I love being able to introduce actors and filmmakers who may not be well known yet, but have such amazing talent that you just can’t wait to see all that God has in store for them. Eric Slodysko is one of those actors. His performance in Catastis is thrilling and chilling. He plays a revengeful crazed man so convincingly it’s hard to comprehend what a complete contrast the role is to Eric’s own gentle personality.
I stood on stage after rehearsal for the hit comedy Lend Me A Tenor at my local community theater. It’s best explained as a spiritual epiphany, really. After practice was over, and everyone went home, I convinced the director to let me stay behind to go over some lines. I don’t know why I did it, but I felt the need to position myself center stage and just…remain quiet. I didn’t want to move! A wave of emotion came over me and nearly knocked me over. Everything in my life finally made sense in that one moment of stillness. I mean, I wasn’t even supposed to be doing this play! I tried out on a whim. I couldn’t even roll my tongue (which was required for “Largo al factotum” from “The Marriage of Figaro” and one of the final arias from “Otello”). And yet here I was, in front of 150 empty chairs, with the resting assurance this was what I was supposed to do all along.
What was your first role?
My first role ever was a protean in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. I never really liked the people I performed with. I only wanted to try something new. I’d always shy away from social opportunities growing up due to heightened anxiety, so this was a way of starting anew, and I was bound and determined to change. I stoked the fire, got a background part, balled my fists up (nearly got into a fist fight backstage), and finished with the applause meter on high. It was a rush, but one I’d forget for another five years.
Tell us about your role in Catastasis.
Catastasis was an interesting journey for me. I only took three acting classes prior to receiving a call from Anthony Hackett, the director, informing me I got the part. I just started learning “emotional recall” and really had a difficult time bringing any emotion to the surface; however, I remained diligent, implemented everything I did learn, and ultimately gained favor with the man who calls the shots. I actually recorded my audition on a shoddy, shaky webcam, so the emotion I captured ultimately convinced Anthony I was right for the role, not the technique, by any stretch. I think most casting directors probably would have disqualified me.
What was the most difficult thing about playing such an intense character?
The most intense thing I encountered while playing Thomas Riley was the amount of inner turmoil that came with the part. Without ruining too much of the movie, Thomas was racked with guilt on account of his personal loss compounded with robbing others of their happiness. His attitude toward life involved exacting vengeance and doing anything he could to make others suffer in an effort to resolve his inner pain. I was never able to fully tear that skin off me once we were dismissed from set, and as a result, would toss and turn in bed every night. At the same time, once I said my peace with God and finally put the character to rest, my empathy for others increased sevenfold. As Christians we’re taught to turn the other cheek, but can we really do that in a moment’s notice when we’re forced to confront a nightmarish scenario head-on? It was a very difficult transformation but one I’m happy I experienced overall.
How do people who know you react after seeing you in such a role?
Almost everyone that has watched Catastasis has reported at one point they no longer see me on screen but Thomas. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with hostility after they viewed it, since he‘s kind of a jerk, haha. Some people during the premiere told me they “hated me” and wanted to give me a piece of their mind, but I seemed like such a nice guy smiling on stage that it wasn’t possible to feel that way anymore. I clearly made my mark.
What is the greatest challenge with being a Christian actor?
The greatest challenge for me is constantly scoring “bad guy” roles! I want to play the guy that helps old ladies cross the street, not the guy that leads them into oncoming traffic and merrily skips away laughing. Even when I worked on commercial projects for different companies, I’d always be assigned the “dishonest clerk” or “shady customer” — never the upstanding and refined gentleman that wanted to pay out of his own wallet for a pack of bubblegum. I often wonder why I keep getting the villain. Maybe my eyebrows? They look angry, right? I guess the border of moral decency is what I worry about most. Am I sinning against God because I happen to be playing a psychotic murderer? A beast of rampage? How far can one stretch the threshold? In the end, I have to trust Him and believe that He is guiding me toward His light, and that is what I do. It’s a learning process.
What would be your dream role?
I guess my greatest dream is inspiring others to attain greatness in their lives and not allow fear to deter them from doing so. My goal is to be motivational, an incendiary figure that galvanizes others toward right action. I want to be a speaker some day and really share my testimony on stage, so that others begin to see the power that truly lies within God and how it’s possible to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
If you liked Catastasis, stay tuned for the upcoming trailer Beast–a hybrid Kung Fu/Action/Horror flick ready to explode on screen–Co-Directed by Robert Samuels and Kaloni Davis, and written by Robert Jefferson. I worked behind-the-scenes as a PA and was promoted to actor at the last minute. One word: Serendipity. Hard work definitely pays off!
Finally, thank you for taking the time to get to know me and hearing my story.