Tom E. Nicholson [Interview]


Hello Folks! We have a wonderful new interview with another wonderful artist to share with you all. If you can remember to just a few days ago, we had a feature go live about an incredible, and dare I say important, film entitled Wade in the Water. In those words we discussed the film’s lead roles which were an absolute highlight of the film. One of those roles was brilliantly portrayed by the great Tom E. Nicholson.

Tom is a new find for us here at Trainwreck’d Society, with Wade in the Water being the first role we have had the fortune in seeing him in. And now that we know he is mastermind of the acting class, he is a force to be reckoned with that we will be following from this day forward. His role as “Our Man” is the sort of thing that breeds geniuses of their craft, and we are so excited to see what the future holds for Tom, and what amazing projects he will take on in the future. He has done some wonderful work behind the scenes for quite some time, but to see Tom in front of the camera adding his own emotional depth to a story is quite something.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful responses from the great Tom E. Nicholson!




What inspired you to get into the world of acting? Was it something you have dreamt of doing since a youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

When I was a young boy I was very outgoing. I liked being in school plays and performing for family members.  As I hit my teens, I started to get more self conscious of my size, less confident in myself and became less extroverted. I knew I always wanted to be involved in film, my first dream was to be a film director.  I went to film school @ Quinnipiac University. After that I moved to L.A. to pursue a career behind the camera.  I quickly became a 1st Assistant Director on low budget films.  I’ve made more than 80 feature films over the past 16 years and became a member the Directors Guild of America 7 years ago.  If you hang out on a film set long enough, eventually you end up in front of the camera.  An actor or an extra wouldn’t show up and they ask me to fill in.  They were small or nonspeaking roles so I didn’t think much of it. A few years ago I produced a movie in Ohio (Rotor DR1). The director has asked me to play a decent sized speaking role.  I was apprehensive because of my already excessive workload as the producer, but I did it and it turned out to be the best part of my day.

I came back to L.A. after that shoot and started going on auditions for fun, yes auditioning for fun.  Going into an audition and playing pretend for a few minutes became a good outlet for my re-emerging creativity and was a fun hobby.  Working as a 1st A.D., you’re generally not asked for creative opinions, so I had to push those creative juices down.  Auditioning was a way to be silly and have fun without all the pressure. But then, I started booking stuff.  I still wasn’t taking acting seriously until they called me back for a second audition for Wade in the Water.  All of a sudden I was close to booking the lead in a feature film, kind of a big deal.  The pressure was on, but my fiancee reminded me on the phone before my second audition, that I was doing this to have fun, so just go in and have fun.  Needless to say I booked the lead role in Wade in the Water.  With all the success it has had so far, I decided to take my acting career more seriously and signed with an agent (Carrie Macy talent agency).  I try not to take myself too serious and still have fun, but I’m taking the idea of making acting a career more seriously.

What was your very first gig in the world of performance? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this first project that you still insert into your work today?

My first major role was as a character names “4C”, a power hungry, black market boss in the family friendly, post apocalyptic film Rotor DR1.  The main thing I took away is that acting is as complicated as you make it.  Meaning if you keep can keep it simple, you are more relatable to the audience.   I took the idea of less is more to my role as “Our Man” in Wade in the Water.  I focused less on the lines and more on the moments between them, the eye movements, the beard touching, the little details. I think those actions feel more real and give more weight to the lines and the character.  I also worked closely with Mark Wilson (Director) and Chris Retts (Writer) on removing words or lines wherever possible.  If I could relay the feelings and words to the audience without speaking them, it would give them a more intimate relationship with the character.

You gave an absolutely PERFECT performance in one of my favorite films of 2019, entitled Wade In The Water. Can you tell our readers about this project, and what drew you to be a part of it?

