Not only does actor and producer Adam Ambruso have a mission to combat sexual harassment in Hollywood and in the workforce, but he also continues to give back and help out other people in his community. His most recent film Butterfly Caught is set to hit movie theaters in September. The film touches on two hot social awareness topics which are human trafficking and sexual harassment. As a supporter of the Me Too movement, Adam hopes the message that viewers take away is that you don’t have to give up your body to get what you want in life. We chatted with Adam about his character, Randy, and his upcoming projects.
Cliché: You just finished your latest project, Butterfly Caught. It’s worth mentioning that this film touches on a very sensitive and important topic, which is sexual harassment. What was your experience like making the film?
Adam Ambruso: Overall, the team that was making the film was amazing. Manny Rodriguez Jr., who was the director, writer and the producer of the film, along with his wife, have become great friends of mine. My experience was amazing because I enjoyed the team that was making the film and it was challenging for me because I was also working a lot while making the film. I was working a full-time job. So I would be filming all night and then I would be back up at a job in the morning. I lost weight during the shoot because I got a bit run down while filming. I learned so much about action scenes, quick filmmaking, working with gun control, SWAT, and the fire department. My role required firearms and the team wanted me to look like I have been on the SWAT and on the police force for some good amount of time.
Can you describe your character, Randy?
He is a police officer in the film. The script was handed to me by my acting coach at the time, who is now my mentor and producing partner. The minute I looked at the script and read it, I was like, wow, I really resonate with this character named Randy. Throughout the film, Randy is essentially the good guy. So I totally had to play this guy. Randy is the one redeeming character in the film that you are sort of rooting for in the entire movie. He was a crucial character because everyone’s bad and flawed characters juxtaposed against this central strong character that you have to believe throughout the film. He is just a good altruistic police officer who tries to right wrongs, and at the same time, live a full life.
Do you relate to him at all?
I think I relate to Randy because I am the same guy in many ways. In life, I’m also altruistic and I have this vision of me helping humanity. I feel the reason why I am in this industry and in business is that I believe that I am supposed to help people in the larger scale. Nowadays, I help people in my local community. But sometimes people will say, “Why am I in this industry? Why am I given opportunities like this?” I believe it’s because there is a responsibility that comes with that and I feel this desire and need to help more people. So I think Randy and I are very altruistic people who try to help society be better.
What’s the message of the film?
There are a lot of messages to this film. I know we call it a Me Too movement film, but to say that, I feel like it shortchanges the film. The film is much more than that. There is a lot going on in the film. For instance, the issues that the characters have as human beings, which people can relate to. But there is a central theme in the movie of one of the main lead characters. Everything sort of centers around her story of giving up her body to get what she wants in the business and a director taking advantage of that. In the end, I won’t spoil it but things don’t work out as she had anticipated.
How do you hope viewers respond to this film and what would you like them to take away from the film?
I hope viewers respond by feeling that this was true. It was real. That this was a slice of life and it ringed true for them and it impacted them. I hope viewers are not only moved by the film but that it’s also shocking. I also hope they feel the pain of the characters and that it resonates with them while watching the film. I always said that I wanted to make movies that moved, touched and changed people. So that is what I think will happen when people watch this movie. What I hope they take away is that you don’t have to give up your integrity, your body, or your soul to a degree, to get what you want in life. You have to stay true to yourself and honor yourself. That’s the right choice. If you make sacrifices in who you are, it will change you as a human being and you will not find happiness that way.
After you watched the film, how did you react to it and what did you take away from it?
Well, it’s always hard to watch me on camera in a film. So the first thing I had to get past was watching me in the film. Once I did that, I have seen it several times because I been to a bunch of screenings since I promoted the film all over the country. When I watched the film, the first thing I thought was that this was a good film. We did a pretty good job. It was interesting on the set because Manny is a first-time director so I was not being given a lot of input. When we did a complicated scene, Manny would say, “OK, we are moving on.” Then, I would respond, “Oh wait, did we get what we were supposed to get there? Was that good?” He would just tell me that we are moving on. Also, I didn’t get a lot of feedback when the movie was over, so I had no idea how it was going to end up!
I found it to be hard to watch these people spiraling out and making decisions that I have seen friends make before in life. I felt the pain of the characters that made me walk away. In the end, I felt that you can survive bad decisions and negativity. But God, wouldn’t it be better if I wouldn’t have made those decisions in the first place?
Are there any similarities that you saw between the movies Trafficked and Butterfly Caught?
Yes. I remember when I first came to Hollywood, I was deciding what I should do. People would ask me, “What do you want to do? What movies do you want to make?” I told them that I want to make products and movies that moved, touched, and inspired people. What’s interesting is these last five to six years have been transformative in my career and have been a trajectory. People would say to me, “I didn’t even know you were involved in the Me Too movement” or, “I didn’t know you cared about human trafficking.” I think often times the script finds you and the story finds you. The similarities of both films are that they are right in the will house of what’s happening in the world like human trafficking and the Me Too movement. I happen to make movies in the two hottest social awareness movements in the world which are totally coincidental and not something I planned. Those are two awareness movies that are both in alignment with trying to make the world a better place to live.
At this stage in your acting career, who was the person that helped get you to where you are now?
My mentor, Will Wallace, who is a well-known filmmaker. I think he will be one of the big filmmakers of our day. He has been my acting coach as well as my mentor. He pushed me for all of these projects. He directed Trafficked and helped produce it. He was also one of the producers of Butterfly Caught and has definitely been a huge advocate and proponent of mine. We now have a film fund together. So I feel like I earned his respect and he has been transformative in my career and in my life.
What was the best advice you’ve received about acting and who was it from?
I had the good fortune of studying with some amazing people in this town. I have studied with a lot of the big names and they all have given fantastic advice. But I remember one thing that really struck me. As an actor, you can get a little grandiose about your profession. Not to mention there is a tendency to put it on a pedestal, make it larger than life, and bigger than it is. I will never forget what Bob Morris told me, who is my acting coach. He said, “Listen, you are a plumber. Go in, plumb, and get out of the room.” He told me that you are there for a job. When a plumber walks into a room to fix your sink, he opens the bottom door, fixes the sink, and he leaves. There is no fanfare. I remember thinking, “This is just a job.” I do my homework, know what I am doing, get in the room, and don’t make a big fanfare about it. So I found Bob’s advice to really carry me through a lot of situations where you kind of make it larger than life and can trip you up.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on or will be working on?
Yes. Butterfly Caught comes out in September in movie theaters. But I am actually in preparation for my next film called The Last Mile. It’s an action film with a message. It seems like I am always in movies with messages which are good. We start filming in September. We are still aligning all of the cast members. I will be one of the lead actors in the film. I also am evaluating some other films to see whether I will join the cast and the filming would begin this year as well.
What are some things you’re involved with outside of acting?
At this point in my life, with the most recent success I have had in my life, I realized how valuable my time is. I always had more time and less money as a struggling actor. But now, I have got more money and less time. I see people that do volunteer work and take on a lot of causes. I actually want to have my own foundation. I would love to do a lot more charity work. I feel like if everybody took care of their local community and we started this trend, then nobody would have to go anywhere to take care of anybody. We would start this domino effect. So I always try and help out people who I know and who are in my community.
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Adam Ambruso Talks About His Role In ‘Butterfly Caught’ and More. Image Credits: Philippe McClelland