Accomplished actor Tom Paolino is hoping to play boxing trainer Kevin Rooney in BLEED FOR THIS. He had hoped and trained for the part of champ Vinny Pazienza, the subject of the movie. With his intensity, he would have done the job well. The man who will play Paz will need to be younger. Take it from the Boston Film Industry Examiner, the clock beats us all, or as they might say in boxing, the bell.
The Boston Film Industry Examiner first met Tom on the set of Army of the Damned as it was being filmed in Cranston, RI. It was there that I learned of his passionate interest in BLEED FOR THIS.
BLEED FOR THIS is a project of Chad Verdi, impresario of Rhode Island’s Woodhaven Films. Woodhaven made Army of The Damned amongst many other movies Tom has been part of in the last few years. The Paz enthusiasm is a Rhode Island thing that Chad and Tom and thousands of other Ocean Staters share. I came away from the first meeting knowing little more about Tom than his desire to be part of the movie.
The Boston film Industry Examiner caught up with him a few weeks later at the Hollywood East Meet n Greet in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was there that another layer of the man was revealed. He was with director Chris Esper and Producer Creusa Michelazzo of the movie Please Punish Me. Please Punish Me is based on the House of No written by Tom. Tom has also written a novel. As we talked at the Meet N Greet, it became evident that there was a lot more to Tom than I had thought.
My next meeting was at the outside of a gym in Pawtucket. I had expected to meet Tom inside, but he was waiting to greet me. It is an aspect of emulating Paz. Vinny always entered the gym ready to train. Tom was dressed to work. Only then did we go into the Tri-Force MMA gym (http://triforcemma.com/). Though state of the art for MMA, it still has the aura and equipment of the boxing gym it was.
Upon entering and getting set, Tom, like most disciplined people follows a ritual. He starts not by declaring all that he is going to accomplish, but by writing down all the things he is grateful for. It is not a short list. Tom was inspired to do this by the writing of Rhonda Byrne. In listening to his recitation, I was struck by how exhaustive it was. Things most of us take for granted or never think of, Tom was expressing thanks for.
Seeking inspiration is part of the seriousness of Tom’s quest. Also, to that end he has worked with coach Tara Sage Steeves. Tom credits Tara’s encouragement in attracting his current job.
Tom was wearing a t-shirt for a cause, as do many. This one was as personal as you can get. On January 29th his father, afflicted with Leukemia, having received a bone marrow transplant, fell in the hospital. Tom texted his dad with the request, “Let me take care of you instead of a stranger.” In a wonderful example of filial piety, he drove through the snow to get to his father and did not leave his side for three weeks.
When you have done this with a beloved relative, you have had to feel at least some of what they went through. Tom was wearing the purple shirt of Rhode Island Team in Training. He will be running to raise money to defeat what afflicted his dad for his dad and others.
Family looms large in Tom’s life. Not just his dad, but also other members have rallied to his dream. His cousin Joe, who runs a family company, has been part of it. Paolino Properties is over a hundred years old. Joe employs Tom but is flexible enough to allow his cousin to meet all the requirements of his life as an actor and in pursuing his dream.
The closeness of the Paolino family was also evident in meeting his brother, Adam. Adam came in the gym dressed and ready to train, and why not? Adam is a Golden Gloves champion. Before Adam arrived, Tom had spoken of the night Adam won the Golden Glove championship in Lowell. He and his father were there and his dad said watching Adam win with Tom by his side was his best day.
Adam has a deep respect for the effort Tom is making. He terms his brother’s level of commitment as “1000% or nothing.” Adam continues to train and is weighing options as to a future in boxing. He is also helping Tom train.
Tom is truly a serious actor and has long been committed to his craft. Part of Sanford Meisner’s last group of students, he was a founding member of The Sanford Meisner Center for the Arts in Los Angeles. The Larry Moss book, The Intent to Live, has influenced him. Tom believes Moss to be the greatest acting coach.
What about the man Tom is auditioning to play? Kevin Rooney is a famous coach and is associated with the Cus D’Amato gym. The founder, D’Amato, was himself an icon in the boxing world. Rooney trained Mike Tyson and without Rooney, Tyson declined precipitously.
Kevin trained Vinny Paz and the partnership worked well. When Tom was working toward the goal of playing Vinny, he moved to Catskill, NY where the D’Amato Gym is located. Kevin must have seen something in Tom as he took him on for free. Tom got a job on a horse farm and every day saw him in the gym at 4:30 p.m. without fail, ready to go.
With Martin Scorsese as Executive Producer and Ben Younger directing, BLEED FOR THIS is going to be big. It is impossible to imagine anyone auditioning knows Kevin Rooney as well as Tom Paolino. If you’ve met him, it is equally impossible to imagine anyone with as much passion for the project as Tom.
You can keep up with Tom at his facebook actor's page here.