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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Actor Bruno Verdoni Plays Aces in Oscar Bound ‘Molly’s Game’

{Image Credit: Dennys Ilic}

Actor Bruno Verdoni has been showing off his acting chops in the film and television industry for more than three decades, but this Christmas the Canadian actor gets to play aces with some of Hollywood’s greatest.

Starring in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game set to release Dec. 25, Verdoni plays an important role to Jessica Chastain’s titular character, Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. Regrettably, her schemes made her an FBI target and that’s where Verdoni’s character Pat comes in.

{Image credit: Dennys Ilic}

“Pat is Molly Bloom’s bodyguard and driver at a point in her life where she needs to carry a lot of money,” Verdoni tells The Hudsucker exclusively. “She needs protection from someone who won’t ask too many questions and where trust goes both ways. [But] Pat, wanting to look good in the eyes of some friends, ends up connecting Molly with the wrong people, [bringing] disastrous consequences.”

While the film is already generating plenty of Oscar buzz ahead of the Academy Awards this February, it also picked up two nominations at this year’s Golden Globes, including one for Best Screenplay. Verdoni said he had no idea it was about to be touted one of 2017’s best, but knew it was special.

“Well, with Aaron as director, players such as Jessica, Kevin Costner, and Idris Elba, and an outstanding [cinematographer] like Charlotte Bruus Christensen, you can’t tell if critics will like the film or not, but you know for sure it will be a real quality project,” Verdoni said.

Earlier this week, Chastain earned herself a nomination in the Best Actress category and Verdoni couldn’t agree more with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s choice this season.

“[Jessica] is very committed and prepared, and although in the makeup trailer she was relaxed and joking around, on set, it was more like she was living inside the character,” he said. “Staying in her bubble like most serious actors do. I mean, actors aren’t always like that unless there is an emotional demand or preparation that is needed, then like an athlete they stay focused.”

Verdoni is a lot like Chastain when it comes to staying focused and living inside the character. Over the years, the actor has broadened his skillset to include a wide range of interests. From racecar driving to having an interest in law and policing, Verdoni said it’s something that benefits his character in Molly’s Game.

“In my life, I’ve always done a bit of boxing and aikido here and there and worked out. I like to stay in shape and I’ve done a fair amount of stunts,” he said. “I’m a fairly physical guy and it informs the roles I play a lot.”

Verdoni goes on to share an example of how one carries themselves in a “ready state,” with a solid trust on speed and strength.

“These [kinds of] tools helped with playing Pat,” he revealed. “I would have been a good cop because I have a heightened sense of justice and fairness and need to protect those who are not as fortunate as I am.”

A still from Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain. {Image Credit: STXfilms}

While Verdoni didn’t have the chance to work with Elba or Costner, he was honored to spend a lot of time with Sorkin even though the scenes weren’t “typical Aaron Sorkin scenes” as he had less dialogue.

“They were a bit more moody and slowly evolving dramatic pieces,” he said. “So Aaron didn’t fine-tune the scenes as much as I thought he would. [But] he does trust his casting choice and his writings and lets the actors do their thing, which is awesome!”

Verdoni goes on to add that auditioning for Sorkin was a “fun and inspiring experience,” and that shooting in Central Park, New York was “certainly a highlight.”

But while Molly’s Game is all about poker, Verdoni discloses that he doesn’t consider himself a good player one bit, disclosing of the time he was at a fundraiser in Santa Monica, California years ago with celebrities who teamed up with real pro poker players.

“I brought my chips, sat at the table, and with my very limited knowledge of the game I gave it my best shot,” he laughs. “The pros were really nice though, trying to help you understand the game and play better but they also wanted to win — that’s in their DNA I suppose, and so it just became a whirlwind where I thought most people spoke a weird language I couldn’t understand and of course I lost all money so fast my head was spinning.”

Verdoni might not bet on a career in card playing, but he can certainly take the pot when it comes to a flourishing career in film and television. Boasting a bright and striking filmography with credits in The X-Files, The Expanse, Smallville and Reign, Verdoni credits his passion to knowing what he wanted early on.

“Acting for some reason has always been on the periphery of my life,” he said. “In high school and college, I did improv and short films, but mostly as a fun hobby, while what I really wanted was to become a pro musician, songwriter [or] composer.”

Verdoni revealed that he eventually came at a crossroads and decided to give his “hobby” another chance.

“I went on to study full time acting, Shakespeare, voice, dance, Alexander Technique,” he enthuses. “I realized by doing it, that acting was what I was supposed to do. It was then I began to think of myself as a good actor. I believe it’s so important to have a core confidence in your skills. You will go through ups and downs, but ultimately you know you have something to contribute.”

Verdoni with Shohreh Aghdashloo in SyFy’s The Expanse. {Image Credit: SyFy}

With the confidence mustered to hone in on his passion and make it work, Verdoni eventually set his sights on Hollywood and sought out the foundations of what made Tinseltown so enamoring, from the “Bat Cave” to classic homes of the stars like, James Stewart.

“Old Hollywood meant feeling close to my parents,” he said. “My parents watched a lot of Hollywood movies and TV shows.”

Verdoni started studying film in college, which also influenced his passion for acting. From the likes of Scorsese to Truffaut to Kubrick and Orson Welles, he said he always felt a “physical closeness with the history” of art.

With a career spanning more than 30 years in the industry, Verdoni has one solid way of keeping himself motivated when it comes to tackling the roles he desires.

“Well you have to know that you are in the industry for the right reasons, that you love what you do and you are good at it, but still want to grow, learn, diversify and express yourself,” he said. “On days where I am questioning everything I ask myself those questions. I still have so much more to achieve, but in the end it’s the quality of one’s life that is important, how all the pieces — health, family, friends and work [and] dreams, work together.”

Verdoni stresses those looking to get their foot in the door shouldn’t seek fame or fortune.

“Being famous is a by-product of being really good at something and sharing it with the world, not a goal in itself, or you’ll hit a very painful brick wall,” he said. “Focus like an athlete or musician, train, improve and diversify your skills. Trust that where your heart and skills meet, you will be able to make a living.”

While fans await his role as Carlos Davila to return to Syfy’s The Expanse (starring Thomas Jane and Shohreh Aghdashloo), Verdoni can be seen next developing different film projects as a writer and director, and is in the post-production stages of his short film, The Law of Averages, which he hopes captures the attention of several festivals in 2018.

Molly’s Game opens in theatres on Dec. 25.

Keep up with Bruno Verdoni by checking out his IMDb for more projects, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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