Noel Gugliemi has been acting for over twenty-five years in films ranging from dramas, to comedies, action and thrillers. These days Noel is working on sharing a message of hope through his own films with his production company Entangled Entertainment. Beyond film Noel also owns the apparel company Godsterz Gear and travels as a guest speaker sharing his life story with audiences from coast to coast. We caught up with Noel as he embarks on his first feature film and begins a documentary that will surely bring about a raw and honest discussion of faith no matter what the viewer believes.
MV: Welcome to Movie Vine, Noel.
Noel: Thank you.
MV: I recently watched your documentary The Testimony Tour. How did that first come about? Was it something planned as you traveled the country sharing your testimony, or did someone approach you with the idea?
Noel: The documentary came about because I’ve always watched documentaries, and I like a lot of documentaries. That’s funny because when that documentary came out that wasn’t even my plan really. I wanted to make a documentary about Christianity. I wanted to show people that being a Christian is not a religion. It’s a personal relationship between you and God. That’s what the documentary was supposed to be about. I told that guy just come with me to a couple of churches get me doing my testimony. We got pastors and were asking them difficult questions. Any tough question that you can think of because I kind of speak my mind, and to be honest with you, sometimes that can get me into trouble. Let’s get it out. Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the things that are sometimes kept quiet. I know that you’ve never in your life seen a talk show talk on the difference between religions and beliefs. That’s a very touchy subject for people. That would be the biggest debate probably ever that a show has had. I’ve never seen one. So that was my original documentary idea then it stirred off into this whole different direction. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty, but it went the other way. I’m actually in the middle of making the one that I really want to make with someone else.
MV: That would be really interesting discussing the difference between religion and beliefs.
Noel: What I’m wanting to do is to talk to whatever other religion is out there and I just want to say “What is it that you believe?” Because I don’t know what Muslims believe or the Church of Scientology believes. I don’t know because I’ve never ventured off in that. I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and that’s what I believe in. A documentary that makes people understand what Christianity is really about maybe would open up some eyes and some ears. I basically picture a documentary on what a Christian is. Let people know that we don’t judge anybody. We don’t believe in religion we just believe in a personal relationship. Because when you stand in front of God it’s just going to be you and Him by yourself nobody else. So I think with a documentary on Christianity what it really is, and showing the difference of why we don’t believe in this or that then people just understand it. I think that would be one of the most powerful documentaries ever in my opinion. Because there are a lot of people out there who really don’t know what Christianity is. I want them to get a clear understanding by watching this documentary and say “Oh, I thought a Christian was that or this”. When they watch the documentary then they’ll be like “Oh, now I get it”. Who knows what that might do. Some people might turn their life over or some might be like “I still don’t believe it.” You can’t change everybody’s mind. You just make what you make, do what you do, and in the end God will work it all out.
MV: While working on your documentary will that still leave time for you to speak with churches and schools?
Noel: Yeah, I’m still speaking at schools. I received an award in Orange County for speaking at schools and speaking at churches. I was kind of shocked by that one like “What?! You guys want to award me? Ok.” That was kind of interesting.
Noel: Thank you. I’m actually working on a youth ministry at my church, Praise Chapel Whittier, called BLAST. Bringing Light and Salvation Today that’s what BLAST stands for. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on so my schedule has been real busy. I got my hand in a lot of different cookie jars right now. I got the t-shirt line (Godsterz). Movies, you know, still doing that. My own production company called Entangled Entertainment making our own movies. There’s a lot on the plate.
MV: What can you tell us about Entangled Entertainment? Is that something you are focusing on more now that you are working on your new documentary?
Noel: Yeah, Entangled Entertainment is kind of like my main focus now. We’re making our first movie, my first film, my own film. Hopefully that will be become a big production company like something similar to Tyler Perry or George Clooney’s production companies where they are making their own movies, getting them distributed, and putting them out there in theaters, on DVD, and so forth.
MV: Are you going to have a specific message for each movie like for instance a message of hope?
Noel: There will be a message of hope in each movie. What we’re doing is we’re making the movies to where they are letting people know about God, but at the same time we’re going to be a little more discrete about it and use wisdom. I want to give the hopeless hope. The guy that is thinking about committing suicide will no longer think about committing suicide. I want him to leave my movie encouraged, and I want him to leave inspired with a brand new mind. Just a thing of like “My life can be changed and it can be turned around. I just got to make some choices and now I know where to find out about God”. Which is the true power source of everybody. If they will just give God time then they will notice that God will give them time.
MV: So it’s going to be entertaining, but also encouraging and inspiring. It’s not preaching to people it’s just the story itself will be an example.
