*EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW* Robert Davi on “Davi’s way” and Passion within Failure
By: Brenna Gonzalez │@Brennagonzalez5
There is something so beautiful about failing so badly it is motivational for others. Robert Davi is one of the few men who can say that they have accomplished this and truly be able to say it with pride.
I was able to sit down (over the phone) with everyone’s favorite mobster, Robert Davi, in order to talk to him about his peculiar new project that has finally seen the light of day from saving grace streaming service- Amazon Prime. Here is what he had to say:
For anyone who hasn't seen the documentary why don't you, in your own words, explain what it’s about.
“Well, I would say that it is, you know, it’s a cross between “Spinal Tap” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. It’s taking a segment of me wanting to put on a tribute for Frank Sinatra. It's about wanting to recreate Frank Sinatra's main event on his 100th birthday. It's an inside look at Hollywood, unmasked, I didn’t want it sanitized you know. People know me from the films, and this is a different side while still being edgy.”
It is comedic yet it still maintains a serious tone in what you were trying to accomplish.
Now…. what made you want to pursue music, what drew you to it?
“Initially I found out I had a voice. I always loved music. I found out I had a voice in the eighth grade, it was a natural outpouring of my expression. That really ignited in high school. I then started to study opera, I was encouraged to study opera, which I then did. I didn't initially think of the popular music or the American songbook, Sinatra's songbook. I thought of pursuing the opera world.”
So tell me about your relationship with Frank Sinatra, it was briefly mentioned in the documentary but as a big inspiration in your life, I'm sure meeting him provided an experience for you that was… very, uh, different than just listening to him.
“That was very bittersweet it's strange the year I met him was the same year he lost his mom.”
Editor’s Note: Robert Davi’s mother passed from cancer the year he met Sinatra
So that helped group you guys together, helped you to bond.
Would you say that you prefer one artistic medium over the other? Music or acting?
“I just finished a movie called “Apalachin”, I have a new tv series called “Paper Empire” … and I did a film called “Perfect Citizens” so it’s fun playing all those various characters, but when I'm myself on the stage with either a trio or a big band singing these songs, any of the American songbook songs that one responds to.. I'm a romantic at heart so that kind of communicates something. The American songbook is the Shakespeare of America, it is the golden age of America. I think its uh it it it makes the world fall in love with America and America fall in love with each other. Its very romantic songs.”
It was no secret there were complications regarding the outcome of your vision, but you mentioned how you love just being on the stage, was it frustrating for you to not get the concert to where you wanted it to be?
“When my producer saw my concert, one of my concerts with 15,000 people on long island, and he also read one of the scripts I wrote about a singer, and he thought, “you know what why don't I make this documentary, I want to make this documentary about you, follow you around and do music”, and that was the impotence of that and I said, “Sure okay”, so he put the team together and then it was decided to have us, um I, I didn't want to sanitize anything, I wanted, I wanted it to be very…”
Would you say that the portrayal of not only you but of your assistant Stevie and your family through this documentary were as raw as you wanted it to be?
“Yea I think so, I think yes, I think Stevie was absolutely terrific in it, I think there are things that have been edited that would explain some things but… for instance, they made me seem obsessive that I wanted to sing some of these songs when in reality it was only about 22 songs.”
“Not 35. I PREPARED 35 songs because that's what performers do, they pick and choose what songs to do after that.”
“Another thing not explained was the date, it wasn't explained enough that I was touring. They wanted to get the doc out sooner or whatever it was, so they moved the date up to may instead of the fall when I had the boxing ring and the, I had the venues, I had the casinos.”
So are you saying that the date is what started the unraveling of your vision?
“Absolutely. I was preparing a European tour.”
Well, you mentioned that. I don't think it as apparent as you may have wanted it to be but it was there.
“I had the infrastructure to put the show on but everything was squeezed- and then the other little thing that happened was the little short film that my assistant-”
“Yes! Stevie! It wasn't explained why I wouldn't do it and its because the character, and I didn't say it on camera, but the character was like a tough guy that was gay bashing and that's not me, I don't like to reinforce something like that and Stevie did rewrite the script, but instead he made the characters gay. So it changed the- so it wasn’t explained. But it provided for a lot of humor.”
Stevie is a standout guy, he's frantic but it's intentional.
“That's his personality though, so he would come on saying “whatever you need, whatever you need.” he wanted to be an actor. He would show up in the hat and the wardrobe and we had a talk with him before filming and he would show up in the hats and stuff and say “but this is how I dress” No. No no no no I told you. Now take the fucking hat off. Nothing was scripted in this movie.”
It seems very real in the way you were speaking, especially to your family.
“What I said to my daughter was very truthful, she just still doesn’t want to hear it. There's always access for her, I said to her put a show together but she never has. She had a couple of auditions she has talent, but you have to have more than talent.”
You have to have the drive, the conversation you had with her was very sentimental, no one wants to see their daughter cry on camera, it seemed authentic.
“She's beautiful and she can sing but she just doesn't have that passionate drive and the CONFIDENCE, oh the confidence. I could tell you till I'm blue in the face what I think but I'm just your father, you have to believe it for yourself.”
Did you have a similar upbringing? Were your parents supportive or did they allow you and encourage you sort of in the way you are doing, to just do your own thing?
“No. I dove in the waters and started to swim till I got to the other side, there are always things, there were always obstacles. I was winning a lot of awards for singing and for acting. I mean I remember my mom telling me “you can do better” she was encouraging but it wasn't anything that- they didn't know anybody, not a soul. You don't have to know anyone, you can make it on your own.”
Did you find through working with them your increasing ability to get involved in better projects? Do you think working with them led you to work on these better productions?
“First, for me, it was about the training I wanted to train with the best to be the best so that basically was the motivator. I didn't care about what car I drove, I drove a honda civic. I cared about my acting and singing lessons, that was my passion, my reason for being. My spiritual life. It's about love, doing what you love, finding love, loving love, and with that comes commitment, love is a very active uh uh uh state of being. And if you love what you do you'll want to grow in it. That to me was first and foremost. I didn't take no for an answer.”
It can't just be for the outcome, I mean you took something, an experience that would've been a nightmare for most people and you dedicated yourself to the art. It was about the journey, not the final product.
“It was about the process and the journey.”
Its inspiring in an unconventional way. It's strange how that happens…. If you had one piece of advice for upcoming artists filmmakers basically anyone with a passion for something what would it be?
“If you want it then you have to feel something inside, you have to do everything you can to get yourself closer to that goal. Study with the best, make yourself over every day. You cannot rest on who you are, you have to continually refine your art.”
If you could reverse time is there anything you would have done differently?
“I hadn't dwelled on that, I would have wanted a little more something about the art form. I dream of the process of that and had wished a little more time was spent on it. It was edited this way and this is how it is.”
Finally is there anything you would like to share regarding any upcoming projects you have been working on or will work on soon?
“Well, I have an album coming out, I've got a few other things planned, doing a film called “Pistolera”, ah what else. I think that makes it current.”
Thank you so much it's been a pleasure talking with you and a real experience watching your documentary.
“You can get my album called “Davi Sings Sinatra: On The Road To Romance” on Amazon. I'd like to plug that and definitely see Davi’s way.”
Stream Robert Davi’s Documentary, “Davi’s Way” on Amazon Prime now!