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Nick Raio

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Nick Raio
As a rule, actors shouldn’t fear playing unlikable characters, as Nick Raio has discovered. “Taught to Hate” is a short film based in part on real stories of racially motivated crimes against immigrants in Suffolk County, N.Y. In it, Raio plays a man who shares his racism with his nephew.

“A lot of my stuff has been either comedy, a gangster, or a cop,” he says. “It was a great role for me, and I like the fact that I was doing something different and that there was a message attached to this film.”

The casting notice, which ran in the Aug. 6 issue of Back Stage, called for a Caucasian male, 45–55, and Raio fit the description. At the audition, he read from sides and impressed director James Garcia-Sotomayor, who says he knew Raio was right to play Uncle Ethan “even though there were a lot of other great actors.” Crew members agreed. “I think it’s very important to get input from other people you trust,” says Garcia-Sotomayor.

Raio has played a tough guy on the first season of “The Sopranos,” a mob boss on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted,” and Guile, a recurring comic superhero type on the comedy-drama “Street Fighter: The Later Years.” He has also done many commercials. So, he says, Uncle Ethan is taking him in a new direction.

“James showed us some of the things he wanted to do, how he wanted certain shots to look, emulating a scene similar to ‘The Searchers,’ ” notes the actor. “We were also discussing movies like ‘The Birth of a Nation’ and the effect it has on people’s attitudes. He wanted to give immigrants a face, because that’s where the problems are when people dehumanize each other.”

Raio is keeping busy with several new projects, including “Fake,” a movie with producer Ken Del Vecchio. And Garcia-Sotomayor will be entering “Taught to Hate” in the Academy Awards’ short-film competition. For more on Raio, visit www.nickraio.com. For more on the film, go to www.taughttohate.com.
 
 
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