Article published in Dropline.biz on April 3, 2006
David Marciano—“Mr. Versatile”
By Sarah D. Goldstein (co-authored Dino M. Zaffina)
David Marciano was born in Newark, New Jersey. When he was very young his family moved to Belleville, New Jersey, then back to Newark when David was just eight years old. During his youth, acting was not something that interested David. He never attended drama classes or tried out for school plays. Instead, he concentrated on sports, like football, but eventually realized that he wasn’t big enough, so he quit the freshman football team.
After high school, Marciano attended Boston’s Northeastern University to study biomedical engineering. It was then that Marciano remembered the results of a high school aptitude test, which suggested he be either an architect or actor. He received words of encouragement from his mother as how an acting class would benefit him in any job he took, so he decided to give acting a go – and he hasn’t looked back since.
“When I first started out I was doing an equal amount of television and film,” David said. “Television took off and it has been very very good to me. I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of quality people. I have been a part of – not just pedestrian series, but a lot of series that get critical acclaim, as well.”
Marciano just finished season five on the critically acclaimed show, The Shield where he recently was playing “Captain Steve Billings.” At the end of the season, Billings who was previously promoted to captain was seen as a cop that just didn’t do a good job, so he was demoted. “Lt. Jon Kavanaugh” (played by Forest Whitaker) of the Internal Affairs Department exposed his inadequate leadership and demeaned him in front of his colleagues.
As the storyline continued, Lt. Kavanaugh was trying to bring down “Detective Vic Mackey” (played by Michael Chiklis). During this time, Billings was asked to step up to the plate and make some important decisions, but he just did not have the wherewithal to make them, so he deferred to Mackey or someone else for assistance. Mackey took control of the barn and Billings was seen as a bureaucratic puppet. Billings is referred to as a “spineless jellyfish.” The producers modeled the Billings character after George W. Bush (i.e., bumbling and fumbling); an insinuation on the current U.S. leadership.
When push came to shove, it was time to make a move, they had to demote Billings back to detective and was asked by the new captain,Claudette Wyms (played by C.C.H. Pounder) to stay on the force, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to because he was made a fool of in front of everyone and it would be really hard for him to show his face. Nevertheless, Billings swallowed his pride and he showed up the falling week anyway.
Billings is back in the barn as a detective. On his first case he went out into the field with “Dutch,” Detective Holland Wagenbach (played by Jay Karnes). It looks like Billings and Dutch will be partners in the next season. Dutch has also been okayed to take Rookie uniform officer Tina Hanlon (played by Paula Garces) under his wing, so the three of them might work as a team.
David enjoys playing Det. Billings on The Shield, he says, “It is a really interesting role to play because Billings rides the line of being a buffoon and a good cop. I believe that in the coming season audiences will see another side of Billings. He should be making some good arrests and do some good detective work.”
The Shield will begin filming season 6 this month. The episodes will begin airing on FX in January of 2007. Marciano has a fairly flexible schedule while working on The Shield; his character Det. Billings works 3 to 6 days out of a 7 to 8 day shooting schedule. This gives Marciano some extra time to play some other interesting characters in other television shows or feature films.
One feature film that David Marciano just completed is Intellectual Property which is soon to be released. He said, “This was a very interesting project.” “It was a low budget film starring Chris Masterson (brother of Danny Masterson, “Steve Hyde” That’s ‘70s Show). This is Chris’ pet project and a good friend of his wrote and directed the film.” Marciano got in at the last minute. A friend of his, Richard Portnow, was supposed to do the part, but he backed out at the eleventh hour due to a scheduling conflict. Marciano received a telephone call from his agent at 11:30 on the morning that production was to start. The agent sent Marciano the script and the material and he had to make a decision very quickly because he was due to shoot his scene that evening at 5:00 p.m. After reading everything he agreed to take on the role. He drove out to Santa Clarita Studios where he worked from 5:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. playing this ‘50s game show host. Marciano said, “I got to wear a toupee. At the end of the host’s stint on the game show he whips off his toupee and lights up a cigarette, rips off his shirt and walks off into the sound stage.”
“Working on this project was very exciting. It was very challenging to get it all done; trying to develop a character within 3 or 4 hours and bring it to its feet for the camera,” David said.
Prior to Intellectual Property, Marciano was busy on another feature film entitled Caught on Tape written and directed by Sticky Fingaz.
This acting job came to David under a similar situation. He received a call in the afternoon and later that evening he had to meet with Sticky at his house. Production was scheduled to start the next morning. Both of those roles were done at the last minute.
“Caught on Tape is very interesting project,” Marciano said. “What attracted me to it was its uniqueness, its freshness. It is a movie that it is going tell its story to rap beats in prose or rhymes. I have an interrogation scene with Malik Yoba (from FX’s Thief).” Marciano and Yoba play detectives who are interrogating the main character (Sticky). “The three of us are in the scene, basically rapping out our part, so it was very difficult to do.”
The storyline is based on this little boy who gets a video camera as a gift. He decides to start shooting all sorts of things. One day he inadvertently leaves the camera on in the living room. In the meantime, the boy’s mother is dating this guy who sometimes stays over and he sleeps in the living room. There he plots a crime and it is all caught on tape. As he tries to plot the crime and get away with it, he is videotaped all the way through. David has three or four scenes, wherein he and Malik interrogate the guy to get him to sign a confession.
“I enjoy playing diverse characters,” Marciano said. “It has been really great these last two to three years of my career that are outside of my wheel house.”
David Marciano started his acting career playing bad guys. Detective roles started coming in about 10 years into his career. In his very first role in television he played Thug #2 on the Bold and the Beautiful. He got his big break on Wise Guy playing Lorenzo Steelgrave.
When asked if he preferred playing bad guys or cops, David responded,” It is harder to play the bad guy because I am married with children.” Marciano explained, “Bad guys are kind of crazy. A lot of bad guy characters in television are a little off to the left. You have to dig deep into a part of your character that when you are younger is easier to do. I am 46, I’m married, a father of three, I am more responsible. Criminals are irresponsible, loose cannons, kind of nefarious, playing on the edge. When you are single you tend to do that, you are a little more daring. When you are younger you tend to take a lot more risks. As you get older you start to fall into a little more comfortable zone. It makes it harder to build a bad guy character because you have to go to a darker place within your soul.”
David Marciano is a versatile actor with his best work still yet to come.
Articles Written or Co-Authored by Dino M. Zaffina
© 2017 Dino M. Zaffina. All rights reserved.