Noel: Exactly. The story itself will be a life changing story. It’s not going to be preachy because I think people are over the days of “Get Jesus or you’re going to Hell!”. That’s not the way to approach them. The way it works is when the relationship is there first then the trust is there second. And, until you have that relationship with someone you can’t really trust them all the way. But, once they start the relationship with God then they’ll realize “His way does work, and He is protecting me, and what He’s telling me is right” and then the trust will start to take place. And, once the trust starts to take place the love will begin. So my whole thing with our movies is we want them to be life changing stories. God gives us wisdom and strategy. That’s what God does. So with that being said we’re going to use wisdom and strategy with these movies because the preaching days are over. Now it’s more like show me what God can do. Show me your lifestyle. Once they see the proof then we can talk all day long. That will change people’s hearts hopefully and their minds.
Noel: Yeah. Exactly. Thank you for that. That’s cool.
MV: Would you mind sharing a little about your journey from actor to filmmaker? When did you first get your start in acting?
Noel: Well what happened was when I was fifteen I was living with this girl and I was homeless at the time because my parents left me at thirteen. That’s a long story but I never met either side of the family, my mom or my dad’s side. So this girl I was living with wanted to be an actress, and one day she took me with her to this acting class. When I went there I thought it was kind of silly. Never thought about acting a day in my life. There was a producer who was sitting in class, he was scouting out talent, and he asked me if I wanted to be in a Taco Bell commercial. Right place. Right time. First thing I ever did in my life was a Taco Bell commercial. Made a lot of money. I was getting these residual checks and I didn’t know that’s how actors get paid so I thought a computer messed up. He explained to me how you get paid. He said “No, no, no that’s how actors get paid. Every time they show them, you get a check.” I said “Really? If that’s the case I want to be an actor.” He hooked me up with a manager. I’ve been acting since I was fifteen years old. It’s just been a blessing. Lately I’ve been able to pick up some good movies, some good roles.
MV: Let’s talk about some of your upcoming projects. What have you been working on?
Noel: I’ve got a movie coming out with Sylvester Stallone and some of the guys from The Expendables, Terry Crews, Tom Berenger and some other people called Reach Me. I play a detective in a little horror movie called Kidnap Souls. I worked with Danny Trejo, the guy who is Machete, on Force of Execution with Ving Rhames and Steven Seagal. And, then Food Stamps is also with Danny Trejo and the guy from the George Lopez show Valente Rodriguez. It’s like a Mexican version of Friday. You can actually see that one on YouTube right just go to Food Stamps Movie Trailer. I did a movie with Nikki Reed, she was in Twilight, and Scott Bakula, and Jason Priestley called Snap. I did a TV show with Andy Dick and Regina King as well. So staying busy. And, then I’ve got my own movie (with Entangled Entertainment) called Shotgun. It’s kind of like Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society, and Scarface mashed together but with a message of God. They give a noble message in all of those movies which is kind of like get a career, go to college, and stop doing bad things. But we all know that even if they are doing all of that without being connected to Jesus Christ that doesn’t get you into Heaven. You can be a good person, but a very good person without God is still going to be in trouble at the end of the day. So it’s kind of a like a movie like that. Then I’ve got this other movie called Love Language it’s a romantic comedy where people don’t judge a book by its cover, but they judge each other for their hearts. It’s like the prisoner fell in love with the guard, and when the prisoner gets released they get married. So it’s a lot of different movies that I’ve got my hands on and hands in. You know I’m trying to make a million dollars. (laughs) No I’m kidding. Just working and staying busy. Know what I mean?
MV: (laughs) Yeah. People assume that all actors are multi-millionaires. What they don’t realize is that actors might only book a couple jobs a year, and not everyone makes twenty million a movie.
Noel: People don’t know that you’ve got to be Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise to make the real money. It’s not what people think. They automatically see you on TV and think “Oh my God they are a millionaire”. But, acting is like any other job out there if not worse because once the acting job is over you’re unemployed again and are looking for work. So sometimes that can get scary and so forth. I’ve been very very blessed in that I’ve been able to make a living off of doing what I love. And, I’ve been in the position where I know a lot of people in Hollywood and sometimes I get offers. Sometimes I have to go in, interview, and I still have to fight for a role like anybody else. But, I’m just saying that people would think that it’s easy where I’m at. I can say it’s easier, but it’s not easy. I’m still struggling as well and I get the struggle, you know, I get it all.
MV: You have a whole bunch of irons in the fire. You’re not just sitting back and waiting for it to happen. You have to go out there and push for it. And, sometimes even open the doors yourself.
Noel: Exactly. But, when putting God first in everything that I do a lot more doors have been opening up, and a lot more blessings have been coming in. So it’s been an awesome ride. Someone who is not in the business, or knows the business, won’t understand this, but I tell people all of the time that I’m living off of faith every day. That is what I’m doing.
MV: If a young person were to approach you about wanting to get into the industry what would you share with them to keep them from falling into the typical traps and pitfalls of Hollywood?
