Chris Messina is more than just Danny Castellano and that actor from all the movies (almost literally all of them). He’s a director now, too: The 39-year-old Messina brought his debut film, “Alex of Venice,” to this year’s Tribeca Film Fest…
Q: Francis Ford Coppola is a pretty great resource. You’ve worked with so many incredible filmmakers so far in your career, who did you seek counsel from?
CM: Guys who I really tried to steal from were Woody Allen, Sam Mendes and Ben Affleck. Ben, I had asked some advice about things. What it is, though, is all those movies and filmmakers — even the ones you didn’t gel with or didn’t like the way they worked with you — they all tattoo themselves on you. They become your makeup. You’re constantly pulling from, and learning from, the stuff that worked and the stuff that didn’t work. Sam Mendes gave me advice that I constantly repeat: every actor comes with a gift, and it’s my job to let that gift out. I tried to do that on the set. I tried to invite these actors to play, and hire them and use them for their gifts. I think if you give any actor confidence, they’ll really fly.
Q: I feel like this came up when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman: that as an actor, he can make four movies in the time it takes him to direct one. You’ve got a full-time job on “The Mindy Project,” are you going to be able to balance that with making another film in the future?
CM: The dumbest thing I did was doing post-production while filming the television show: it was two full-time jobs. I actually told Affleck that. He is a superhero, because he can do 20 different things at the same time. I don’t know when he sleeps. He’s working on so many different scripts and projects. So, I told him what I was doing and he said, “Are you fucking nuts?” When he said that to me, I thought, “If he thinks that, I must be nuts. How am I going to pull this off?” So that I would never do again. I would love to direct again, but I would have to clear my plate to do it.