Acting came early for Angelo Montano, appearing at the age of four in the fondly acclaimed Australian series A Country Practice in 1981. For the next 40 years, he has built on his career as an actor, taking on roles in award-winning Aussie dramas like Underbelly, Packed to The Rafters, Bikie Wars, and Neighbours.
Angelo has not been limited to playing characters on television, having also tackled big-budget international tent pole movies with Disney’s Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and fighting alongside Asia’s No. 1 Mega Star Jackie Chan First Strike.
With a long list of productions, movies, and streaming series, currently underway locally, Angelo’s has recently scored a major movie role set to start filming on the Gold Coast this summer. His long list of credits has placed him in the envious position of being asked to audition for three other roles before the end of 2021, which includes a new children’s streaming series.
His olive complexion and good looks, born from Italian heritage, have benefited casting agents when looking for cultural diversity. Angelo slips into the part with ease, whether taking on drama or comedy. From performing on stage in theatre productions to television commercials, he learns and hones his craft and love for acting.
For Angelo, his acting can benefit from his personal growth, using his life lessons and bringing that to the characters and roles he plays. He also knows that you have to keep working at it with anything you love and put the time in to broaden your education. So, he enjoys nothing more than attending a peer workshop, hoping to improve on his passion so he can put everything into each performance and gig.
After recently taking a forced break for two years to look after his seriously ill young Daughter, who needed full-time care, Angelo has returned to acting.
FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Angelo to discuss his journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself?
Well, what can I say? I enjoy making people laugh and putting a smile on people’s faces; everyone has an amazing story to tell; I enjoy acting, or as I call it, my role play. I love impersonating characters and being funny, nothing better than seeing people happy. I also do many charity works for sick children and help those less fortunate. As I always say, there’s always someone worse off out there. So things are never as bad as it seems.
How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
I was four years old, living in Sydney in 1981 when a friend from school’s father worked on A Country Practice – he needed a boy to play a hospital patient, so me being an out-there child, jumped at the chance. I was always the entertainer in my family and, as you could say centre of attention (laughs). I then went on a year later and played an autistic child on the show. My love of television was known as a child, sitting like a metre away from the television, learning, and copying every show I watched, even romper room. I always wanted to be famous. Because to me, it was something inside that said if people around you are smiling and laughing, you keep doing what you are doing. I had a loving family around me that always laughed and smiled even if times were tough. From then on, I did everything in the entertainment industry, from school lead roles in musicals and cameo television appearances to even being on young talent time as a junior performer. My mum and grandad were my rocks; they took me and sacrificed a lot for me at a young age to follow my dreams.
What do you like most about acting?
I’ve probably answered that already – getting to play various roles and challenging myself, and being in the moment. As I got older, I learned to act differently; being younger, I was more worried about being seen on a film or television or showing off (laughs). But after years of experience, my goal was to really take on the person I’m playing and be him – focused on playing the best part I can with what I have at hand. You might have an idea of what the role is but so do others. I used to focus on getting the script right and making sure directors were happy. But I took a different approach and thought to myself, hey, be the guy, show them who you are, and always stay in character. As I call it – be the person I’m playing to be. The best thing I love about acting is seeing people say, wow, you were great; it gives me self-satisfaction and determination to do more because I’ve done right by the character and right by the public. Meeting so many wonderful people who share your enthusiasm and passion for the industry is satisfying. But mainly, it’s to tell stories through different people I have played and hope that I do the character justice and deliver an amazing performance.
How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?
Good question. They are totally different in a lot of ways. I’ve worked on many American and Australian productions, and it’s such a massive difference. I enjoy working on large films; sometimes, you feel like just a number or not famous as the main cast. Because of its large scale, it’s a lot more rushed and more pressure, a lot more crew watching your work which is a good thing though you feel like a celebrity at times (laughs). TV series is great because you get to meet many local talented people, make good friends, and network in the industry. I have done lots of various roles in short films as well. In my spare time, I helped many film students and did many projects to challenge myself for future productions. TV series is also good because you can be known for that character and remembered if you execute an outstanding or memorable performance.
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
Well, I guess my weak points were focusing too much on the script in my earlier years, worrying about stuffing up the lines, and not focusing on the character I would play. As I grew older, I learned not to worry so much and take on that character and be that person without being in their shoes for real. I always try to use my life experiences and what I’ve learned to better or improve my skills to adapt to the character.
What are your strong points as an actor?
