. The writers were seeing what the actors were bringing and started writing for them specifically.

Yes, because my mom watched it with me, and at first, she wasn’t too sure about it. I was watching it because I have so many friends involved in the show. But by the end, she really was enjoying the show. And we both loved Cindy’s Busby’s character right from the beginning. And then by the middle of the season, your character was so much fun. You definitely became one of our favorites.

That’s sweet. I came onto the show because I knew Barry and I knew Michael. And also Barbara Fisher, who’s the vice-president of UP TV–we have a relationship. We all had history together. Barry had called and said, “Matty, I’m coming up to Vancouver to do this series. We all want you on it. We’re going to try to figure it out.” Nina Coleman, who created the show, I had never met. But Barbara and Barry and Michael and Dan Angel, who was a producer on the show, were all saying, “You got to meet Matty. Don’t worry, you’ll love him, and we’ll figure it out.” When I met Nina, we had a ten-minute conversation and we got along, and she said that she thought I should do this character named Alan. On the page, Alan wasn’t a fully-fleshed out character. But we started working together. Nina and I got along great. She knew that if she needed me to be funny, I could make the character funny. So then she started writing more for Alan. Originally, Alan was only going to be in three episodes, I believe. But we all started working together, and it turned into this other thing. So Alan really had the chance to blossom.

Very true. By the time the season reached its halfway point, your character was one we were looking forward to seeing. We always knew that you and Cindy’s character at the gym were going to be so fun to watch.

Totally. Cindy’s super funny too. She nails it. The three of us working together and then Lochlyn {Munro} and Karen {Holness} would come in once in a while. It was just so easy and seamless.

Absolutely. I was actually telling my friend, Sebastian Spence, about this show and how the show was going. He had worked with some of the cast before, so it just made sense to tell him about it. I think you have worked with him before.

Oh, sure, Sebastian Spence! I’ve worked with him a couple times. We first worked together on a web series actually. This was years and years ago. He played the love interest, and I played this wild, flamboyant character, and that was when we first worked together. Then we worked together on a film called Crash Site. He’s such a great guy, and he’s a veteran in the business. He’s been around forever.

Well, he thought it was great that you guys were working to bring this show about. But he agreed that it takes a little while for a show to get going in the beginning. So, Matty, why did you decide to become an actor?

I come from a family who is involved in show business. My father’s a writer, and my uncle’s an actor. In the fourth grade, we were in Sherman Oaks, California. I’m from Hamilton, Ontario. We moved down to Los Angeles because my dad was doing a show. There was a school program, and I can’t remember how I got involved with it, but I do remember rehearsing for it. The night of the big recital, the gym was packed with hundreds of people. Well, what seems like hundreds of people to me anyway. I have one little line. I’m sitting on that stage at the edge of the stage. I have a microphone. This line was kind of sing-songy. It was “Hi, Mrs. Robinson, can I speak to Penelope Ann?” I was calling this girl to ask her to the school dance. Well, I added a hiccup right before I say Penelope Ann. And it got a laugh. And that was it. That was the moment I knew that I wanted to be an actor. I went off stage, and my dad was taping the whole thing. I said, “I know what I want to do with my life. I know what I want to be.” He said, “What do you want to be?” And I said, “I want to be an actor.” He said, “Good. Get used to his. ‘No!'” My dad’s a comedy writer, so that was a joke. But it’s true; I got used to “no.” I’ve always been in love with acting. But my parents were adamant about me being a kid and doing what kids do and having fun. And if I wanted to be an actor, I should do all the plays in high school and elementary school. And if I still wanted to be an actor, I should go to theater school and learn how to be an actor. And if you’re good enough and you still want to be an actor, go out and get an agent. And then if you’re good enough, someone will hire you and they’ll pay you to do it. So that was my journey.

It used to worry me in elementary school and the beginning of high school because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and all these kids around me didn’t really know. I would go to set with my dad while he was working and I would stay there for thirteen or fourteen hours a day. He would come up to me and say, “You want to go home?” And I was like, “No, this is great. I love it.” And he said, “I think you have the bug.” I said, “I feel fine.” And he was like, “No, no, you have the acting bug.” So I just followed through with it. I did all the plays in high school, and then I still wanted to keep going, so I went to theater school.

