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"Films have the power to inspire, educate, and influence us to be the best versions of ourselves"

An interview with DUSTIN ARDINE | DEATH CLUB | VMA Winner - November 2023

In the vast landscape of the entertainment industry, few individuals embody the essence of a true artist as profoundly as Dustin Ardine. As we delve into the intricacies of his journey, we unearth a narrative woven with passion, resilience, and an unyielding commitment to the craft of storytelling. From the tender age of 6, Dustin's destiny was intertwined with the magic of cinema, sparked by a captivating encounter with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Little did he know that this cinematic revelation would set the stage for a remarkable odyssey in the world of acting.

In this exclusive interview, we peel back the layers of Dustin's multifaceted career, exploring the pivotal moments that have shaped him into the seasoned actor and storyteller he is today. 

From early years in repertory theaters across the USA to ventures into professional wrestling and stunt work, Dustin's journey unfolds, highlighting the profound impact of varied experiences on artistic expression.


You started acting at the age of 6. Can you share a memorable experience from your early years in the world of acting that had a lasting impact on you?

When I was 6 years old I remember walking into the living room and my dad was watching the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and I came in and joined him watching it. I remember feeling in awe of what I was watching. Not just the amazing effects but also the story, the characters, the transition of Darth Vader from dark side to light side as he saves his son's life. All of it was amazing to me and I told my dad that day that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Unfortunately, where we lived at the time, there was not much in the way of acting opportunities outside of small local theatres, but I did what I could and enrolled in acting classes immediately. About a year later however, we went on a family vacation trip to Universal Studios and while we were there, they were filming an episode of The Star Trek Adventure. My father announced to everyone that it was my 7th birthday and we (my dad, two of my cousins, and myself) were chosen to be on the episode. My dad and myself were chosen to be a part of the landing party for the Starfleet and my cousins were both sent to be part of the engineering team with Scotty. My father and I got to be beamed down to a different planet where we got to fight off huge monsters and Klingon's. After we filmed the episode, they showcased the edited version in a huge theatre and the minute I saw my name up on the big screen I was hooked. For a small boy with huge dreams this was absolutely amazing and it reassured me that yes, this was indeed what I wanted to do with my life. Today I am a SAG/AFTRA member continuing to work hard to cross every bridge, climb every ladder, and earn my way towards accomplishing each and every dream that I have ever had. 

From Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, you've played a wide range of characters. How do you approach preparing for such diverse roles, and do you have a favorite type of character to portray?

One of the things I love most about acting is the ability to transform and become someone else. To see the world through someone else's eyes. To be perfectly honest, I am much more comfortable in character than I am as myself. When I am on stage or in front of a camera in character....I don't know...something clicks...and I am home. From the very moment I pick up a script to read, I am looking for something unique within the script as well as the characters within it. I know that if I can find something unique in the script and/or in the character that speaks to me, then I will be able to build upon this to create a character that the audience can relate to and one that can have some kind of impact on them. When I am entrusted to bring a character to life, that is a responsibility that I don't take lightly and I know that preparation and research is key. I am currently getting my PhD in Communications focusing in Film and Media studies and just as a scholar puts tons of research and preparation into their papers, articles, and dissertations for the best possible outcome, so too must an actor. I know that the more I research a role and the more work I put into creating a fully rounded unique character, from their unique background, story, internal feelings, to the way they walk, talk, and see/relate to the world around them. The more the audience will be able to suspend their disbelief and relate to that character, thereby directly and indirectly strengthening their connection to that character, my performance, and the story itself. As for your question of if I have a favorite kind of character to portray, again I would honestly say that I am looking for something unique. I am not interested in playing the common variety version of Hamlet. The beauty, creativity, and artistry of acting to me is that there is no one size fits all. Every artist can bring their own unique spin to every role. Even classic roles can be interpreted and reinvented in new creatively exciting ways. I recently did a film called "Death Club" which is a horror feature film currently streaming on Amazon Prime. What interested me about that project was that it used many modern-day horror trope characters. However, rather than utilizing these tropes the way you think the film will, in actuality the story takes these horror tropes and turns them on themselves for a truly unique story. This is what I love to do. If I can find within the story or that character a truly unique way to Hamlet (or any other character I play or story I tell) to life in a way that possibly no one else has ever done before then I am instantly interested.

As an actor I also see myself as a storyteller. I believe all artists are storytellers in their own unique ways. Learning different perspectives, techniques, and approaches to telling that story only strengthens your ability to communicate that story to your audience.

Having performed in repertory theaters across the USA, how has the experience shaped your approach to acting, and what unique challenges and rewards come with working in such a setting?