Noel: I would tell the kids number one, I always tell them this, if you cannot handle rejection this is not the business for you. Sometimes you can be the best actor in the world, but it has nothing to do with your acting. It could be because you are too short, too fat, too skinny, just didn’t look right for the part, or whatever have you. It has nothing to do with your acting it just could have been the way you looked. Then, just to give a crazy example, I tell them don’t chop off your right arm to be in this one movie, to be an actor, and get the starring role. Because the next part that you get might not require a dude with only one arm. It might need a dude with two arms. That’s why they have make up and special effects. So don’t go out there and get a tattoo, or do something drastic to your body to change you for a certain particular part. If they like you that’s what makeup and special effects are for. That’s why I make the point so clear like if you can’t handle rejection this is not the business for you. Because for me I went to like thirty or forty auditions before I got one. And, I’m not going to lie to you, when I was on like the tenth audition I was like “Damn, maybe nobody likes me, nobody wants me, nobody cares”. But, you know if I would have gave up I would never be where I’m at today. So I didn’t let not getting one audition stop me, or ten auditions, or twenty auditions stop me. I kept on. I kept on. I kept on. I kept on. I kept on. And, finally I got a part. Then I got another part. Then I started getting known so I started getting more parts. Look at where I’m at today. I tell people that there is only one way that you can fail in life and that is if you quit. So you just have to keep on persevering and push through.
MV: I like that. And, you’re so right the only way to fail is to quit.
Noel: Yeah. The second thing is you should never ever in your life be paying an agent or a manager before you get a job. Be very careful about that. Be very careful about the classes or seminars you take. A good friend of mine wanted to write a book You Don’t Need Film School to Make a Movie. Because he learned more by being a production assistant, and being on set, than he ever would have in film school. Even a top notch film school. So what I encourage people to do is to be an extra. When I first started out there’s this place in Hollywood called Central Casting where you can be an extra. If you can be on set as an extra at least it puts you in the world of filming. You can see and learn firsthand how they do this, how they do that, what works, and what doesn’t. Before you know it you’re talking to people who have been in it for twenty years. The most effective learning tool is to be an extra and be on set. Be in the action. Be in the middle of the action. Or work with someone who is in the middle of the action who knows. There is something that I will never forget that an agent told me and I always tell it to kids. A lot of people think that you have to learn how to act first, then go get an agent and manager, and start getting interviews second. I tell them “No, no, no! Hollywood is looking for new faces all of the time 24/7. I don’t even care if you have no experience, no resume. Get a headshot. The most you should spend is $100 – $150 for that.” Then I tell them to go interview and go on auditions. The more you go the more you’ll learn so you’ll be in it. That’s how you make it in acting. You just do it. Don’t talk about it. Just do it and get in the grind. There is nothing better than experience being your teacher, but the only way to experience is to start. And, if you’re asking me how to start I would say start by being an extra. Because you can be an extra with no talent, nothing needed or required, they just look at you and say “Yeah, we’re going to put you in the background of this movie” and that’s how you’ll start learning.
MV: I think that is great advice. You get to see how the set is run and it gives you a sense of professionalism that’s on the set. What are you most looking forward to in the future? What would you hope to look back on in five or ten years and think “I am really glad I did that!”?
Noel: You know really, I’m just going to be honest with you, before God came into my life I just cared about money and girls. That was it. I just wanted to be the richest guy in the world with all of the girls in the world. At one point in my life I really truthfully thought that was all I had to live for. When God entered my life five years ago and showed me really where I could go, what I needed to be used for, and what my purpose really was, now my whole way of thinking has been turned around. My whole thought process has been changed. Now all I want to do is to make it to Heaven myself, and I want to make sure that as many people as I can get make it to Heaven too. And, I’m trying to be the best husband to my wife as well. My thing is I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes even in my Christian walk. I have some regrets. I have things that I wish I could take back and that I didn’t do. I went more off of the flesh. I didn’t think things out properly, and didn’t demonstrate the lifestyle of how a Christian would handle it. Or a true man of God, if you will, in his lifestyle. I can honestly, in integrity, say that I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes, and I have regret. But, I’m also saying in integrity that I know that I’m a better man now with God than I was without God. I just want to be sure that people make it into the kingdom of Heaven, and I want to make sure that people serve God the way that they should be, and understand that they don’t have to be perfect in that. They are going to make mistakes. At the end of the day, I just want to let them know that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. If they know that, and they serve Him, they will get a ticket upstairs instead of downstairs. So my goal overall is I want to leave a legacy of my life. I’m hoping that these movies, and Entangled Entertainment, will transform their way of thinking, the way of their heart, and the way of their lifestyle. And, make people start realizing “I do have a purpose in life, and it’s not just to be rich, and it’s not to get all of the girls, and it’s not to have a big house with fancy cars. It’s to help people and be there for people”. I want to let them know that Jesus loves them, and that Jesus was their true creator of why they are even here on Earth. And, show people their purpose in life whatever that might be for that individual. That’s my goal. That’s what I’m trying to do. So that’s it.
MV: That’s awesome! Thank you very much for hanging out with Movie Vine, Noel. I really appreciate you taking the time to share with us today.
Noel: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you.
*Please visit www.godsterz.com for more information on Noel along with information on church bookings and school events. Note that Noel is NOT on Facebook or Twitter and asks that you report any fake profiles you may come across.
“Instead of keeping it Gangster keep it Godster.” ~ Noel G