After theater school, I didn’t go right into acting. I got a job in a restaurant because as a kid, I always wanted to either be a chef or an actor. I was obsessed with cooking. I have an Italian background, so I would spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s house and my grandfather would garden and my grandmother would cook. While I wasn’t distracted by my restaurant job, I did that for awhile. My girlfriend at the time said, “You’re an actor. You’re good. You gotta do it.” She told me there was this show that I should audition for. It was a dinner theater show. So that’s what jumpstarted it again. I got into the show and started again. So this talent scout caught wind of me at a department store in the clothing section, and that was how I got my first agent. I got into this competition, and even though I didn’t win this competition–which if you won, you got a year’s contract with a talent agent and headshots for free. I lost, but I guess the agent saw something and chased me down. I was storming out of the department store, storming out of the makeup section in the department store.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a story like the one you told about getting an agent.

Isn’t it funny? During the competition, they tried to give me a microphone, but I said I didn’t need one because I was a theater actor. I did this funny monologue and was getting all of these laughs, but I don’t even think I came close to winning. I don’t even know who won in the end.

According to IMDB, The L Word is listed as your first TV job. Is that correct?

Well, that was the first major network thing I got cast in. But I was doing indies {independent films} before that. I was always so nervous at auditions. I started auditioning in 2003, and The L Word happened in 2005. I was so nervous that I didn’t book a job for two years. That happens sometimes.

Oh, I know it does. I’ve heard stories just like that, and I have a great deal of respect for actors as I realize the kind of auditions you have to go through. You guys are under such pressure with getting last-minute scripts you have to have memorized the next morning and sometimes three auditions in a day. I honestly don’t know how you do it.

For me, auditions are definitely the work part of the job. Doing a movie and going out and hanging out on set, that’s easy compared to auditioning.

I would agree. I don’t think most people realize how hard this job is. They think acting is such an easy and glamorous job. But I have worked hard to show how hard actors really do have to work, and many of my readers are beginning to understand that.

There are certainly parts of acting that are definitely work. You have to be focused at certain times. But for anyone, if someone does what they love to do and you follow your bliss, then it’s never really work. And I’m sure we would say the same about other professions. I think if you love what you do, sure, it’s gonna be work at times, but it’s never really that bad.

Another point to bring up is the money issue. When you’re doing something creative, there are always people who ask, “Are you getting paid?” Well, it’s not always about that. Hopefully you get to that point where you are making a living, but if you do it for free, you do it because you love it.

I know you’ve done a lot of Hallmark things. But I also noticed, and I hadn’t even realized it, that you were in a couple of the Night At the Museum films.

Yes, I was involved in all three actually. I was a reader for a casting director here in town. The Night At the Museum show came into town and Ben Stiller wanted people who could improv. The way they shot those films was they would get Ben’s coverage and then they would cut away to do all the miniatures who would have to work with green screens. So on the day when they shot his part, he didn’t have anyone to act off of. And the way they like to work is they like to improv a lot and work around the material. So he wanted some people on set to play the other characters that he could riff with and have someone to act with. So I got the call to audition to be one of the readers, and I got the job. And we all got along really well. Ben and I and Shawn Levy, who’s the director. We all got along really fast and it was a good experience. I was having a blast. It was crazy.

Night At the Museum films are multi-million dollar movies, so to have the opportunity to be involved with something so big was amazing. I mean, sure I’m in Vancouver, but really, this was Hollywood. It was crazy…the sets and the money behind that show and all these stars. It was on a massive scale that I had never seen, but had only dreamt about. I had seen a little bit because of my family, so I knew what it looked like. But to be involved with it was pretty amazing. It all went really well. I remember being asleep in my little wagon after lunch; I was taking a nap. Rhonda, the third AD who had a gruff voice and smoked cigarettes, knocked on the door and said, “You gotta go to wardrobe.” I said, “I’m not even in the show.” She said, “Obviously you did something right. Go to wardrobe.” They kind of created a character and put me in the first film. I was like, “Wow, this is cool.” I played a train conductor. I had a big mustache on. It ultimately never made the final show. Then after that, every time they would come to town, Shawn would call.