Having performed and studied in many repertory theaters across the USA for sure comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. For me though, I choose to focus on the positives as it has given me, in my opinion, a unique way of seeing and relating to acting from many different training techniques and perspectives. I am a trained method actor which is the acting technique that I mostly choose to follow in my work. It has been that way ever since I read Lee Strasberg's acting book entitled A Dream of Passion. However, I was a theatre major in college and have trained in many other techniques of acting including the Stanislavski's Method, The Chekhov Acting Technique, Meisner Acting Technique, and the Practical Aesthetics Acting Technique. I have also attended The New York Film Academy and the Academy of Art University training under former Hollywood leading lady Diane Baker. Additionally, I have also taken acting classes at the Actors Studio, The Groundlings Theatre, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. All of these have given me a well-rounded ideology of acting and provided me with a vast array of acting tools that I can pick and choose from in order to create the best character I can. As an actor I also see myself as a storyteller. I believe all artists are storytellers in their own unique ways. Learning different perspectives, techniques, and approaches to telling that story only strengthens your ability to communicate that story to your audience. Another positive of performing in many repertory theaters across the USA is that you get to perform in front of a wide range of audiences. All unique and amazing in different ways, which again enhances your ability to connect with and communicate with different audiences from all over.

Your decision to adopt your grandfather's last name is a unique and personal touch to your journey. How has your family's background, including your Italian and Romanian roots, influenced your perspective on life and art?

My grandfather's name was William (Bill) Ardine and he was such a huge inspiration for me growing up. He taught me to always believe in and follow my dreams. To focus on the positive parts of life and to know that even though sometimes life can be very tough, life is still a beautiful and magical thing which should never take it for granted. Unfortunately, his only son passed away young and I felt that he needed to have someone to carry on his name and his legacy. When he was on his deathbed, I asked for his permission to adopt his last name and he gave me his blessing. I always joke that I am a mutt since I have family that traces from all over the world. Lol. As you mentioned I do have family that traces back to Italy and Romania as well as some other places. When I was growing up, we traveled around quite a bit and I like to think of us as a traveling band of Gypsies. One huge positive that I took away from all this is that when you live like that, you get to experience many different places, people, and cultures. I think that this kind of exposure to so much diversity really had a positive impact and influence on my perception of beauty, art, and life in general to the world around me. I am very proud of the fact that I can see the beauty of the world all around me and it's something that I hope to be able to pass on to others through my art and my performances.    

You began acting as a way to escape your home life at a young age. Who were some of your early artistic influences, and how did they inspire you to pursue acting as a means of expression?

Unfortunately, growing up I did come from a very broken home. When confronted with these kinds of situations each person must find their own unique way of dealing with and surviving them. For me movies and TV gave me an escape from the troubles of my homelife. I could be sailing the seven seas with Sinbad, or in space with Luke Skywalker. These characters became my best friends and had a huge impact on me. I know now looking back that I was not just escaping with them, but I was also relating to them, learning from them, wanting to emulate them. I wanted to be strong like Conan the Barbarian, brave like Batman, resilient like Rocky Balboa, and so on. These characters (and the actors who portrayed them) taught me life lessons that I have continued to grow with and become who I am today. I believe that the media of Film, television, and even video games can have a profound positive impact on their audience. They have the power to inspire, educate, and influence us to be the best versions of ourselves. To never give up and always follow our dreams and always believe, just as my grandfather told me, that anything is possible. If this is a lesson that I could help teach to another person out there who may be lost, lonely, or in need of some inspiration, guidance, or friendship then all the hard work is well worth it. Some of the actors and artists who had a huge impact on me growing up ranged from actors like Dustin Hoffman (who I am named after), Robert Deniro, Marlon Brando, Tim Curry, Robin Williams, and my favorite actor of all time Russell Crowe. Outside of acting other artists who inspired me were directors George Lucas, Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, and Stanley Kubrick. Singer Michael Jackson, writers Stephen King, and William Shakespeare, and professional wrestlers Bret "Hitman" Hart and Diamond Dallas Page.

Transitioning into professional wrestling and stunt work is quite intriguing. How has your background in wrestling and stunt training influenced your approach to acting, particularly in action-oriented roles?

