We spoke with actor Matt Delamater who plays Joey D in the film The Tender Bar coming to Prime Video on December 17. Directed by George Clooney, the cast also comprises of Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Daniel Ranieri, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini, Rhenzy Feliz and Briana Middleton. We asked Matt about how he got into acting, his time filming The Tender Bar and what people can expect from it. Check out what Matt Delamater said below!
When did you decide that storytelling and acting was something you wanted to do?
Matt Delamater (MD): I’ve always loved books. I loved how a story could just capture your attention fully and truly pull you into a world, and in school English and writing were always my favorite subjects but acting and performance came later for me. I was an athlete in school and I was always intimidated by the courage that it took to be an actor – to stand up on a stage and be so vulnerable. But in the back of my mind it was always something that intrigued me and I loved storytelling so much that being a part of that process seemed exhilarating. I ended up going to school for business and English but after college chose to become a banker (of all things!). But I always missed that part of my life – the art and connection of telling stories that isn’t always so present in the corporate world.
And so one day I called my former mentor and high school English teacher, Sally Jones, now a dear friend, and asked her about what was going on in the theater world of my small hometown in Maine. Turns out there was an audition for The Music Man and she said I should come. I did, I ended up with one of the smaller parts in the show, and I fell in love. It was like a merger of my athlete days and my love of writing and reading all in one – a group of people passionately coming together to tell a story to create a real response from people in the room. I loved every minute of it and ever since have been auditioning and doing all I can to get to do it whenever possible.
What advice would you give to people pursuing acting?
MD: That success is tricky and not always what you think. I think the pursuit of any artistic career is always so personal – what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Looking back, I would have loved to go to acting school or have the chance to tour with a show or just focus on the work nonstop – that sounds incredible to me. But those weren’t the cards for me at the time and I saw success as a way to be able to do the work however I could – community theater, regional theater, auditioning for as many things as I could get my hands on and doing the work in the way I could find it. I would say to anyone pursuing acting (and say to myself often) – don’t let others define “success” for you. Worry about the things you can control in your effort toward the work – the study, the effort itself, making the time – and don’t let fear of failure get in your way.
What was your first acting role?
MD: My first role was in an amazing community theater production (Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association) in South Paris Maine of The Music Man – playing one of the salesmen on the train and singing in the chorus. It showed me first hand the hard work and passion it takes to put on a production and also a taste of how it can feel when you get it right because the cast was so great. I was stumbling in the dark and probably stuck out like a sore thumb, but seeing people work so hard night after night to tell a story and make people laugh and smile – it was remarkable to see. There’s a lot of wonderful talent in the small towns and rural parts of this world and I remember those shows and those people so fondly. I loved that first experience.
What do you enjoy the most about acting?
MD: I love finding a way to connect with an audience in a way that truly transports them to another place, another state of feeling. One of the best things about acting is when you see a performance that truly moves you and you leave just wanting to talk about it and the story more and more. I love that. Making people truly feel something with honest, real characters and words. Striving for this result in the end and serving the story you are a part of is what makes the work so rewarding for me.
What was it like working on The Tender Bar with such an amazing and well rounded cast and crew?
MD: Simply – it was a dream. Truly a dream. To get to see that call sheet with those names and incredible people and realize you get to do this work with them was honestly one of the most exciting experiences I have had as an actor. I’ve watched George and Ben’s work for much of my life and loved their work for so long, and to show up to set each day and get to learn from them and collaborate with them on an incredible story like this was incredible. Scenes with Daniel and Tye and Rhenzy were amazing as well, and to joke around every day with Michael Braun and Max Casella as part of the bar world was truly some of the most fun I’ve had on a film set. I would call my wife at the end of the day often and recount the day on set in amazement – just trying to soak up the experience. To get to play a wonderful character with a truly talented team and director is what we are always hoping for in this world and I truly just tried every day to contribute in the best way I could, listen, learn, and do whatever I could to contribute and serve this beautiful story.
What can people expect from the film?
MD: This is such a wonderful story inspired by JR Moeringer’s beautiful memoir and adapted so well by William Monohan and I hope that it takes people on a genuine, heartfelt journey with an amazing young man and his family. It’s funny, and sweet and moving and shot so beautifully I think people are going to just dive into this world wholeheartedly. This family, and the extended bar family of The Dickens, wins you over immediately, and expect to see some truly incredible performances by the core family – Ben, Lily, Christopher, Daniel and Tye – because their work in this story and with these characters is truly remarkable.
When people watch The Tender Bar, what are you hoping they get out of it?
MD: I hope people walk away realizing that the power of family is a remarkable thing. And that “family” can come in many forms. I hope they truly fall in love with these characters and that they walk away feeling a little more like their dreams are closer than they might think.
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