His family’s dinner table was his first experience with improvisational theater, says Tommy Beardmore, a Lafayette, Ind. native who now occasionally performs at Second City in Chicago, Ill. Chicago is the city he now calls home, as well as the place where he is making a name for himself as an actor striving for a career in film.
“It was like improv class every day. We were always going off on riffs with each other and ‘finding the funny,’” says Beardmore, who is the second oldest in a family of nine. It was the oldest sibling, Caitie, who encouraged him to study acting at Lafayette Civic Theatre when he was a freshman at the city’s Central Catholic High School.
It was from that time on that Beardmore knew he wanted to become an actor and be in movies, but his love for the art form itself began, he says, in seventh grade when he and his friends shot movies. “Those movies sparked an interest in me. I was dating this girl and her father was kind of a hard-ass, and he said, ‘That Tommy Beardmore — if he spent as much time on his studies as he does making those movies, he would be a straight-A student,’” says Beardmore, who would eventually earn his Bachelor of Arts in Film/Video Studies, Theatre, Dance/Movement in 2008 at Purdue.
After college, while attempting to figure out his next move, Beardmore bartended in Lafayette. After seeing an ad for a production assistant for the feature film “Amanda,” he applied for the position and got it, and even though it was not paid, he took it. He said he worked hard and was promoted, but decided that it was acting that he really wanted to do. So, that was the beginning of his journey towards a professional career as a film actor.
Eventually, he began to take classes at the Second City Conservatory in Chicago and commuted back and forth for months up until the time he was cast in a show called “Information Underload,” which was on the Second City’s Donny’s Skybox. It was there that he met fellow actors with whom he still improvs with in shows for the Number 10 and Fine Print Theatre Company. Beardmore also studied at Chicago’s prestigious iO Theater Improv Training Center.
Since arriving in Chicago, Beardmore says he has been able to make his living as an actor, taking an occasional day job just to make ends meet. It helps, however, that he was able to sign with Marissa Paonessa, one of Chicago’s finest talent agents, and secure work in such films as “Healed By Grace,” “Wild Blue,” “Luzia,” “The Witching Hour: The Beginning” and “Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption.”
In Indianapolis, Beardmore is represented by Helen Wells Agency.
Set for release in December is “Scrooge & Marley,” Beardmore’s latest film. Narrated by Tony Award-winner Judith Light, it’s a film with a twist on Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” Billed as a film which is “recounted from a gay sensibility, with heart, comedy and music,” Beardmore says it will appeal to everyone. For an actor who is straight, playing a gay character is not an issue for Beardmore, who says, “It’s about being challenged as an actor. I won’t back down nor am I fearful about anything.”
“Scrooge & Marley” is based on an original script by Ellen Stoneking, Richard Knight Jr. and the late Tim Imse. It was directed by Knight and Peter Neville. Executive producers of the film are Tracy Baim and David Strzepek.
The cast includes some of that city’s best-known actors, who are either from or currently live in Chicago. They include David Pevsner who portrays Ben Scrooge and former “SNL” star Tim Kazurinsky who appears as the Ghost of Jacob Marley. The film also stars Rusty Schwimmer, Bruce Vilanch, Megan Cavanagh, Ronnie Kroell, David Moretti, Richard Ganoung, and performance artist JoJo Baby.
“Scrooge & Marley” was shot in Chicago in May and showcases other Chicago theatrical actors who round out the cast: Drew Anderson, Christopher Allen, Nicholas Bailey, Allison Torem, Fawzia Mirza, Peter Mohawk, Scott Duff, PJ Powers, Amy Matheny and many more.
Beardmore has also been able to score some television opportunities, such as a role in the short-lived NBC series “The Playboy Club.” He has also appeared most recently in commercials for Macy’s, Blackberry and Meijer, and will soon be appearing in Kanye West’s music video for the song “Way Too Cold.”
“I believe in embracing your environment. Right now, I am an unknown, but I’m going to use my resources here to get as far as I can and have as much training and learn from as many people as I can. I enjoy being in the Midwest because there is great acting and great training here,” says Beardmore regarding his choice of Chicago to pursue his career.
“Here I am in one of the greatest cities in the world and I get to be taught by and perform with some of the greatest artists in the world. It’s amazing. One day you’re broke and the next day you have a movie role. You can be at the very bottom and the next day have a booking that will change the rest of your life. It’s an interesting job. It’s not always perfect but life isn’t perfect, you know?”
As far as any downside to pursuing his chosen field, Beardmore says, “I just go to positive. At improv that is what they teach you. You go out with any negativity and this ‘Negative Nancy’ attitude — nobody wants to see that. They want to see people who are eager, enthusiastic and into what they are doing. You almost have to trick yourself into thinking, ‘This is great and I love it.’”
Beardmore also says that along with maintaining a positive attitude, it’s important for an actor to have chutzpah. “You need that in this industry to gain attention because there are 3,000 other people who are trying to do the same thing in this city. What is the worst that can happen? And, what is more important: Me being embarrassed or going after an opportunity that could blossom into something great? I believe the fantastic opportunities I’ve had are a result of ‘opportunities meets readiness.’ These chances I am getting and this small success I have had has literally been a result of that approach.”
When asked where he wants to be in five years, Beardmore says, “I think I’ll be in California. Now let’s face it, I want to be a film actor more than anything in the world. To do this work I’ll eventually have to go to the coast because principal casting is based on the coast. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. I think my film career will steadily move forward. I believe that I am one of the hardest working people out there. I think there is nothing wrong with that because if you really believe you are putting in all the effort you can and taking advantage of every opportunity, there is no reason why you can’t say that. I am very proud to say that because I’ve seen the hard work pay off. I have no hesitation. I am fearless, and I am 100-percent committed.”
When asked, “Do you believe in luck?” Beardmore responds, “Of course I do — I am Irish.” But, not one to rely only on chance alone, he also says that it is his faith that sustains him. “It goes back to what my teachers in college said: ‘It will come. Don’t worry about the things that are coming. Instead, worry about the things that are.’ And they have. Whether it is faith in God or the universe — or just faith in yourself — if you do things with conviction and you commit to it, it will come.”
For more information about Tommy Beardmore, visit www.tommybeardmore.com.
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