Brooklyn-raised actor Robert Catrini sits eagerly in his home in Los Angeles. So far in our talk, Catrini has spoken of his decision to pursue his acting career in the early nineties, followed by his rising success in New York and subsequent relocation to Los Angeles later that decade.
After arriving in LA, Catrini booked several guest roles in TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ally McBeal and even a brief recurring role on General Hospital. Catrini’s name was quickly circulating, and he found his reputation to be growing exceptionally. Over the course of the next decade, Catrini would go on to receive steady acting work across many platforms, and a range of characters through Hollywood productions and indie projects alike.
Catrini’s shorts and indie flicks presence expresses a wide range of roles, appearing as the gruff hard man in shorts like The Debt Collector (2010) and as the aptly-named Devil in the indie feature Let It Bleed (2016). It was, however, his performance in the 2015 short Stray which is perhaps the most unique; depicting a society in which homosexuality is the mainstream orientation and heterosexuality is considered taboo. Catrini plays Doc, a highly closeted heterosexual who runs a gay camp. “It’s such a reversal of someone trying not to come out of the closet, only in reverse.”
Feeling the accent of his native roots would restrict the roles he could take, Catrini developed a broader scope of dialects and moves fluidly between them. It was Catrini’s work with dialects that secured him the role of the Israeli President in G.I. Joe Retaliation (2013). “My agent called and said, "You’re going in tomorrow, and you’re going to be a Scot. Can you do that?" So I go in and I do this Scottish dialect, and I get home and he says I’m going in for another audition: for an independent as a former KGB Soviet bad guy.”
As Catrini spoke he demonstrated his prowess with various accents. “I go in and they love it. I get home and [my agent] says, "Okay now, Monday. Could you do an Israeli dialect? You’d be playing the Israeli President in the new G.I. Joe movie." I said, "Sure," and that was on the Friday. I hung up the phone and my wife just says, "You can’t do an Israeli dialect," and I said, "I will by Monday."" After a crash course in Israeli dialects, Catrini booked the role three days later.
“People ask, "So what do you play?" I always say, “I’m not Dad at the side of the soccer field, cheering his kid on. I’m the guy who kidnaps the kid…or the guy who shows up to catch the guy, who kidnaps the kid.” [Catrini laughs]
Catrini had entered into the world of the Hollywood blockbuster, however his highest profile role would come in 2015, as work began on Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016).
“The audition was taped; three days later I received a call saying I’m gonna meet Ed Zwick...I get over [to New Orleans]. I did the read…and a month later, I’m going head to head with maybe one of the most iconic American screen stars of the past thirty-five years...Once it came out in October , the phones started ringing a little bit more.”
Asking what roles he sees himself taking in the future, with his momentum building, Catrini sheds light on a particular role he is excited to take on. “In Greenwich Village, New York, there was a club called the Gaslight Café, and its address was 116 MacDougal Street. Growing up in Brooklyn, my friends and I spent a lot of time in the Village. Legends of music got their starts here: Dylan, Tom Paxton, Peter Paul and Mary. Nobody knew who they were at the time. They're doing a film based off of the club and I think they’re trying to make it as accurate as possible. There were some mob connections, and I was graciously offered the role of one of the mob bosses.”
A musical biopic of the early sixties will certainly be an exciting addition to Catrini's catalogue as he also expressed his long term desires. “Most of what me and my wife watch is out of the UK and Ireland. I’m so respectful of the level of work that’s being done there. I do have plans to work there...many months ago I heard from a casting director prepping an independent film in London. I would very, very much like to work in the UK.” We recently received word that he will be, with an upper class British accent no less. Why are we not surprised?
This interview with Robert Catrini painted a portrait of a man who truly does the job for the love of the craft; a man who never forgets his roots; and desires to experience the world of film among the best in the business. With the momentum of Hollywood and the drive to do more, we can all hope for the name Robert Catrini to grace both sides of the Atlantic in a big way in the coming years.