Interview - The retaliators : our Michael Lombardi's interview

By Mulder, New York, 24 august 2022

The Retaliators is a 2021 American thriller / action horror film released by Better Noise Films starring Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca, and Joseph Gatt which debuted at Arrow FrightFest London. The film also features appearances by musicians Tommy Lee, Jacoby Shaddix, Zoltan Bathory, and The Retaliators now has a global theatrical release on September 14, 2022 after playing at global film festivals. The film follows a father named John Bishop (Michael Lombardi) whose daughter is brutally murdered and he seeks vengeance for her death, while also finding out about the dark underworld she was involved in.

We had the opportunity to talk with the main actor and producer Michael Lombardi.

Q : Hello Michael, what can you tell us about your background and your inspiration to become an actor ?

Michael Lombardi : So my name is Michael Lombardi. I've been an actor for a very long time now i studied. Acting in New York City and then went on to some smaller roles and have had quite a journey my motivation was actually started out as a musician in New York City. I love storytelling. I love music and i love  having the luxury of being able to be an artist as my career and as my life so. I'm very blessed and it's been a crazy wild journey with a lot of ups and downs.

Q : In a few words how can you describe the movie The retaliators ?

Michael Lombardi : So the retaliators is a revenge thriller horror i would say that it sits on the highbrow side of horror it touches upon morality religion justice and it's a crazy wild ride.

Q : I had the chance to discover The Retaliators last year and I was completely won over and inspired to write a nice review of this film. I am very lucky to see one of my quotes on the US and French poster. Did you expect such an excellent worldwide critical reception of the film ?

Michael Lombardi : You know i want to thank you so much because you did give us a wonderful review and when i saw you were on my list today to do this interview. I wanted to start by thanking you actually because i love that the film resonated with you. Understood it you said some very smart things you know when you're making a movie you have no idea how the film is going to be received but i think what's really important is staying true to what you read on the page and what you felt and I think there's a lot of little easter eggs in this movie. It's a wink at the 80s. I'm very influenced by that with the writers our tastes are very aligned and as an actor I’ve learned the number one thing is to rely on the writers so creatively as an actor and producer of this and an additional director i work very closely with the writers to make sure that some of these easter eggs and some of these elements that we had in the film made it from the page to the script. That being said, it may not be for everyone and no movie is so if it is then it's probably not a good movie we start in the spielbergian sort of Dante gremlinsy world and you know you end up in this crazy Tarantino asked third act and i think you know i even saw Sin city and some graphic novel elements to the film and it's just a crazy wild ride and a lot of those things and of course the wink of the 80s with the one-liners and you know Die hard and the bad guy being like Terminator as cold as ice and not saying much you know some people might go oh the bad guy should have had more levels or more dynamic or more this but we wanted him that way because that's how our favorite films of the 80s were so there's a lot of things but you know you received it and understood it and some others have so that's what it's .

Q : Which were your sources of inspiration to create your character Bishop ? What did you bring to this character to give him a real human depth? What do you have in common with him ?

Michael Lombardi : You know as an actor you have to find elements of yourself and every character so you find the things that you can attach to and you find as ifs or ways to attach to things that maybe are something you would never do but you have to find a way to react truthfully in that imaginary circumstance. So when i read on the page the writers put in John Bishop doing a sermon in church in this small town he's a rock star in this environment and i said okay i get it within his community he's opened arms he's a fun loving guy. So i went to sermons real life sermons to modern day sermons that have bans and different things in them to embrace that and get an understanding and then um you know and then i found some other characters in some ways i am in my own life that could relate to this guy. He's charming guy. He's funny. He's there. He's open He's sweet. He has different elements like that and then to go to the dark places. Now you have to understand if you have a child, a small child, you could relate to this topic. It's retaliation. it's revenge. It's as old as Shakespeare writing about love right. It's like the oldest story in the book and you have to be able to tap into that so i found some incredible YouTube videos that showed the guy in in a court case addressing his son's killer and this primal he was like look like a mathematician a small guy in this primal animalistic instinct came over him and he jumped at the guy so different um different elements of that finally i remember being a young child and wondering oh my god if someone ever hurt my parents and you know what would you do so all these different elements and that and then putting myself in that circumstance of something happening to one of my loved ones so you find these you did a lot of homework you just sort of put it all in there and then you go.

Q : which scene was the most difficult to play and why ?

Michael Lombardi : You know there's a few difficult scenes actually for me to have played i think when I’m confronted and you have that question of what would you do that provocative question if you had a minute alone with the person who killed your loved one but then looking at the human in the eyes and the hatred that you would feel but then having morality and can you really hurt a human being you know like can you like poke a human being's eye out or really do that so that was a that was a challenge. Being faced with that but you know there were also a lot of different scenes. Being a producer and an additional director on the film that i watched or worked on that were hard watching other actors do and being like I don't want to give a spoiler alert away but you know what my sort of daughter goes through and you know watching some of that was very intense and very difficult.

Q : What can you tell us about you collaboration on this film with the directors Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Bridget Smith as actor but also producer ?

Michael Lombardi : you know, i think what was wonderful about those two, they both they both brought so many such strong elements you know Bridget Smith sets a wonderful warm tone on set you know an actor needs to be able to feel comfortable to jump off that ledge and do these crazy things and she was very wonderful at the story and talking to both myself and Marc Menchaca who carry a lot of the story of the film and doing those scenes where Samuel Gonzalez Jr is great too but he also he's so hyper stylized like if you're drinking through a a glass of water. He'll want to shoot up through the glass of water into your eyeball so you see an image of a machete or something you know like he's wonderfully hyper stylized so i think the two elements mixed very nicely and that doesn't always work but i think that we were very conscious of this and our editor Randy Bricker who i sat in the editing room. He's also a very story-driven guy he started out on the April on the film he was an apprentice editor with Tom Cruise I am legend and then he also ended up directing the Halloween franchise and now he's the first number one top editor on the Chucky series so this guy had horror and story and it was really important to combine those two and make this very fluid and intense with the extra stylized elements but yet the story elements.

