I was lucky enough to be invited to the set of Sollers Point, a movie being filmed in Baltimore, to interview lead actor McCaul Lombardi. There’s something beautifully poetic about a Baltimore-based movie directed by and starring Baltimore natives being filmed here.
Sollers Point, Matthew Porterfield’s fourth film in Baltimore, is the story of a small-time drug dealer who is released on house arrest in his father’s home. The movie centers around the relationship between Keith ( Lombardi) and his dad, played by Jim Belushi, segregation, unemployment and trying to readjust to life. It will cause you to look at the social issues surrounding the life of this “dealer”.
Sitting in an air conditioned gym I went over my notes as I anxiously waited for the Lombardi to enter.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had been told that “Keith”, McCaul Lombardi, would be with me as soon as he got out of the water. ‘The water’ I thought to myself as I pictured the murky water surrounding the wooded area or Dundalk they were filming in. I cringed at just the thought but before I could let My mind wander too far into what was in that water McCaul walked in the gym. My first impression of him was “wow”. I’m not sure I was prepared Lombardi’s ruggedly handsome looks, boyish smile and piercing blue eyes.
McCaul was smaller than I expected but his personality filled a room. He walked in wet and shaking the water out of his ear. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants he asked if I’d like to go to a quieter room to talk. He and I, along with his entourage ( his mom) went to a smaller room nearby. McCaul was far from shy, in fact, he was exuberant and full of fire and dreams as we talked. His eyes constantly lit up like a 5 year old’s on Christmas morning as he talked about how surreal his life feels sometimes, living his dreams and his yearning to give back to the community by speaking to kids at local schools.
The 25-year-old Baltimore native is a relatively unknown actor but by this time next year, everyone will know his name. He just wrapped up Sollers Point, recently returned from Europe promoting American Honey and has 3 other movies in post-production and set for release. Coming from a fiercely competitive athletic family, Lombardi loves sports and hoped to play professionally one day. Life had other things in store for him, though. At the age of 18, McCaul packed up his belongings, hopped in his car and drove out to California to look for work as an actor. He almost gave up and returned home, only getting a call during his drive east offering him his first movie role turned him around. He hasn’t looked back since.
TUT: You’re relatively unknown right now but that won’t last for long. How do you handle the new found attention that’s come along with your success?
McCaul: By enjoying it, by enjoying every moment knowing that at the end of the day anyone can take anyone’s life and you’re really nothing. Your world is a speck in time.
TUT: Coming from Baltimore do you think you feel that more significantly, that you have to get it now because it can end at any time?
McCaul: I think coming from Baltimore pushes me because I saw how people reacted when I said I wanted to be an actor. All the haters, you do it for them. I’m a hard head, I’m never going to let anyone tell me no for anything. If they do I’m going to work my face off and get it. That’s how I look at everything, especially with all the struggles I went through in California.
TUT: Speaking of your struggles in California, I hear you were homeless sleeping in your car before you got your big break.
McCaul: See that’s the thing, I wasn’t and I knew it. I had everything on the east coast, just not on the west coast where I was trying to make it. What gets you through that is knowing you have a family that is still there for you. Homeless is when you have no home and no one who will take you in no matter what. I wasn’t homeless, I was living out of my car but I could have easily gotten in my car and went back home to my family, nice home, and friends.
TUT: You recently went to the Eiffel Tower and posted on Instagram that you were crossing things off your bucket list. What was it like to go to Paris?
McCaul: I’ve been to Europe twice now, once to promote American Honey in Cannes and recently because Yves St. Laurent took interest in me and flew me out with Zoe Kravitz for the Vogue Paris shoot. Super, not me, I’ve never even smelled first class before. It was surreal. I was in the seat like ‘me, how the hell me’ I say that but there’s a lot of reason why it’s me. I worked my ass off and sacrificed everything I had. Even when I had nothing. I’m a big believer that if you prep for your opportunity then once it’s presented to you it’s yours. You can’t deny hard work and talent Too many people are waiting around for something to come to them. If you’re not prepared for a situation you’ll say it never came because you weren’t ready for it.
TUT: What’s it like to be back in your hometown of Baltimore filming a movie.?
McCaul: Surreal, just saying that you gave me goosebumps. I mean another thing on my bucket list.Never in my life did I think I’d be filming movies in my neighborhoods and have a 60 person production wrapped around me. You couldn’t ask for anything better, especially my first feature where I’m in every scene but two. It’s not even real [ his eyes actually started to water] It means the world and I’m happy that I can do this and bring it back to Baltimore. This city made me exactly who I am and it’s cool to feel like I can put Baltimore on my shoulders and rep for it. We don’t have an actor that rides and dies for Baltimore and I want to put Baltimore on my back. This is where my heart and soul is. Baltimore’s and interesting city to make it in, R.I.P. To Lor Scoota, because this is a crab in the barrel city. Everyone’s fighting for a spot.
The young actor also took the time to discourage living through social media, being intent on posting for the show instead of living life to the fullest. “Everyone wants to show to other people that they’re doing something.
McCaul also had something to say about hanging on to other who are in the spotlight. “Hanging out with people who are ‘on’ doesn’t do anything for you but make you a storyteller,” he says smartly. “People worry about that, especially in LA. I even fell victim to it at one point. But what if they don’t like you anymore? Then you’re back at square one, negative square one really.”
What would you tell a teen from Baltimore who feels like they’ll never make it out. ?
Cut that crap, it’s not true. The hardest part of wanting to get out of Baltimore is having that passion at 16 or 17 and not being able to because you’re so young. Find something you love and work at it, get good and when you’re old enough, get out there and do it because time won’t wait for you.If you’re willing to accept that you might not make it, do it, you have to want it more than you’re afraid. Sleeping in my car I kept telling myself ‘you got this’, ‘you’re going to make it’.
A chance meeting with Adam Sandler may have changed Lombardi’s life. He lit up as he recounted the advice Sandler gave him, “The struggle that you’re going through right now, enjoy it. Because it ain’t gonna be like this forever.” The seasoned actor told him. McCaul says of the meeting, “It was like a Godsend, it was like he knew what I was going through even though I hadn’t told him. That was a big moment in my life that kept me out in LA, I was close to coming home before then.
I’m glad he didn’t give up and once you see his work on a film you’ll be glad he didn’t give up too. I can’t wait until American Honey hit’s movie theaters. Now that Sollers Point has wrapped we have to sit and wait patiently until it’s 2017 release.
Editors note: while talking McCaul’s love of music was evident. He referenced J.Cole and Tupac. We spoke on today’s music, he loves J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, real music but also bumps a little trap. His music taste ranges from country to pop to hip hop
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This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Check back tomorrow for my interview with director, Matthew Porterfield.