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Jordan Belfi talks about starring in ‘Nefarious,’ working with Sean Patrick Flanery

Actor Jordan Belfi (“Entourage” fame) chatted about starring in the thriller “Nefarious,” and working with Sean Patrick Flanery.

Jordan Belfi in 'Nefarious '
Jordan Belfi in 'Nefarious.' Photo Courtesy of Believe Entertainment.
Jordan Belfi in 'Nefarious.' Photo Courtesy of Believe Entertainment.

Actor Jordan Belfi (“Entourage” fame) chatted about starring in the thriller “Nefarious,” and working with Sean Patrick Flanery.

‘Nefarious’

“My experience on ‘Nefarious’ was profound,” he said. “The film is what’s referred to as a two-hander, essentially a two character movie, the main thrust of which boils down to the confrontation — the verbal and intellectual chess match — between my character, Dr. James Martin, and Sean Patrick Flanery’s character Nefarious/Edward Wayne Brady.”

“For those who don’t yet know, the set-up of the film is that on the eve of a serial killer’s execution, a psychiatrist is ordered to evaluate and then certify whether he is sane to stand execution,” he added.

“During the evaluation, the killer claims he’s actually possessed by a demon, and that before the day is over, the psychiatrist will have committed three murders of his own,” Belfi said.

“The film is masterfully constructed, the dialogue written with extreme precision, and is complex, both emotionally and intellectually. So it’s the kind of role you dream about as an actor, dream about sinking your teeth into, exploring, and mining, to then have the opportunity to work intensely and intimately with another actor and director in order to bring it to life,” he said.

Belfi continued, “These kinds of roles don’t come around every day, particularly with material this rich and complex. Much of this experience, and also whether a movie like this lives or dies, depends on the chemistry and trust you have with the actor sitting on the other side of the table. It all depends on the energy and connection you have for this dance – and I’m very grateful that other actor was Sean.”

“We did not have really any rehearsal, which for a piece like this, you typically might want to dig into like a play for a few weeks, and get up on its feet. We did not have that opportunity. So it boiled down to our instincts and trust in one another. And it paid off,” he said.

“One of the singular things audiences talk about is our chemistry. On a personal note, one of the other reasons the experience of ‘Nefarious’ was so profound for me was that my son, my first born, was born on day one of shooting the film,” he elaborated.

Shooting the film in Oklahoma City

“My wife and I live in LA, and shooting for ‘Nefarious’ was in Oklahoma City,” he said. “She and I had made peace with the fact that this would almost certainly be the situation. She went into labor in LA the night before day one of shooting. I went to set in the morning, went through hair and make-up, and once I got back to my trailer and got into wardrobe, I got the text that he had just been born.”

“I Facetimed with her, connected, had this magical moment, saw this new little alien being for the first time, and had that out-of-body experience almost all new parents feel. It was at that moment I received a knock on the door that they were ready for me for the first shot of the movie,” he said.

“I had to hang up, and then walk to set to begin the journey of this film. At the risk of sounding pat or cliché, my life, perspective, and sense of self changed in that moment in a deep and meaningful way, and is thus inextricably woven into my experience of making ‘Nefarious’,” he added.

Playing James Martin

He opened up about playing psychiatrist James Martin. “What I liked most about the role of James Martin was the arc of his journey,” he said. He’s the character who goes on a journey, the character with the arc that changes by the film’s end. It’s a character that is possibly, literally and figuratively, facing his demons, and thus in a situation where the stakes could not be higher,” he said.

“James is accomplished, and smart, but not necessarily wise. And I think the change he goes through is profound. He thinks he knows everything. He’s got an answer for everything, and as Nefarious slowly and steadily chips away at everything James thinks he knows, even to the point of James beginning to question his own sanity, he is changed.

“There are experiences in life that humble us, make us realize that we don’t have all the answers, and I believe that arc comprises one of the central themes of the movie,” he said.

Working with Sean Patrick Flanery

Belfi had great words about his “Nefarious” scene partner, Emmy winner Sean Patrick Flanery.

“I can’t say enough about what is was like working with Sean Patrick Flanery. The person opposite you in a movie like this is everything. As I mentioned above, the circumstances of shooting this film, both in the heavy performance lift of the story all boiling down to the intellectual face-off between our two characters, and in the dearth of rehearsal time and compressed shooting schedule, made it absolutely critical that I had a partner that I could both trust and depend on to bring a level of performance that was going to elicit reactions out of me, and with whom I had the type of chemistry required to make the material sing,” he remarked.

“In Sean, I had all of that – and for that, I am extremely grateful. He’s loyal, solid, unpretentious, and has integrity, both as an actor and as a man. I don’t think it would be insanely presumptuous to say I think he felt the same. Which again, is why it worked so wonderfully,” he said.

The digital age

On being an actor in the digital age, now with streaming and technology being so prevalent, he said, “It’s one of the reasons why I was so drawn to ‘Nefarious.’ It’s the kind of movie that isn’t made as often anymore. There is no CGI in the movie. It is character, performance, and story driven.”

