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Michael Bonitatis was kind enough to do an exclusive interview conducted by Eric Goldman for Aronofsky.Net concerning Darren Aronofsky's "Protozoa".

How did you meet Darren Aronofsky and get the part of Dave in Protozoa?

Iím really into Jack Kerouac and all the Beat writers. I was reading this book called ĎGoí at the time [of Protozoa] by John Clellon Holms and I really related to it. Leaving home in New Jersey and traveling to California, just following the vibe of life. I was in an acting class and a good friend of mine introduced me to Darren. He struck me as the kind of guy who was into authenticity and realism and I really appreciated that. A lot of it has to do with the sentimentality of the character and the point of view of where heís coming from. I was really living on the edge at the time I auditioned for him and the nice thing was it was really about the character and the story he was creating, so I got the part. When things coincide like that itís more than coincidence it like finding a key to a puzzle your trying to figure out. When people are searching for an answer they are always looking for it outside themselves, in other locations, but itís really about the inner journey.

Making a movie is always the basis for some good stories. Is there any memory or incident from shooting Protozoa that you would like to share?

We had to do this scene [the opening] where I was waiting for a very long time, feeling trapped, lonely, & isolated. We were shooting at an industrial site a lot of old rusty junk laying around corrugated metal and stuff like that. I had this old beat up guitar and was strumming on it and the sound triggered off a memory that set me off smashing it against this rusted oil drum. I guess I didnít realize it was slicing my finger on a sharp edge of the can. After Darren yelled cut there was blood everywhere. Darren and Eric Watson rushed me to the local emergency room. I had to get stitches. My finger had this huge bandage on it and we re-shot the scene with the bandage on. I had the bandage on throughout the rest of the shoot. I still have the scar today and Iíll always remember how I got it.

Do you know if there have every been any plans for Protozoa to be released? Any feelings?

Itís a short film, but I always wanted to see it expanded as a feature because it felt like there was a lot more we could explore with the characters and the story. Darrenís signature directing style of his quick interspersed shots was first developed in Protozoa. Itís very interesting to see an artist like Darren improvise with a skeleton crew and literally no-budget and still create a very interesting mood and style.

You've worked in both theatre and film, what are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

Theatre is an 'in the moment' experience that involves an audience and engages them. For me it was great training of thinking on your feet and staying in the moment. The interesting thing about film is it captures that moment in time and preserves it so people can look back on it like some sacred document of what life was like for that particular character at that moment of time. They are both very personal, intimate experiences where you are communicating on another level. I like to think of it before technology when people used to sit around fires and tell stories Ė thatís what excites me about acting transcending this reality and existing in a different one Ė alternate realities. Thereís a paradox in it - you have to be deeply rooted within yourself and know who you are so you can have the ultimate freedom to let go and immerse yourself within the skin of someone else. Itís a spiritual tap into a soul.

The kinds of characters that interest me the most are mystics, poets, and madmen. These are the guys who are on the perimeter, on the other side, not on the edge Ė over it!

You are doing a film right now called Dead Man's Bluff, can you tell me about the project and your role?

Dead Manís Bluff is an independent film being shot in Cleveland OH, by first time director Matthew Gunnoe. Itís a thriller about the Russian Mafia where I play Arnie Taggert, a rookie detective. I like the naivety of the character and his bumbling way of falling into clues. He kind of reminds me of Peter Sellers and Maxwell Smart. Thereís always something to learn whenever you do something new and different, with this experience I really worked with a lot of cops and learned how to work with a gun, the right way. I also got a chance to learn some more stunts, which I love to do. Itís all about breaking new ground; I have a lot of respect for cops and the shit they go through. They put themselves on the line every day.
I'm also working with some real classic character actors on this shoot: Bill Smith, Charlie Dierkup, and Michael Pataki all of whom I became good friends with. I admire them and have a lot of respect for their commitment to their work. These guys have shown me a lot and encouraged me to keep going. They have been a great inspiration for me.

Do you have any idea what you are doing next?

Iím working on a movie I wrote and Iíve been dogging it out in the trenches of Hollywood. Iím always searching for the right project to fit into and to tell the story in the best way possible. It was a very challenging and rewarding experience working with Darren and Iíd love to work with him again. Heís passionate about what he does and really cares about it and it shows. Being an actor you're constantly searching for a project, a director, and an agent, to get you to the next plateau. Itís a quest you have to stay true to it. Keep your eye on the prize and keep your integrity at the same time.