For the second one, I was Ben’s reader as well. They gave me a character in the second one whose name literally was Matty. They wrote it for me so I could come there and be in it. It was awesome; it was a countdown guy for a rocket launch.

For the third one, same thing. I said I wasn’t gonna be a reader. I had to move on from that. But I said I’d act in it. I auditioned for the part of a Roman centurion, and then if you buy the DVD, there is a special featurette they had made for the DVD. It was a day in the actor life, and it was a twenty-minute movie about Ahkmenrah, one of the characters in the movie and his “pestery” friend, this mummy named Craig who was really a background guy, but he was trying to make everything about him. He was bugging Ben Stiller and all the other stars. So Shawn wanted me to play this Craig character. So if you get the DVD, you’ll see it. It was a big thing and pretty amazing to be involved in that. After that piece, Shawn said I should come down to LA with him. He set me up with a whole bunch of meetings in Los Angeles and got me representation. So it was a pretty big deal.

That is so cool that you were able to be in all three films. My daughter and I saw all the films in the theater. I think I went to see the first one originally because Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke were in it. And then having Robin Williams in it was a big drawing card too. I will have to go back and watch those again and watch out for you in two and three. {pause} Now, I know you were in the original Garage Sale Mystery, but you were in the one that came out earlier this year called The Art of Murder where Martin Cummins was the murderer.

Yeah, Martin. Another great actor I did a sci-fi show with him called Seattle Superstorm. But that last Garage Sale Mystery I was in, I played a character named Wilder. He’s this vegan-guru guy.

I bet people will remember you. And then you were in Autumn Dreams and Bridal Wave too.

Yes, Bridal Wave was Michael Scott again, the one who directed Kiss At Pine Lake. I was also in a film called So You Said Yes with Kellie Martin. And I did one somewhat recently with Billy Baldwin called While You Were Dating.

BTS Welcome to Nowhere

That’s right! Lochlyn was in that one also. That one came out in February, and I really enjoyed it because it was so different and fun. Now, while I know this isn’t a Hallmark one, you were also in Welcome to Nowhere. I haven’t gotten to see it yet, but I am familiar with it.

Yes, that was a fun one. Robin Dunne is the writer/director on that one. And Sara Canning, David Milchard, and Dan Payne. We shot that out in Regina. In fact, I went back in September to Regina and shot a kid’s movie with Robin called Archie 2. He did Archie last year, which was the talking dog with Michael J. Fox. Lionsgate came back with the money, and Michael J. Fox was back on board, so we got to make that movie.

That’s awesome! I look forward to seeing that one. And I look forward to the day when Welcome to Nowhere is available in the U.S. as the last time I checked, we were still waiting.

I hope you get a chance to see it soon. It was so fun, a small town trying to save the farm, and the best friends come together–myself, Robin, and David–to try to save the farm. They come up with this crazy plan to fake a UFO landing.

Oh, that does sound like fun! And of course, we’re all hoping for a season two of Date My Dad. I’m glad the fans are still asking for another season.

Yes, it’s nice to see the fans still talking about it after all this time. Of course, I know networks have to work all the details out, but it all comes down to money. It often takes lots of negotiations to work it all out.

And I think some people are still discovering the show. I hope that continues.

One thing I heard is that the viewership kept going up every week as the show progressed. Even with the reruns, the viewership would go up. I think that’s a good sign.

BTS Loudermilk with Viv Leacock

Anything else you have upcoming?

Yeah, totally. I’m in a series called Loudermilk that is screening right now in the U.S. on the Audience Channel. Ron Livingston is the lead. Will Sasso is in it. Peter Farrelly of the Farrelly Brothers, Dumb and Dumber–this is his foray or splash into TV. Him and a guy named Bobby Mort, the head writer on the Colbert Report. They developed this show called Loudermilk. It’s a comedy, and it’s super funny. Ron Livingston plays a recovering alcoholic and he runs a AA meeting in the downstairs basement of a church. And he’s really gruff. The tagline is: “Loudermilk. One step forward, twelve steps back.” I play Garrett Mason Burke, who comes in at the end of the season. Where Loudermilk is negative and truth, Garrett Mason Burke is the complete opposite. He’s positive and good vibrations, and he also runs the meetings. He becomes the nemesis or arch-rival to Loudermilk. There’s a lot of other Vancouver actors in it. Viv Leacock is in it. Toby Levins is in it. But that was a blast. Peter Farrelly is a legend and such a great guy to work with. I hope everyone gets a chance to see it.