As a method actor I always fully commit to my roles. I have gained weight, lost weight, and done some damage to my body all for the sake of my art. Some don't utilize this style or approach when acting but for me this is the way that I allow my roles to fully take over and this includes fight choreography and all stunt work as well. When I was going up I was a huge professional wrestling fan and watched it all the time. When I was 14 years old I started training as a professional wrestler under trainers such as Dory Funk Jr., A.J. Styles, and the Ballard Brothers. I had my first wrestling match at the age of 15 and have wrestled all over the USA for many different professional wrestling organizations. Professional Wrestling trains your mind and your body in many ways that connect to the acting world. First when it comes to stunt work, Professional wrestling teaches you how to fall correctly in the hopes of avoiding serious injury. Secondly, when it comes to fight choreography, professional wrestling of course teaches you ways to appear to take a serious beating without actually taking the full punishment. Professional Wrestling and stunt work can and do hurt, but there is a difference between pain and injury. Pain for your art is nothing new to many artists, but risking long term injury is totally different. Theatrical wise professional wrestling is another form of live theatre and can help you learn to be even more comfortable performing in front of an audience. Finally, professional wrestling can help train your mind, focus, and willpower to continue to follow your goals as you have to go through gruelling physical, emotional, and mental training before you're even ready for your first match and you have to continue training to be able to continuously stay at the level you need to be. This is an important lesson not only in professional wrestling and the acting world but this lesson can also help you drive forward in our everyday lives. 

Opening and successfully running "Pro Wrestling Destination" is a significant achievement. How did your experience in wrestling promotion contribute to your overall growth, both personally and professionally?

Since I was a kid, owning and operating my own wrestling organization was always another dream of mine and after wrestling on the indy circuit for well over a decade, while continuing to act as much as possible of course, I decided to make that dream a reality when I opened "Pro Wrestling Destination" in Reno Nv. I wore many hats (possibly too many) in the company including owner, promoter, booker, sales rep, publicity agent, and the head trainer for our training school. We put on Monthly live wrestling shows where we would bring out huge names in the industry, as well as some of the top independent wrestling talent. We also had a weekly running wrestling television show. The company did very well and had a great reputation and wonderful fanbase. I would say that wearing that many hats for over a decade to make the company a success, instilled even more of a hard-working attitude within me and taught me that failure isn't something to fear. Failure can actually be the best teacher as not every idea that I had worked for the company, However, when one direction turned out to be the wrong one, I recognized it and course corrected and continued to work hard to turn that learning experience negative into a positive which finally led to the successful road. I have adapted this mind set into all aspects of my life, from my studies obtaining my bachleors, my masters, and currently my doctorate. I have also always used this philosophy in my acting. I believe with all my heart that I will make my ultimate dreams in the entertainment industry come true and I will be the actor that I see myself as. It's not a matter of if, simply a matter of when and as long as I continue to work as hard as I can and course correct when needed, I will eventually find that correct path to ultimate success. In fact, the decision to ultimately close Pro Wrestling Destination was in itself a course correction, as I realized that running it full time was just taking me away from the acting world too much. I had to make a choice and my ultimate love of acting of course won out. 

You founded "Dreamachine Productions" in 2018. What motivated you to start your own production company, and how has this venture impacted your creative process and the projects you choose to pursue?

Dreamachine Productions was started as yet another avenue to express my artistry, creativity, and to follow even more of my dreams. As mentioned, my first love has and always will be acting, however, I love to write screenplays, short stories, and I am currently working on my first novel. I love to create exciting worlds and tell engaging stories. I love to produce projects and I have even directed and edited my own projects as well. Dreamachine Productions gave me another outlet to connect with other passionate artists in the industry in the hopes of creating some magical projects together. Recently, Dreamachine Productions teamed up with My Cat Productions to produce a dramatic short film entitled Karem's Oorah starring actor/writer Raymond Karago and myself. It is a short film about the dangers of racial and religious prejudice. The film tells the story of two soldiers who, in the wake of a global tragedy, are pinned behind enemy lines. Through circumstance, they discover that they have more in common than they would have thought. Everyone from the director, to the cinematographer, the light and sound teams, the editors, the costume designer, etc. all did an amazing job on the film and in bringing this incredible story to life. My fiance Georgiana Lainfiesta is a makeup artist in the industry who was also brought on board the film as well and did fantastic. The film is in the final stages of production now and we hope to have the film out to festivals soon beginning with your amazing film festival. The next project my company is attempting to get off the ground is a psychological thriller about the dangers of pre-judging people based on unjust stigmas within our society called Proving Ground which I wrote alongside another writer friend of mine Sami Sonnesso. We are in the developmental stages and currently seeking investors.

Could you please provide some insights into your recent roles, notably your lead role in 'Ariadne,' 'Los Angeles Kidnapping,' and the award-winning short horror film 'Birth' that earned you our Excellence Award for Best Actor in one of our previous editions? What aspects of these projects appealed to you, and what drew you to them?