Wow, that is a flattering description of my performance and the film, I’m glad you enjoyed it.  Thank you for the compliment.   I could go on for hours on what drew me to this project.  The fact that it had a guy that looked liked me as the lead role.  Let’s be honest, there isn’t a lot of scripts that have someone my size as the lead. Or the fact that I didn’t have a ton of experience acting and this gave me a chance to really see what I was capable of. Or the fact that the characters size was just one aspect of story, not the entire plot.   But the driving force that drew me to this project was the script.  It is a complicated, unapologetic, dive into deeply personal human relationships.  It doesn’t steer away from controversy or take a stance on right and wrong.  In real life, there isn’t good OR evil, there is good AND evil and everyone has a percentage of both inside of them.  This script was so unique in it’s story telling.  It has an untraditional act structure and is a breathe of fresh air in the Hollywood world of recycled stories and CGI action sequences.  The character of “Our Man” is a complicated one. He could be viewed as a hero or a criminal or both.   I am a much different person in real life than my character, but I was able to bring some personal touches to the script.  Most of them were to show the audience the day to day struggles of a big guy. For example, getting out of a low car with a small door, or finding clothes that fit right, engaging with the public, etc.

Working with Mark Wilson, the director of Wade in the Water, was an absolute dream.  He always knew the direction we needed to head, the beats of the story and what tone was right.  Which is so important in this kind of story where pacing and tone are vital to its success. He took a big chance on casting me, He knew when to pull me in when I strayed to far with the character, but gave me plenty of slack to go where I wanted to.  He was really in complete control of the story in a way that gave control of the character, it’s a fine line to walk and he did it perfectly.

I think what makes this film so special is the foundation, the script.  Chris Retts went way out of his comfort zone and came up with a beautiful piece of humanity and relationships that was very unique in an unoriginal time in the industry.

Danika Golombek is one of the most talented actors I’ve ever work with in my 16 years of filmmaking experience.  She not only told the complicated story of “Tilly” perfectly, but her presence amplified my own acting in the film.  The film is really about Tilly and Our Man’s relationship and without her incredible performance, the film as a whole wouldn’t have worked as well as it did.




Scrolling through your IMDb credits, I’ve noticed that you have worked in what seems to be just about every genre of film and television imaginable. From comedic horror to reality TV, you’ve been in them all! So with that, I am curious to know what you have found to be your favorite genre to work in? If you were destined to only work in one format, what would it be? 

Well to be clear, my “reality tv” credits was just my fiancee, Meredith, and I getting to go eat at the “restaurant” on the Fox show Hell’s Kitchen.  My best friend worked on the show and was able to get us on.  We made the final cut of the episode, the camera came to our table and we were talking about the amazing food.

I think film is my favorite medium, it gives you the time and platform to dive deep into and develop a character.  Drama is certainly the best stage to do so as well.  But I also really enjoy making people laugh.  I tried to bring some subtle comic relief to Wade in the Water‘s very serious script.   I am also very interested in the direction t.v. has recently gone.  Networks, premium channels and streaming services have really stepped up the story telling game and I would love to be a part of that.  Shows like This is Us, Billions, and Insecure have really embraced plus sized, LGBTQ and minority actors.  I hope to continue to be able to tell stories no matter what the format, especially in this rapidly changing digital landscape.  I don’t think actors should be associated with one genre, if you can act, you can act, doesn’t matter what the material is.  To be honest, I would love to take a role that would normally be reserved for a traditionally handsome/average size actor, like the lead in a romantic comedy or action film or something, it would be nice to break some barriers for plus size people.

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any historical figure in American history, who would it be?

Well given my size, I feel like I would be limited to accurately portray many historical figures. But growing up just south of Boston, I have always been fascinated with the time just before the Revolutionary war.  There were so many brave people who saw an opportunity for something greater than themselves and risked everything to go after that dream. So I would love to play Sam Adams, John Adams, Daniel Webster, John Hancock, or anyone in the “Sons of liberty” group.  They embodied bravery, intelligence, equality and acceptance.  They fought for government for the people, that was not driven by ones faith, but rights as a human being.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

It feels strange pretty much starting my acting career with the lead role in a feature film, so who knows where I go from here. I do currently have some things in the works I can’t quite talk about yet, but I am excited to see where this crazy ride takes me.  I would say keep an eye out for Wade in the Water as we hopefully finalize it’s mass release soon.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Standing with my fiancee on our deck, overlooking the ocean, surrounded by my amazing friends, watching fireworks.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

One Response to Tom E. Nicholson [Interview]

  1. Linda Messina says:

    I absolutely loved Wade In The Water! I am an LCSW and am interested in most subjects relating to Psychology, This film with Tom Nicholson does not disappoint. Danika Golumbek also delivers. The subject matter is quite topical as so many child sexual abuse cases have come to light.

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