NYFA Acting Grad Plays Boston Marathon Bomber in “Patriots Day”

themo m

photo by Jeff Berlin

Perhaps the most hyped film to open this weekend is Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The film is based on accounts from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing search for the Tsarnaev brothers. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to recognize Acting for Film alumnus Themo Melikidze, who plays the role of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers responsible for the bombings.

In addition to Boston native Mark Wahlberg, Melikidze acts alongside former NYFA guest speakers J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan, as well as John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.

His climb to acting in a major motion picture and the upcoming FOX TV series “24: Legacy” certainly wasn’t handed to him. After graduating from NYFA, Melikidze attained his OPT status and worked for a year with an Off-Broadway show (“The LiveInTheater”) in NYC. After that, he attained the O1 Artist Visa and moved to Los Angeles to further pursue acting for film and TV.

“The first months [in LA] were probably the hardest times in my life, since I had no solid place to stay and had no car,” recalled Melikidze. “I was using my bicycle for four hours a day to get to any type of audition. I had one headshot and a few videos posted on LA Casting. One day a talent coordinator contacted me trough the website, stating that the Park Noack Agency wanted to meet with me. Later that week I sat down with the agency and, after a few auditions, I was signed for theatrical and commercial representation.”

Two weeks later his agency gave him a call to audition for “Patriots Day.” After a self-tape and multiple callbacks, he was invited for the “director’s callback” with Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

That audition completely changed his life, as two weeks after the “director’s callback,” he got the call from his agent that they wanted him for the role of Tamerlan.

“A majority of young acting students take a course, only skimming the surface of acting, but few have the patience and dedication to hang in for the long haul as Themo has,” said Melikidze’s Acting for Film Instructor at NYFA, Paul Warner. “His passion for the craft, intelligence, and meticulousness in embracing all of its complexities made it clear then, that if Themo was given professional opportunities, that he would excel.”

Melikidze’s role put him in the difficult situation of portraying a wanted terrorist, who was shot three days after the horrific bombings. While not easy to wrap his mind around the character, Melikidze stepped up to the challenge, adding, “The most challenging thing was certainly to get inside the head of this individual. Knowing his background of having a family, wife, little kid, a brother and friends, and still be able to commit such a horrible act is unthinkable. But I committed myself 100% to the character and really dove into his state of mind, by doing all the research that I could do on the web, watching horrible Jihadi videos that he used to watch, and also having to train with his boxing coach John Allen, who gave me incredible insight to his personal life and his characteristics. But, at the end of the day, what really drove me to portray this character was the absolute hate, disgust and anger that I had for this horrible individual. “

Be sure to check him out in “Patriots Day,” which is out in US theaters Friday, Jan. 13!

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Published on: January 12, 2017

Filled Under: Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights

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