Hollywood actor comes home to Conn. and starts a new career phase
Maybe it was boredom that began Mark Famiglietti’s writing career. Maybe it was the propulsive power of solitude.
It was Los Angeles, the late 1990s, and Famiglietti, then a fresh-faced, aspiring actor, had begun landing his first big-time gigs.
First, it was a season of the NBC teen drama, “Hang Time,” then guest appearances on the WB comedy “Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane,” and eventually a role in the short-lived “Dawson’s Creek” spin-off, “Young Americans.”
It was a strong entry into Hollywood, especially for someone like Famiglietti, who had only begun acting a few years earlier. But Famiglietti, who moved to Fairfield in 2018 after 20 years in California, was spending much of his time out West alone.
“I didn’t know anybody. I couldn’t go out because I was under 21. So while I was sitting in my apartment in Studio City, I decided I needed to start writing things,” Famiglietti says.
It was a fateful decision for Famiglietti, now 39, and indicative of the kind of career he would soon carve out for himself, often writing his own roles and creating his own films. He describes his latest, “The Divorce Party,” — available in select theaters and to stream Feb. 14 on all major platforms — which he co-wrote and in which he acts, as a “labor of love.”
Famiglietti was born in Rhode Island, but grew up in Clinton, Conn. His career turned a corner soon after it started, in high school, when two local professional actors, Max Showalter and Peter Walker, saw the 16-year-old Famiglietti in a high school production.
The pair were impressed, and Showalter agreed to pay for Famiglietti’s first acting lesson.
“I started thinking maybe this could be a career,” Famiglietti says, though who knew in order to make it happen, he’d need to relocate either to New York or Los Angeles. After graduating high school — and after one too many treks from Southeastern Connecticut to New York City for auditions — Famiglietti briefly enrolled at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and studied for a semester at the Atlantic Theater Company. But Famiglietti was auditioning well and gaining momentum, so he rode it to Los Angeles after booking “Hang Time.”
“It was great on-the-job training,” Famiglietti says. “It allowed me to be out there and start making other contacts.”
His early roles led him to increasingly more work in television and film. He was featured in 2003’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Claire Danes. He also was appeared in episodes of shows like “Mad Men,” “Grimm,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” and “Castle.”
He was a successful working actor, and he was able to sell several of his first screenplays, beginning in the early 2000s. But the stories Famiglietti wrote weren’t being made.
Roughly five years ago, he and Lane Garrison, his writing partner on “The Divorce Party,” decided to go the independent route, secure their own funding and will their movie into existence.
“While we had had some success selling screenplays in the studio system, we recognized they were sitting there and not getting made,” Famiglietti says. “We decided we would raise money. We felt like studios weren’t making romantic comedies anymore, unless there were lots of stars involved. But through pounding the pavement, we found two investors willing to finance.”
The film, shot in 2016, follows a recent divorcee in his late 20s planning a large-scale “divorce party,” to help him adjust to his new phase of life.
Both writers are children of divorce, and Famiglietti saysd making the movie allowed him to explore the subtleties of a relationship that has reached its end in a way that is not only negative.
“The movie is more about finding who you are and moving forward in your life, rather than being against the person you were married to,” Famiglietti says.
Famiglietti, who is married and has a daughter, is also looking to push forward in his film career, despite his move away from Los Angeles. Twenty years after breaking into the industry, he maintains a chaotic schedule.
Last year, Famiglietti shot four Lifetime movies, starred in another yet to be released film, “Soulmate(s),” and is in the process of producing and co-writing, with Garrison, a biopic about underdog Super Bowl champion Gary Brackett.
Now back at home, Famiglietti’s hopes to create opportunities in film for himself in Connecticut.
“After being in L.A. so long,’ Famiglietti says, “being back gets my wheels turning about the sorts of stories I could tell here.”
Justin Papp is a staff writer. firstname.lastname@example.org; @justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586