SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: My name is Michael J. Panichelli, Jr. I am happily married to my amazing best friend, and beautiful wife,Lori. We have five children, and nine grandchildren. I am a retired Senior State Correctional Officer, as well as an Actor.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: As I accompanied my daughter to a model search, I was approached by the director. He said I had an interesting and unique look and would be good for films. He gave me the number of a casting director, and before I knew it, I was cast in my first film. That was ‘Unbreakable’. Sadly, I was cut out. But, I knew then, this is what I was supposed to do.
SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: I had the great opportunity to work with Pablo Maysonet earlier in my career. When it came to ‘The Things They Left Behind’, Pablo called me and asked if I wanted a part in his film. It was Pablo, so I said absolutely.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: The realness of the story. It hits home for a great deal of people. That survivor’s guilt that is felt becomes haunting. Those object are a reminder of how these people were here one minute, then just gone.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: Pablo told me that I was the only one he wanted in this role. He was familiar with my work. As I stated before, we worked together in the past.
SKSM: You worked with Pablo Maysonet on this film, how was that?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: Pablo is a very talented artist. He knows exactly what he wants from his actors, crew, and controls his complete surroundings in a professional, but comfortable manner. His sets are very friendly and pleasant.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: The subject matter was very serious. It had to do with the very horrific and very real time in our history that everyone was still very raw from.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: As it is with most films, you move on. You get busy and they get busy. I try to keep an eye out to see who’s up to what, when I can. I wish everyone the best. I as always, thank Pablo for the experience.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: The last film I did was ‘The Family’ with Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones. I played Billy The Bug. It was a great opportunity to work with these amazing actors and the absolutely phenomenal Director, Luc Besson. I am currently working on the development of a web series, as well as a new film.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: Yes of course! I don’t know many people that aren’t. I think he is an Alfred Hitchcock intensified times ten. He’s an amazing talent.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: I am a big teddy bear. I might not look like it, but it’s true. My wife says I have a heart of gold, with a badass exterior, and a crazy sense of humor.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: I would like to thank them for taking the time to get to know me a little bit. I love what I do and hope to be fortunate enough to be able to continue my film career. I appreciate any and all support.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Michael J. Panichelli, Jr: Thank you for contacting me. It was a pleasure.