Check out our recent interview with Luis Da Silva Jr. !
upfrontNY: How did you get your start in acting?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: I first got started in the industry with a national basketball campaign. They were looking to shoot basketball performers for this Nike campaign. They couldn’t find what they were looking for in professional athletes and I had the opportunity to display some never before seen types of ball handling and dribbling skills. The commercial aired in 2001 and became a global success, the cover of Time Magazine, the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and became the new trend for the use of implementing Hip Hop street dance and basketball tricks. It was huge in Asia and different markets out there. I signed an endorsement deal with Nike, doing ad campaigns, promotions, and prints. I grew a passion for entertaining.
I took time away from basketball and started concentrating on classes for acting and in 2007 had my first break with The Brave One with Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard. It was directed by Neil Jordan who had seen me perform at Madison Square Garden during one of my half time performances. 10/15 years later I made the transition from basketball to acting.
upfrontNY: What do you love most about acting?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: What I love most about it is acting is that acting gives you the ability to create and respond on emotions. It is like having a blank canvas and the directors give you the opportunity to create.
upfrontNY: When you booked the Nike campaign, did you have any idea it would lead you to where you are today?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: Absolutely not. When I was in high school I never even took drama or theatre. Basketball was my main focus. When I had the opportunity with the basketball campaign, I thought it was just going to be that commercial, but it got such a great global response. Today I have personal relationships with NBA stars who loved that campaign and remembered seeing it when they were growing up. It is good to know that after all these years, this Nike campaign is still remembered.
upfrontNY: When you were growing up inspired by other basketball players?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: Of course! I was in the era with Michael Jordan and I got to see him play. Even later in his career, Allen Iverson showed a merging of hip-hop and basketball. He broke a lot of boundaries, the tattoos, and the imagery, the style and flair. I am a big basketball lover.
upfrontNY: Can you tell us about your role in Kickboxer: Vengeance?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: I play a character named Stahl who is the right hand to a character (Marcia) that Gina Corano plays. We are kind of the bookies, the money-making machine behind the fighting. The movie is with Dave Bautista and Jean-Claude Van Damme. This is a good action flick filled with talent. The list goes on of stars coming together and taking the art of acting so seriously day in and day out.
upfrontNY: What was it like preparing for this role?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: Very similar to my previous film that I worked on 21 Jump Street, I was a fan of the work. My mom and me would religiously watch the show every single week growing up. So to have the opportunity to work on that feature was phenomenal. Growing up as a young boy, I studied martial arts when I was young, Aikido and was a big fan of the kickboxing. To have the remake and work on it was a humbling experience knowing that something you grew up doing and watching and being a fan of you now have the opportunity to work on it. Also to see Jean-Claude Van Damne again, I worked with him before on Dragon Eyes. He is a phenomenal guy and a talented man.
upfrontNY: Can you tell us about your film The Life and Death of John Gotti and what that experience was like?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: I got the phone call from a personal friend, John Travolta who told me about the film and presented me with a couple of characters that he felt I would be best suited for and that he would like for me to play. I gave him the control. His wife Kelly Preston will be playing Victoria and his daughter is in the film. It is something that has a lot of substance and meaning for him and it has been 8 years in the making. I am playing Dr. Carmine who is a medical practitioner while he (John Gotti) is in prison going through his last days when he was fighting cancer.
My character is completely different than my other roles. Every tattoo is covered up, clean-cut, bald head. My first day on set, I get there and the director Kevin Connolly is looking around for Dr. Carmine to start doing the read through before we do our first scene and he is yelling out where am I when I’m standing right next to him. He said he would never have guessed because of how I looked completely different than in any of my headshots.
This is going to have a lot more authenticity because John Gotti ‘s actual son John A Gotti who lived it and experienced it was there hands on picking every scene and putting it together.
upfrontNY: What are you most looking forward to when seeing it?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: It is going to be fulfilling with the sense of how it shows a range of my ability. Any time an actor is so heavily branded or viewed upon as the new bad guy in Hollywood or the up and coming new villain and to transition so early in my career and be in a film with so much star power, it is good to know that I am on the right track.
I am excited for all of my movies to be released. Whether it is a 100 million dollar movie or 100 thousand dollars, the amount of effort everyone does, the cast and crew, there is a lot of blood sweat and tears.
upfrontNY: You have a lot of great credits. Does one filming experience stand out?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: Good question. Maybe The Life and Death of John Gotti. There were so many projects that I’ve worked on that I love, but this one is completely different because I am not killing anyone nor am I dying. I am playing a medical practitioner so that is completely different. I think regardless of how much screen time is presented and allotted for my character, it shows a range and a range that has importance and is a vital part of the film. I am anxious for its release.
upfrontNY: You have been part of a Nike campaign, acted, and wrote a children’s book. Are there any experiences you have not tried yet that you one day hope to try?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: Absolutely. Like many other actors my main goal now is to continue the success and progress. Moving forward later on in my career I would like to take bigger responsibilities like possibly direct.
upfrontNY: Is there anything you want others to know?
Luis Da Silva Jr.: I have a project out now. It won some independent awards. It is directed by Jim Jarmusch called Paterson. That is currently out now. It is about a very popular author from Paterson and his stage name was Paterson as well. It is a very good piece played by a very talented actor and better friend Adam Driver.