I’m also in an upcoming Nickelodeon movie called Tiny Christmas. I play an elf and it’s about Santa Claus. This elf is totally out of his mind and is named Chill. It premieres this weekend on Nickelodeon.

I recently finished filming an episode of Beyond which is the second season of that show on Freeform. I know season two starts next year.

I also recently worked with Zach Lipovsky on his second feature film, Freaks. You might know him as the executive producer for the show Mech X-4. He’s very talented, and he’s got a lot going on here in Vancouver. A few years back, he did a reality show with Steven Spielberg called On the Lot, and he made it to the finals. So it was cool to get to do this film with him.

I will will also guest star on Once Upon A Time on December 8th. It will be a more serious role for me.

And, of course, Hallmark viewers can see you in Window Wonderland. I was watching that again this year, and what a fun role that was for you. So it looks like there are a lot of places where we can see you now and also in the next couple of months. Thank you so much for spending some time chatting with me today, Matty.

Ruth, it was my pleasure. Excited to see what everyone thinks about the movie this weekend!

with Cindy Busby Date My Dad

One of the things I appreciate most about Matty is that he is not only unbelievably knowledgeable about the many aspects of show business, but he is an extremely conversational and down-to-earth guy. While we joyously chatted about our mutual friends (and I think this man knows and has worked with practically everybody in Vancouver, at least), we also discussed a plethora of topics, and it made for a pleasurable conversation that felt less like an interview and more like an authentic chat between two friends. Matty’s jubilant exhilaration and genuine interest in any topic that popped up caused our communication to be lively, fun, and random. While he has a delightful sense of humor (as well as impeccable comedic timing), he also has an innate sense of when sobriety is necessary, and while discussing his beloved acting profession, his sincere passion governed his tone and demeanor. While his enthusiasm never waned, it was evident that in spite of his wide variety of skills which could have led to limitless career choices, it is acting that fuels his soul with a burning fire and relentless drive that not all in this world (or profession) possess.

Another thing that impresses me about Matty is his deep appreciation for every experience and opportunity he has been given within the business. He understands that an abundance of people from multiple walks of life have helped him along the way, and he doesn’t take anything for granted. No matter his disappointments or perceived shortcomings, he never allows those things to keep him from attaining his potential. He refuses to speak ill of anyone, and his natural effervescence and lust for life are infectious. His signature kindness and benevolence coupled with his ability to set anyone at ease with his quick smile and jovial nature are gifts that he willingly bequeaths to each person on set, and that is why he continues to encounter success and satisfaction in his chosen profession.

While I realize that Christmas shows overflow at this time of year, I do hope that you will tune in (or set your DVR) to Nickelodeon this Saturday, December 2nd for the premiere of Matty’s new Christmas comedy, Tiny Christmas. While I have no doubt it will be zany, uproarious, and possibly intended for younger audiences, I believe films like this remind us that it is permissible to act as a child at Christmastime. Furthermore, if the film can entertain us for a couple hours and allow us to escape the doldrums that seem to multiply on a daily basis in this society of ours, I believe watching this movie will be moments well-spent. And after all, seeing Matty’s antics in the film will be worth the time invested, right?

Additionally, I invite all of you to check out Matty’s links below and consider following him where applicable. Because of his incredible range and the diversity of projects in which he has been involved, I am thrilled to be able to support him in his career. I wish we had more positive people like him in this world who remind us all of the joy of every day living while genuinely taking an interest in every person they meet. Celebrating and supporting the career and person of Matty Finochio is definitely a pleasurable and inspiring thing in which I humbly participate, and I greatly anticipate the next step in his remarkable career journey.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. denise December 2, 2017 Reply

    He really has a large body of work in acting. I’ve seen most of the Hallmark movies and a few of the other productions.

    • Author
      Ruth December 3, 2017 Reply

      Denise, you are so great to comment so regularly on my posts. I really appreciate it!

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