My most recent project was a feature film called A Walking Miracle in which I play the character of Doctor Grant. The film is a beautiful uplifting drama that tells the story of the recovery of a young man after being involved in a car crash that left him in a coma. The film is based on a true story and the screenplay was written by a fantastic writer named Slavica Bagdanov. The beautifully written story and complete characters instantly appealed to me and I knew I wanted to be a part of it from the second I put the script down. The film was directed by Daniel Baldwin and stars many known actors and actresses in the industry including Oscar Nominee Mickey Rourke, Stephen Baldwin, Denise Richards, William Baldwin, Dean Cain, and Dina Meyer. It was shot in Atlanta and everyone on board was amazing to work with and I can't wait for that film to come out to the world. Prior to that, I shot the aforementioned Karem's Oorah, which had such an important subject matter which was told in a very unique way that brought me onboard. Ariadne is a feature film that is very near and dear to my heart as it was my first lead in a feature film, and one that I have been blessed to have won many Best Actor awards for. The film is a modern-day retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Ariadne, Theseau, and the Minotaur. I am a huge Greek mythology fan and wanted to bring the characters to life so much so that I gained nearly 80 pounds for the role of the Minotaur and lived as the character on and off set for the 3 full months while we shot. The film turned out beautiful and can be purchased on Blu-Ray and DVD online. The very next film that I did after Ariadne, which I had to lose all the weight for, was entitled Birth which was a horror short about Demon Possession. In order to lose the weight, I had gained as quickly as possible I did not eat any food whatsoever for over four months. This was extremely difficult as you could assume but in the end, it was well worth it and I am very proud of the final film we made. As you mentioned, I was blessed to have won Best Actor "Award of Excellence" here at the Vegas Movie Awards™, as well as winning Best Actor at a few other festivals. We shot in the same house as the movie Insidious shot in which was a fantastic and spooky location as well as some other places in Los Angeles and Riverside California. Aside from the filming locations, one of the biggest appeals for me here was the love that my character John had for his wife Amy. John risked everything and stopped at nothing to try to save his wife from the forces of evil. Isabel Serrano, who played my wife Amy, was spectacular to work with, as was the makeup team who did an incredible job in bringing this tale to life. Los Angeles Kidnapping was a feature length action film that I was only actually hired for a small part originally for. I was cast in a comedic role in the film, which is not a genre I get cast a lot for but one I love to do. My character was this very feminine biker named Rose. Originally, the part was very small. I think no longer than a page or page 1/2 at most. However, the director told me to ad-lip the scene so I just ran with it and kept coming up with new things to add to the scene and I had the cast and crew laughing so much that the director not only made the scene longer in the film but also added a part of my scene to the official trailer for the film. Very proud of that part and my contribution to the film.   

What can audiences expect from you next? How do you plan to continue to follow the broader narrative of your career goals and artistic vision?

I am extremely excited for my next few projects that I am so proud to be a part of. Up next I am super excited to have been cast as the lead role in the newest episode of a television series called

L. I. F. E., which is an episodic anthology series set in the near future where citizens receive a hand delivered card stating their date of death. Each episode explores the recipient's remaining months left to live. I have seen a few episodes of this show and was blown away at the beautiful performances, wonderful writing, and fantastic direction. The show is a wonderful reminder about the frailty of life. I was also fortunate enough to meet some of the cast and crew at last year's Dreamachine International Film Festival in Los Angeles, including writer/creator/director Dathan Smith and I cannot wait to work with all of these extremely talented artists. Aside from that, I have also written a script that has recently been greenlit and we are hoping to film that either later this year or early next year. The film is called The Legend of Betty Knox and it tells the story of Mark Schaefer, who after his fiancé’s death, turns to ghost hunting to find answers. However, after facing bizarre, and terrifying events relating to the Legend of Betty Knox, Mark must learn what's behind the legend in order to survive. I will be playing the character of Mark and the film is set to be directed by Robert Hensley, who is absolutely amazing. Further updates on my upcoming roles can be found on my official website In addition to these projects and auditioning for new roles as much as I can, I will be continuing my classes toward my doctorate degree. I have just gotten word that three of my articles were accepted into the BEA conference happening in Las Vegas this year. Two of them actually won 1st place in their divisions which I feel so blessed and thankful for. I have also recently submitted a few other articles for publication and hoping for the best. I will also be continuing work on my novel about a wrongfully convicted man which I hope to finish this year. All and all I am going to continue to work as hard as I can each and every single day to chase down my goals, my dreams, and my success. Remember what we do in life echoes in eternity. We only have the here and the now. Don't waste it! There is no sequel! Thank you.








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