In Late Phases, versatile actor Nick Damici (Stake Land, Cold in July) portrays a blind Vietnam vet who has recently moved into a senior living community that’s harboring a deadly secret- werewolves- and he must find a way to put an end to the beastly killings before it’s too late for everyone.

Daily Dead recently chatted with Damici about his experiences collaborating on Late Phases with director Bogliano and his co-stars as well as what initially drew him to the project and the challenges of playing a visually-impaired character. Damici also discussed his next project which has him re-teaming with Jim Mickle for a new television series on the Sundance Channel.

Written by Eric Stolze (Under the Bed) and helmed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Here Comes the Devil), Late Phases also stars Ethan Embry (Cheap Thrills), Tom Noonan (The House of the Devil, Manhunter), Erin Cummings (The Iceman), Lance Guest (Halloween II) and Larry Fessenden (legendary indie producer and actor). The film arrives in limited theaters this weekend courtesy of Dark Sky Films and is currently available on VOD.

Thanks so much for speaking with me today; you’ve always made such great choices when it comes to roles and Late Phases was another fantastic character for you. Was it the fact that Ambrose was so different than anything else we’ve seen you do that initially appealed to you when you were considering taking on the project?

Nick Damici: It was, but there was more to it than that.  When I first read the script, I thought it was a really interesting throwback piece and the idea of taking on a role where I’d be playing a 70-year-old man was a great opportunity. I also loved how this character was a throwback to all those John Wayne characters from the past and that’s due to the script’s writer, Eric, who did a wonderful job of making Ambrose so interesting. I really enjoyed that he was this gruff, grumpy guy who was also a straight-shooter and this role was a true joy and a real opportunity for me to do something very different.

Another thing I appreciated about this script was that it was always about the characters; the horror and the werewolves were secondary and that’s something that stood out to me as well when I read it.

Well, one of the biggest differences between Ambrose and your other roles is that he’s blind, which I’m sure came with some challenges for you as a performer. Did you have to change your approach while playing Ambrose at all then?

Nick Damici: It was a very interesting process for me as there was nothing typical about playing someone who’s blind at all. I did the typical thing that most actors do when they take on a role where they’re blind- I decided to blindfold myself and see what that experience would be like. Of course, after I lit the end of my nose instead of my cigarette and a few other mishaps, I thought, “Okay, that’s the end of this” (laughs). I realized my job as an actor wasn’t to actually be blind, but to appear blind, so I went on YouTube and did a ton of research.

In reality, there are two types of visually-impaired people; there are people who were born blind so they have no control over their eye muscles whatsoever and there are people who have gone blind after having the ability to see, which is very different.  I had rely on my peripheral vision more, keeping my eyes straight-ahead which forced me to challenge my eyes in different ways. Adrian and everyone else had to be really aware of what my eyes were doing to, because if I blinked or anything, we’d have to start a scene over.

Adrian is one of my favorite indie directors to come along in a long time so I was thrilled to hear that he came on to direct Late Phases when it was first announced. How was it collaborating with him- did you guys dig into the character of Ambrose together or was a lot of that already there in the script?

Nick Damici: Working with Adrian was an interesting process but he’s a really great guy and fantastic filmmaker. Late Phases is his first English-language movie and even though there was a little bit of a language barrier, I think he did a great job on this film. What’s interesting is that I was actually hired onto this before he was so he was kind of stuck with me whether he wanted me or not (laughs).

But I remember we met over dinner where it was the two of us and Larry (Fessenden) and the first thing he said was, “How on earth are you going to play 70?” But I knew it would work because of Brian Spears, an FX guy who is normally known for doing blood and gore but was responsible for my aging make-up on this. He did an amazing job.

You had the opportunity to work alongside some really talented co-stars on Late Phases including Tom (Noonan) and Ethan (Embry). How was it working with those guys?

Nick Damici: Tom’s a guy I’ve sort of known for the last 10 years but it’s been mostly in passing since we don’t live that far from each other. It was funny to finally ‘officially’ meet him on this and he’s the antithesis of the crazy guy you might imagine he would be based on his previous roles. He’s such an interesting guy though and it was wonderful to be able to work with a talent as great as his.

Now with Ethan, I had never met him before but I was a big fan of his work- even the stuff he had done when he was just a kid. It’s really cool to see how he disappeared for a while and came back into acting totally transformed. We were able to spend a lot of time together between shooting and I really enjoyed getting to know him; I think that shows in our performances. You can tell there’s a real affection there, even if Ambrose is this gruff old guy who doesn’t really show his emotions much.

I know that you regularly work with Jim Mickle and I was curious if you guys have anything new coming up that you can talk about?

Nick Damici: We’ve had a really busy year with Cold in July getting such a great reception and we’re keeping busy now with this new project for the Sundance Channel based on a Joe Lansdale story called Hap and Leonard. He’s such a great writer and this was a story that Jim and I thought would be cool to adapt. And working in television is such a different experience for us but I think we are really enjoying the challenge because it takes us out of our comfort zones a bit and there’s somewhat of a learning curve too.

That’s awesome to hear- I really enjoy Joe’s work. Any chance you’ll get in front of the camera for Hap and Leonard at all?

Nick Damici: I’m not planning on it right now, but that’s for right now (laughs).

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.