Nuala Quinn-Barton talks with multi-talented Actor/Director/Writer Rich Rotella about his successful Film “Marlo Lasker” and his Hollywood journey and aspirations.

Marlo Lasker is a quirky – over the top – comedy with an Ernest meets Steve Urkel vibe. Marlo is a nerd with a heart of gold and on a quest to win the girl of his dreams, Susie. However, he’ll have to grow as a person, overcome obstacles and bizarre comedic situations in order to defeat the school jock, Caleb and emerge victorious. It is currently streaming world wide (68 territories) on Amazon Prime. You can also search for the title on If you’re looking to laugh out loud to escape the madness of 2020 / 2021… you just found gold!

How did the concept and story for Marlo Lasker come about?

In 2010 I was doing a lot of sketch comedy and creating original characters. I had recently befriended a big youtuber and so, I put 10 of my characters on camera with him as my co-star. Everyone who saw the 10 sketches seemed to really like my NERD CHARACTER “Marlo Lasker”.

In terms of getting into and creating unique characters, I can flick certain ‘switches’ in my brain to alter my voice, body, POV and motivation. At that point my subconscious drives the boat ‘sorta-speak’. Why am I mentioning this? Because I knew that since I had such an incredible grip playing this original nerd character, I wondered if this was in fact finally a chance to show people I could play a LEAD and carry a TV Show or Movie. Then, in 2016 I had had enough.

I sat down in my courtyard and for over 5 hours I read scripts. Marlo Lasker was funny, original and I knew in my gut that I could get this movie made. I beefed up the script and quickly it went from 24 pages to over 60… suddenly, I had a potential feature on my hands. I kept writing and then pursued private investors. I cut equity deals with all of them and matched their money. Pre-production began and by June 2016… we rolled camera.

Rich you obviously loved making Marlo Lasker and it’s amazing that you wrote, produced, directed and starred in it as the lead character!
Is comedy your favorite genre? I’ve seen some very strong dramatic performances from you too! Tell us about both…

Comedy is simply something that has always come extremely naturally to me; regardless if there’s a camera rolling or not. My brain just instantly connects the “funny” in almost any situation. I can’t explain it. It’s a God given ability. I am grateful for the incredible gift of laughter. It truly is healing among humanity on a global scale. I’d like to leave this Earth knowing that I helped make people forget about their personal challenges and just laugh. That seems like a noble well lived life to me.

Drama is something that people have been screaming at me to do more of for many years. I am now quickly diving into that side of my craft. The 2020 Covid19 pandemic caused me to take a step back and decide what ‘type of actor’ I am going to be. In truth? This has always bothered me because acting is acting; regardless if it’s comedy or drama. The goal is the same, create truth – in a comedic or dramatic sense – and then be present in the situation while fulfilling the obligations of the material.

Beyond the obvious ‘memorizing your lines’, there are secrets to becoming very relaxed and allowing your subconscious to completely take over, so that you’re truly listening and reacting on a moment to moment basis with no pre planned “acting” type responses, dialogue or gestures. But I have to keep some secrets to myself. A magician never reveals his tricks.

Give us a little bit of background about yourself…
Where are you from and how did you get into acting?

I was born in Florida and raised in Maryland. An agent approached me when I was in the 4th grade, performing in the school talent show. I played “Costello” in the classic comedic sketch entitled “Who’s on First?” The acting bug had officially bit me and I was hooked. I continued to perform in school plays and eventually bought a Sony-Hi8 Video Camera and started making home movies. Developing skills as a director, I decided to make Film my major and attended Towson University in Baltimore, MD; graduating with honors in 2006 from the Electronic Media & Film program.

It only took me three tough years, trying to build an acting career in Baltimore & Washington, DC, to realize that if I was really going to go for my dream of becoming a “Name Actor” I was going to have to move to New York or Los Angeles. I like warm weather and the beach so, Sept 2009 I drove across the country; shedding a tear everyday in the car because I didn’t want to let anyone down… my friends, family and especially my Mom, Elaine. She has always believed in me. My biggest fan!

In November 2020 you were the WINNER of the “Popular Vote” in the National Alpha Epsilon Pi, Founders Day Talent Show. Congratulations! What was that experience like?

I joined Alpha Epsilon Pi (National Jewish Fraternity) back in 2004 in college and even served on the Executive Board as the Member at Large (MAL). AEPi is a fantastic organization with some of the most hilarious, intelligent and warm hearted men I have ever known. I am still friends with many of my ‘Brothers’ to this day.

Winning the ‘Popular Vote’ in the Talent Show (via Zoom) was an enjoyable rollercoaster of emotions and a privilege to have to made the FINAL FOUR; and then to be seen by Ari Greenburg (President of WME), Richard Gabai (Emmy Winning Producer) and others… was simply awesome.

What is your dream role?

I study leading men not only by the movies they make, but also the roles they choose to play or chose in the past. I personally love movies with originality, heart and guts… films like Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Austin Powers, Top Gun, Color of Money, Goodfellas, Tropic Thunder, The Wolf of Wallstreet, Drive, Blow, Ace Ventura, Justice For All, The Godfather Trilogy, Training Day, Jaws, Days of Thunder, Rocky, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood and countless others…

My dream role is to play a dynamic leading man with a full personal arc; as I like to fully embody my characters thus showcasing the ‘human condition’ and the constant struggle to choose good over evil in the most dire of circumstances. The battle in a man’s heart, the love he has for his brothers & sisters, while battling his own personal demons, is simply electrifying to me as an artist. Life is about people & choices. When I get to play a character who is in the middle of a storm, the harshest of conflicts, who’s back is against the wall and he must do something drastic to survive, win or save someone else – THAT TO ME – is something I cannot easily walk away from. I have to play that role.

The hero’s journey starts at point A, which you expect to wind up at point B, but ends up at point G… and it still ‘works’ for the story, those are the roles that now make me say YES.
It all starts with the script. If the script is bad – run. If it’s gold – fight for it and for the love of God – do NOT change it. Protect it ‘as is’.

Tell us about your upcoming projects for 2021 and beyond…

I filmed a TV Pilot entitled BARTON vs BARTON in Feb 2020; just before covid19 rocked the world. It is currently in post production. It’s a wacky – politically incorrect – legal comedy with great potential. I also starred in a coming of age dramedy TV Pilot called Figuring It Out that has unique potential as well.

I’m currently attached to The Last Immortal, The War Necklace, The Stillness of Dark, The Naughty Boys and Endless Passion, those feature films are set to roll camera in 2021. Constantly being open to all forms of art, I’m excited to be attached to my first Fantasy / Thriller entitled DragonMan:The Adventures of Luke Starr, slated for production in 2021.

Lastly, I’ve written my own Suspense / Thriller, entitled Dire Straits, which I plan on rolling camera next year as well.

I am now refocusing my efforts on features, growing in episodic network television and the occasionally online digital series if the script and my character are incredibly solid. With now over a decade under my belt in Hollywood, I am increasingly more selective with regard to the projects I choose. My goal is to steer my career, as a professional actor, in a direction that creates long term success for many years to come.

Lucille Ball has a quote that still rings true to-date, “Luck to me is : Hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”

To follow Rich Rotella
IG @richrotellaofficial

Mania Entertainment January15th 2021