Q : What can you tell us about the importance of the music in this film ?

Michael Lombardi : The music is everything. I mean music you know picking it supports a scene so much you can take away from a scene or support a scene i think it adds to the wild journey this music in particular the rock the metal it lends itself it jumped off the page to me when i read it in the music that this this film was starving for it so i think it's a tremendous part and then on top of all that we were fortunate enough to get the Stranger Things guys Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein to score the movie and again with that 80s vibe and that 80s feel we were going for that was our top choice so with all these incredible musicians in the film but also on the soundtrack and then adding in the Stranger Things guys. You know for me it was just a home run.

Q : Which director would you like to work with and why ?

Michael Lombardi : You know there are so many different directors I mentioned Spielberg at the beginning of such a legend you know and like the way the opening is and I mean these are just dream legends it's very easy to list the most obvious ones Tarantino. I love his films and we're so influenced by those movies like me and the writers and that as i said our taste buds sort of our taste and our creativeness being aligned in that manner and there's winks of those Death wish you know all those great Charles Bronson films,  Clint Eastwood. So for the obvious ones those are the guys those are sort of my heroes and what i grew up on. I told you,  I’m very influenced by the 80s and 90s so a lot of those guys have been my heroes .

Q : In watching your movie I thought about The Punisher Marvel comics character and also about Ash on Evil Dead, about the transformation of a good man in a true warrior.  You are perfect on this film and deliver a such great interpretation. Which impact has this movie on your career ?

Michael Lombardi : Oh thank you so much again for your words you know in terms of my career hopefully this helps you know I mean at the end of the day hopefully people enjoy the film you always hope for the best you know and you want I just love and I’m so blessed being able to have made a life as an artist and an actor and i love this role so much and i have to tell you the writers and i have a sort of trilogy written because it's such a passion project for us so it's something that we're like we hope you know we're ready to cash in on this. We want to tell the story you know so we have some a really crazy part too ready to go and hopefully we're able to do that and i can revisit this character and have some fun again on it. it's the bottom line right now for me. One step at a time you know.

Q : Do you have some words to say to your French fans that we encourage to go to see this excellent film ?

Michael Lombardi : You were encouraged to go to see the movie. You know I just want to thank you again for your kind words and I hope that you can go and enjoy this film and i think and I hope you think that it's the kind of movie where you can go to it and you'll have fun and be scared but you can also have a cocktail afterwards or have dinner and be able to talk about the story a little bit and talk about these the subject matter and sort of be on the fence one way or the other with these topics of morality religion or justice so hopefully it makes an impact and it's a fun film but will also make you think a little bit.

Q : Which advices would you give to someone who would like to become an actor ?

Michael Lombardi : i think you have to really love it. I think that you have to feel like you can't do anything else but be an actor because i think you're going to be up against a lot of challenges not only at the beginning but throughout the whole journey every day is difficult every month every year. You don't know what your next project is. You don't know where you're going and I think people don't understand also and again look there's a lot of professions you know my father i came from nothing. My dad's a hard-working guy you know who but it's labor intensive and you have to have a work ethic it's not they're long days on set but they're long days to get to set i almost look at it. The job is in between movies when i get the job that's the vacation to me and when i get on that set or get on that tv show and let me tell you like i said on this one 12-hour days of filming and producing it just never stops but you have to love it that's the number one thing.

Q : What are your current projects ?

Michael Lombardi : So I just wrapped a film a few weeks ago. Plan B is a romantic comedy. It was really fun to shoot. I was such a difference from this i got to be you know play have fun. I mean, I have fun in this but in a different way my character and Tom Berenger plays my dad in the film who's incredible. The guy's been in 89 feature films and nominated for academy awards so he was sort of like a hero. For him to play my father in the movie was incredible and then Jamie Lee from Ted Lasso is in the film and another great actor John Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) is in the movie among others. So it was a blast that's i just wrapped filming that and you know right now I’m just seeing this retaliators get across the finish line we're coming to theaters september 14th and then we'll go to streaming and digital and then hopefully you know like i said if the movie does well we'll be able to do another one.

Synopsis : 
An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter's brutal murder. A high-octane original soundtrack and cameos from some of the biggest names in rock music set the tone as this horror-thriller reveals a game of revenge played using a new set of rules. 

The Retaliators
Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr., Bridget Smith
Written by Darren Geare, Jeff Allen Geare
Produced by Roy Koriakin, Allen Kovac, Michael Lombardi, Michael Walsh
Starring  Michael Lombardi, Marc Menchaca, Joseph Gatt, Katie Kelly, Abbey Hafer, Jacoby Shaddix, Brian O'Halloran, Shannan Wilson, Zoltan Bathory, Ivan L. Moody, Chris Kael, Spencer Charnas, Craig Mabbitt, Tommy Lee, Jason Hook
Cinematography : Joseph Hennigan
Edited by Randy Bricker
Music by Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein
Production company : Better Noise Films
Release dates : August 30, 2021 (London), September 14, 2022 (United States), September 15, 2022 (France)

We would like to thank Michael Lombardi for answering our questions and the PR company Strike Media