Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.
1. It’s kind of amazing that the Mirvishes are in the business of building modern luxury condos but their rehearsal-hall bathrooms look like they were pieced together from the old Barney Miller set.
2. Driving by Wendell Statton Sr. Public School:
Me- That’s where I went for grade 7 and 8, Ella.
Ella- You think any of your teachers still remember you?
Me- I don’t think any of my teachers are still there.
Ella- I don’t think any of your teachers are still ALIVE but do you think they remember you?
3. I’ve been in a bit of a funk today cause I can’t quite figure out how I’m going to spend the remaining 292 International Men’s Days this year.
4. Damn! Those cars really are small.
5. Black Sabbath announced last week that they are breaking up after forty-nine years together as a band, which came as a big surprise to absolutely nobody. Not one single fucking person.
6. Observation of the Week:
Rachel Cairns to Richard Greenblatt, at the Sunday night performance of the indie hit Stupid Fucking Bird. “What’s Nappo doing here before the half? He’s never even at the shows HE’S IN before the half.”
8. Doug Ford telling people to boycott a Canadian independent film is like Cuba Gooding Jr.’s agent telling him to boycott wise career choices.
9. Just going through my bucket list—does it still count as the Mile High Club if there was nobody else in the bathroom with you?
10. Angela Lansbury and Lawrence Bayne in a still from the failed buddy comedy pilot Murder, She Groped.
11. FUN FACT: It takes more nights to hand out the Canadian Screen Awards than most of the nominated films actually ran in theatres.
12. Director Weyni Mengesha has a ritual that she does on each of her productions’ first day of rehearsal. A ritual she borrowed from Djanet Sears, the first director she ever assisted. She asks everyone to bring in an object that represents why or what drew them to becoming a storyteller, and then talk about why they chose that specific thing. It’s a powerful exercise and a great way for a cast to bond immediately and intimately. The first time I worked with Weyni on Butcher, I had to think hard on what that object would be.
I ended up choosing a Fonzie doll that I have had since I was eight years old. Well, in truth, it only looks like a Fonzie doll, it isn’t really one. See, when I was growing up, Fonzie was the coolest character on television, in my mind—every woman wanted him and every man feared him. A complete and total badass who never took his leather jacket off and said shit like, “ayyyye” and “whooooaaa” and the entire world just fell at his feet. And, to top it all off, he was Italian. THAT was the fucking guy I wanted to be. Growing up in Scarborough through the 70s and the 80s, quite poor, quite shy, with bad teeth, the son of an ailing immigrant father, always feeling slightly lesser than, and not quite understanding half of what was going on around me, TV was both my escape and my teacher. The things I learned from it and from film stars of the time, like Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood, were that the most-valued traits in a man were his ability to drink, fuck, and fight.
It wasn’t until later in life when I realized there actually was no such thing as Fonzie. Fonzie was a construct. He was a gross exaggeration—a cartoon character played by a super nice, kind of nerdy, mild-mannered young Jewish actor named Henry Winkler. As the show and character’s popularity grew, Winkler didn’t actually want kids to idolize the Fonzie character for embodying that ridiculous male cliche fantasy despite all the personal gain it had brought him. So he and the writers of Happy Days sent Fonzie back to school and made him a teacher and a business man and told the kids to “eat their veggies” and stay in school and respect their parents and whatnot. The man behind Fonzie wasn’t cool at all. Or, rather, he was—he just wasn’t that bullshit cool I had bought into as a child.
For Weyni’s exercise, the doll worked on a couple of levels: 1) the nerdy kid I was who tried to be cool for so many years without even knowing what the fuck that meant, and 2) the actor I later grew into.
As a boy, right up through high school and university, acting school, and much of my early adulthood, my personality was completely malleable. I would morph into whoever people wanted me to be. It might seem ironic that it took professional acting training to help me discover how to stop “acting” as a human being, but anyone who knows anything about acting will tell you that its goal is, simply put, to not act. Authenticity is the goal, both in my work and in my life.
So now, when I stand in front of a camera or an audience, I am finally capable of being who I am because I finally understand what that means: showing my fear, vulnerability, insecurities, desperation, needs, wildest wants, deepest regrets, folly, curiosity, dreams, beliefs, empathy, passion, fight, surrender, and, sometimes, even my compromise. Not hiding behind a leather jacket or whatever bullshit manufactured persona of the day.
I am a highly imperfect and terrified human being just trying to get through each day and trying to have as positive an effect as I can on the world around me. And sometimes I have successes and sometimes I have failures but whatever the fuck they are, they are real and they are mine.
And that’s why I said at the beginning that my doll only looked like a Fonzie doll but really isn’t one. Because, in actual fact, it’s a Henry Winkler doll. And, truth be told, that Henry Winkler is one of the coolest motherfuckers who ever lived.