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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Tom Benedict Knight

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Photographer Karina Lidia

Tom Benedict Knight stars as Michael Franzese in Sony’s God The Father, the life story of ‘La Cosa Nostra’ boss Michael Franzese, the Mob boss who became a Minister of the Church. British actor Tom Benedict Knight shines as Franzese, playing him from his mob days right through to becoming a preacher. Knight has an uncanny resemblance to the former mob boss and was praised for his work by the man himself. Perhaps not surprisingly, Tom is known for his diverse range of accents and has successfully created 31 accents in one single take.

God The Father takes us on an ‘untold’ personal journey of Michael Franzese, a young and charismatic Capo in the Colombo Mafia during the 1980‘s-90's and who's notorious father Sonny Franzese was also a renowned Underboss. Following in his father’s footsteps, in the mid-1980s, Fortune Magazine listed Franzese as number 18 on its list of the 'Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses’. He renounced the life of crime in 1987 and began seeking redemption as a Christian.

Since bursting into the acting scene in 2011 Tom Benedict Knight has enjoyed a wide range of roles in features like Kick Ass 2 alongside Chole Grace Moretz and Arron Taylor Johnson, as well as the upcoming Universal Studios motion picture Dracula Untold alongside Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper. This talented actor also recently played Houdini’s brother Dash in Nicholas Meyer’s 4 hour miniseries Houdini, alongside Academy winner Adrien Brody and Kristen Connolly.

I had the recent pleasure of an interview with Tom.

Q. Our readers in Australia may not know a lot about you. Tell us about your background and growing up into the acting profession?

A. Thanks for the interest! I was/am an entrepreneur who decided I need to stop just making/chasing material gains and wanted to do something more creative. I've always been communicating, selling and trying to convince people my ideas were good so acting seemed like a great thing to try out, twenty films later I'm still loving the trying out process.

Q. As far as God The Father goes, what did you think when you first heard about this story and the proposed title? Did the script attract you totally?

A. Blew me away. To play a living mob boss, whilst he watched me play him? As a GoodFellas and Casino fan it was likely the ultimate rush for me, exhilarating doesn't describe it.

Q. You've been in a couple of good films in the past three years. Has this recent past been a real breakthrough time for you?

A. I did my first movie in 2011/12 and got a main part, so for me only being in this business for 3/4 years each role is a breakthrough. Working with Oscar winners and household names blows me away and I'm left pinching myself each time.

Q. How do you feel about the nature of this film (God The Father) with the underworld boss seeking redemption? Will it sit well with the audience?

A. I think it‘s one of those situations that shows real change in a man, and a previously 'bad’ man at that. For someone to come from Mafia life of crime and find God, it does raise the question in all of us, if he can do it, maybe I can too… and that might be just being better to the ones I love or doing the washing up more often, who knows. It certainly creates intrigue every time I tell or hear the story being told about Michael Franzese's transformation.

Q. Tell us about the cast and crew who worked with you on the film?

A. What an incredible crew and cast! Director Simon Fellows was quite literally the best communicator I've worked with as a Director was incredible. Really taking time to break down each scene so specifically, great to work with. The Director of Photography Vilmos Zsigmond is a living legend, having shot DeNiro in The Deer Hunter and winning an Oscar for it, not to mention shooting every leading man in Hollywood over the last thirty years with Spielbergs first 10-15 films as his cameraman. When you work with people like that in your second year as an actor it's mind boggling. The Cast I worked with namely Amanda Fernando Stevens and Raffielo Degruttola were amazing, really giving everything for the roles and giving so much back to me as an actor it made the scenes we did really come to life, quite incredible.

Q. What has been the reaction to the film across the United States?

A. It scored 9th highest in the whole of the US for release performance on the week it was released (same week as Guardians of the Galaxy) in a test of 100 screens. It gets a full national release at Easter 2015 across the whole of the US, excited to see how it does nationally.

Q. What other projects have you been working on and what's likely for next year?

A. Since God the Father I've shot Houdini with Adrien Brody playing his brother, just been in Universal's Dracula Untold and also shot three other independent features that will be in cinemas next year, the most prominent being THE CALL UP. It's a movie about a virtual shoot em game that we go into to have fun a win a cash prize, thing is if you die in the game, the game starts to kill you in real life. I play one of the gamers who goes into the game to fight to the bitter end but end's up being way more than just a gamer. Watch this space…

God The Father is produced by Moshe Diamant and directed by Simon Fellows.

Follow the progress of the film towards its US national release in late March by visiting the official website