The Tidbit had the pleasure of chatting with actor Mark Gagliardi, who is currently playing the role of Father Chuck on Blood & Treasure (which airs Tuesdays on CBS). We talk all things entertainment and Chicago!
The Tidbit: Tell us about Blood & Treasure and your role of Father Chuck. What can audiences look forward to with the series?
Mark Gagliardi: Audiences can look forward to a globetrotting blockbuster summer treasure hunt! It’s right there in the title, “Treasure,” but not so much with the blood though. There’s not a lot of blood. That’s just a phrase, “Blood and Treasure.” You know what isn’t a phrase? “Explosions and Treasure.” It’s too bad because we have some epic explosions in this show! We also have a lot of other epic stuff in store. It should be called “Car Chases, Kidnappings, Double-Crosses, Boats, Sexy People in Tuxedos and Dresses, Italian Black Market Bazaar, Nazi Ghost Train, & Treasure,” but that would be harder to search on Amazon Prime.
The show centers on Danny and Lexi, who are basically Indiana Jones and Carmen Sandiego, if those two were exes forced to work together to thwart an international terrorist who funds his exploits with blood antiquities. The show is full of really fun characters. Some are shady, some righteous, some mischievous and some honorable. Father Chuck is Danny’s childhood best friend. They were separated by an ocean, until Danny landed in Chuck’s backyard at the Vatican. (Oh yeah, Chuck works at the Vatican. Pretty cool!) Chuck loves Danny like a brother. How he feels about the other characters, well… you’ll just have to watch.
The wonderful thing about playing Father Chuck is that he’s often in intimate, heartfelt scenes that are really fun to play. I love the scenes focused on what the characters are doing, but there’s something special about the scenes focused on why they’re doing it. Chuck is out of his depth in huge moments (you’ll see as the season progresses) but an expert in the smaller ones. He’s an ear when he needs to be, a conscience when he needs to be, a friend when he needs to be, and an annoying brother quoting a movie when he wants to be.
TT: Blood & Treasure seems rather adventurous! What has been the most fun or interesting aspect of this project?
MG: “Seeing the world and meeting new people” sounds like a cliché from an online dating profile, but it is, in fact, what I spent the last year doing. It began the moment I got the job. “You’re moving to Montreal for a while,” my agent said. I had never been to Montreal. As it turns out, it is a stunning slice of European heaven, just north of the border! It has beautiful cobblestones, killer food, a festival every weekend, street signs in French, so it feels like a tiny Europe – gorgeous. I met a cast that is as kind as they are talented and a crew that is as affable as they are capable. I watched master craftspeople create a booby-trapped Egyptian tomb, blow up a block of downtown, and bring this menagerie of characters to life.
After four months in Montreal, we took the show to Rome. I have always been a big history buff, so when I got the opportunity to see one of the cradles of civilization I was overjoyed. I soaked up as much of that city as I could in a month. I visited every museum, touched every ancient building, and ate all the gelato. The best part is our cast and crew were just as excited to be there as I was, so there was always someone to share the adventure with.
TT: I see that you studied at DePaul. What is your favorite thing about Chicago?
MG: My favorite thing about Chicago is deep dish pizza, specifically from Lou Malnati’s. Oh, and Second City. I used to rollerblade there every week and watch Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit, and other legends perform sketches and improv. I fell in love with the form and it changed my life. Also, I love the Cubs. I once sold hot dogs at Wrigley Field and it was a magical day in a classic park, maybe even my favorite park. Take that, Father Chuck! I prefer Wrigley to Fenway!
Wait! Can I change my answers? These are things that EVERYONE loves about Chicago. One Chicago love shared by significantly fewer people is my alma mater, The Theatre School at DePaul. I spent four years of twelve hour days in a former Catholic elementary school sweating, memorizing, exploring, and playing with an ambitious group of talented friends and teachers. I really think it is the world’s best theatre training. It set me up with skills and friends for life. Just this week I went with my old roommate to see a bunch of classmates in a play in Los Angeles, directed by our mentor and it was so good! It was some of the best theatre I have seen in a long time. It made me nostalgic and proud of the place I called home for such an important time.
TT: You have quite the list of credits! What has been your favorite role so far?
MG: There’s one role that pops up frequently on my resume that has always been my favorite: Ensemble.
TT: What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
MG: Like Father Chuck, I will quote a movie: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it were easy everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” (A League Of Their Own)
Listen to your mentors. Play the game with people who are better at it than you. Seek humanity. Find your tribe and love it fiercely.