Being believable and having people say, wow! I guess I naturally have that ability now without sounding egotistical. But it’s taken a lot of hard work and experience to get to where I am. Some are luckier in a sense, while others take time. But if you believe in yourself, you never give up, and I have done this my whole life. My strong points would be my dedication and training to be better to move with the times, the diversity of characters I can play from gangster to policeman to father to villain, and even drama. I love new challenges so I can break away from my stereotypical look.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
Wow, tough question! Directors love filming and have chosen that path, and I love acting to make it come alive for them. Many directors are set in their ways, and they have an idea of what they want to achieve on set. Others have asked me for input to make scenes jump out, so I guess you could say I learned creativity from them, and in the end, we are the same. We all have a story to tell; they do it from behind the camera, we have to make their story and their dream come to fruition through our performance. In the end, it’s a mutual effort for all.
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
It’s definitely a lot easier in a sense now with technology. We used to have composite cards and written resumes back in my day. Our agents did the best they could, having so many on the books, so you had to stand out. I remember getting in trouble for watching too much television (laughs). I had to explain to my parents that I was sitting there with a notebook taking down casting directors and directors’ names so I could write them a letter and send my composite cards to them and hopefully have a meeting or a chance to audition for upcoming films or shows. There’s also competing with so many talented people when the roles you thought were perfect for, cast someone totally different from what they wanted. I was lucky in so many ways as I always connected well with panel auditions and directors and casting directors. Nowadays, it’s pretty much a screen test, and I believe it’s like a lottery because nothing beats an actual performance on the spot like an improv or an audition face to face. I think we worry too much now; there are so many difficulties around us in this world with acting and film that we just have to do the best with what we have and do an amazing job to the best of our ability.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
Doing the same character as the scriptwriter envisaged to create and make that person appear in real life. Also, making sure you do the character justice and be creative with it from many angles, I always like to give a different vision as well but mainly stick to the task at hand. It’s also the actors around you that make this magical if you have a talented bunch that gel together; this is where movie magic happens. I love to work with actors who have that natural ability to flow with each other, and this is where it comes to life.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
Usually, apply for more roles and try to keep myself busy and keep training or networking with others. I love spending time with my beautiful wife Elsa, my little princess Valentina, and my immediate family and friends, who are all so supportive. Nothing is better than being at home after being on set for so long – it’s the precious times we spend with our family and friends that mean the most; after all, they have all supported my journey, and I can’t thank them enough.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
There’s too many to mention. I’d say going to the Logies as an invited guest in 2011 for Underbelly on channel 9 – that was a dream come true. To be in the same room with so many Australian actors and actresses whom I’ve watched on television and being around them was so surreal at that time; I felt I had achieved so much personally. One highlight that has stayed with me was meeting Nicolas Cage while on the set of Knowing; he was an amazing man. I’ve probably forgotten the thousands I’ve met across the years, but they are all special to me as we are all in this field together.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I’ve become great friends with Ian McFadyen, the writer, and director of the comedy Company, Let the blood run free, and many more productions he has done over the years. I looked up to him as comedy was my life as a child. He is currently directing and writing for our new show called meet the Guido’s; it’s amazing to have such a great man with a wealth of knowledge to learn from and actually fulfill another of my life’s dreams to work with – a man I watched as a child on television.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Hopefully, me, of course (laughs). Probably John Travolta or Christopher Walken; I get compared a lot to these two actors in my work, so that can be interesting. Otherwise, Al Pacino or anyone from the Sopranos.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
It’s a busy time ahead for me. I’ve been cast in some major productions coming up so far. So I have some major lead roles in some big upcoming productions – look out for me on the big screen next year. I’m spending as much time as I can with my family, enjoying my time, and seeing my gorgeous little girl Valentina grow day by day. Other than that, it’s reading scripts and working on my projects on hand and, of course, talking to you beautiful people at FilmCentral magazine.
Is there is anything else or interesting you can tell us.
I’ve had longevity in the industry, and I want to thank all the people who have believed in me and given me opportunities to fulfill my dreams and my love of acting. I spent a lot of time helping out sick children in hospitals collecting for charity’s; it’s very close to my heart, pardon the pun, as my daughter, Valentina, was diagnosed with a major heart condition from birth, and it’s been a wild journey, to say the least having her heart operation – it really shocked our family. I spent weeks walking around the hospital to help sick children to put a smile on their faces. I always said we were lucky because there is someone worse off out there than us at the moment; this gave me personal satisfaction more than anything I had achieved. It made me feel complete to give something back to those less fortunate or going through worse situations than us.