“The gripping, psychological thriller and horror elements are achieved through storytelling – through the writing, ideas, performances, and general construction of the movie,” he added.

“It doesn’t rely on spectacle, CG effects, cliché movie depictions of demons, or trope-y horror movie jump scares and gore. It’s haunting in a deeper, more realistic way. Also, ‘Nefarious’ was released only in theaters, which, in this heavy tech and streaming age, is more and more rare. There is nothing like seeing a film in a theater with an audience. Almost any actor and filmmaker will tell you that,” he said.

“Cinema is larger than life, it’s supposed to be bigger than you, and having the communal experience of seeing a movie in a darkened theater is magical. And that’s really what it is to a certain degree – magic. After two hours, if I movie is good, you are lost inside of it, unaware of self, and when it ends you come to as if you were in an emotional and psychological trance. It’s also the ultimate test if a film works. You can feel the audience in real time,” he elaborated.

“And so ‘Nefarious’ going only to theaters to entertain and affect audiences in this streaming age was incredibly special, and, on a personal level, a dream of my childhood self in love with the majesty and magic of movies,” he added.

‘Entourage’

He also recalled his time on “Entourage.” “It was a seminal point in my career,” he said. “I will always be grateful to Doug Ellin and the rest. It all begins on the page, and Doug’s words and his crafting of the show cannot be understated. There are moments that are inflection points in the trajectory of your career, and ‘Entourage’ was an inflection point for me. It is very rare, and very special, to be a part of a show that becomes zeitgeist, that has a cultural impact, and that is not lost on me for a moment.”

Belfi continued, “I played Adam Davies across six seasons, and to this day, no matter where I am, or even what country I am in, people want to talk to me about the show, about how it inspired them to move to LA and pursue whatever they’re pursuing, and rap about how they’ve watched the entire series multiple times through. Guys come up to me on the street all the time and say, ‘Yo, Adam Davies!’ and quote my own lines back to me.”

“That is insanely rare and special and unique, and the ultimate compliment. To touch people with your work, move them, entertain them, and make them laugh – it’s why I do what I do,” he added.

Working with Kevin Connolly in ‘Entourage’

He praised Kevin Connolly of “Entourage.” “Kevin is the best,” he exclaimed. “We actually didn’t work together much during ‘Entourage,’ as my character’s storylines in the beginning dealt mostly with Kevin Dillion’s character Drama, as Adam was Drama’s agent.”

“Then, as the series went on and Adam grew to become a nemesis to Jeremy Piven’s character Ari Gold, I worked mostly with Jeremy. But I was a guest on the Victory Podcast, the ‘Entourage’ podcast that Connolly, Doug Ellin, and Kevin Dillion do together for Connolly’s media company Action Park Media, and so we hung together on the show to talk ‘Entourage’ and share stories. He’s super smart, funny, and it was a great time.”

Dream acting partners

On his dream acting partners, he said, “I’ve had the great fortune over the course of my career to work with a number of legendary actors, as well as actors that would be called actors’ actors. Working with anyone who is truly great at something brings out the best in you.”

“It forces you to up your game, challenges you, surprises you, scares you, brings out things of which you didn’t even known you were capable. I always want to be in that situation, surrounded by the best so that I have the chance to do challenging, and thus fulfilling work,” he added.

“Two actors that would be someday be dream acting partners are Gary Oldman and Cate Blanchett,” he said. “Sam Rockwell and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman are two others that jump to mind. All are masters of their craft, often times chameleons who bring energy, imagination, and inventiveness to their work, and who would thus be a dream to work opposite. If you’re asking about dream partners, I’d be crazy not to bring up obvious legends like Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and Dustin Hoffman.”

“Finally, there are four actors whom I have watched and admired since I was a kid, and personally consider the last of the true movie stars, in the classic, old school definition of the term – Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Cruise. Working amidst their power and aura and the ineffable qualities that define that type of cinematic stardom would be a dream,” he added.

Success

On his definition of the word success, he said, “Success means finding purpose and meaning. It is that which leads me to happiness and fulfillment – not pursuing things that are ephemeral. Material and professional success, which most people think of when they hear the word, are not bad, insofar as they are not pursued as ends in and of themselves, but as a means to the things that bring meaning and happiness.”

“For me, it is doing work that is joyful and meaningful,” he said. “It is having love, building a family and having children, cultivating deep friendships, touching others lives, gaining knowledge and wisdom in the pursuit of becoming deeper, and doing good.”

Closing thoughts on ‘Nefarious’

Belfi concluded about “Nefarious,” “It is a movie that defies categorization – it exists at the nexus of psychological thriller, faith, and horror. It is a gripping, entertaining thriller that no matter anyone’s belief system, is edge-of-your-seat compelling, moving, and ultimately profoundly thought-provoking.”

“I hope viewers get the feeling that they just experienced something significant, something with meaning, that not only immersed them for an hour and half, but a story that moved them and made them think,” he said.

To learn more about actor Jordan Belfi, follow him on Instagram.

Read More: Review: ‘Nefarious,’ starring Sean Patrick Flanery, is a riveting film

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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