Catharsis, the Greek term Aristotle used to describe using the performing arts for purging negative emotions, is an oft-cited reason people watch horror movies. Because I'm the type to cringe uncontrollably on the mildest of roller coasters, I'm not the kind of person to voluntarily endure 90 minutes of on-screen terror. But I am thankful for the folks who have committed their lives to make others squirm in their seats. Apparently, the academic jury's out on whether horror films incite, or hinder, violence; but my thought is for most of us it keeps us morally in check as we revile the villain we love to hate.
Dave Vescio, ex-con turned Hollywood actor starring in the movie "Hick" to be released this spring, is one such character who made his way from jungle warfare training to drug dealing to prison to Los Angeles via CBS news in a long journey to finding his truest purpose in life.
His early military training and later incarceration for drug trafficking taught him the hardest lesson of all: life is a bumpy ride. It can get messy and people can get messed up. Lucky for us viewers, he quickly realized his life was taking a wrong turn. While in prison, he got clean and sober and has since dedicated his life to bringing truth to every story he tells.
He studied Broadcast Journalism at Virginia Tech after prison, and Vescio soon found himself working as a TV Photojournalist for CBS News. He covered natural and man-made disasters that would make most of us unsteady, if not revolted. Having been exposed to so much human emotion, Vescio careened on the edge of burnout, seeking a new avenue to express the feelings that his upbringing in a military family did not allow. He found his way to New York City where he enrolled as a full-time student at the Atlantic Theater Company in NYC led by an impressive ensemble, the likes of writer/director David Mamet and actor William H. Macy (Fargo). Dave quickly found his passion for playing the villain in theater plays and feature films.
When I asked him how he stays motivated to keep playing the 'bad guy', he responded by saying, "I may have a bad day or two, but then after waking up the next day, I always become clear that we are all here for the reason. The reality is we need these stories. We need fairytales." The power of storytelling is apparent in everything we do. From advertising to writing books to acting to making a film to blogging for Psychology Today, each one of us is trying to get a story told in the most authentic way possible. Our stories are the most unique part of being human.
Performing on screen has always been a natural medium for Dave. For nine years he has meticulously perfected his craft, focusing on the antagonist and offbeat roles and developing his own unique style of acting. Four or five times a week he'll go out on the streets of LA just to hold a monologue to see how people will react. The street corner is the best soundstage for trying out new things. "I tend to hang out with the crazy people so I fit in," he quipped.
With his stunning ability to step into the mind of the character, and a preference of provocative and controversial roles, Dave offers a performance that invades audience's comfort zones. He doesn't want you to like him. In fact, if he's done his job right, he says you'll hate him.
Always attracted to the darker side of life, Dave Vescio has performed in over 40 horror and science fiction films, including SyFy's Gemini Rising, Lionsgate's Virus X, and the thriller Lost Soul. A rapidly rising star, Vescio takes the helm of the villainous role in the upcoming blockbuster Hick (in theaters May 11, 2012) alongside a star-studded ensemble including Alec Baldwin, Blake Lively, Juliette Lewis, and Chloe Moretz.
In true power of slow fashion, Dave has found his purpose in life. It may not make us comfortable to watch him perform, but it does serve as a reminder that our time, and what we do with it, is all any of us really has.