Tony Nash believes that his responsibility as an actor is to find the soul of his character and take on their essence. And for this Canadian actor, he believes that the soul of every character has its seed within his own. The seed of some character’s souls sometimes closely resemble him, and others differ greatly, but the differences are always a result of a difference of choices and environment, not the substance of the soul itself. His soul and every other soul out there are made of the same stuff. This is what makes great acting possible. The potential to take on another’s soul through a character and live and breathe as him is limitless, and for that reason, Nash knew acting was the only path for him.
From the 2015 horror/comedy Secret Santa to the upcoming Audience network series Condor, Nash has shown audiences everywhere that he is not only a talented actor, but extremely versatile as well. Whether he is playing a supportive friend, like in the acclaimed movie Saving Dreams or a complicated, bilingual police officer, which he did in the film Meet the Parents, Nash remains completely committed to his characters. He not only portrays them, he becomes them, and this could not be more evident than with his work on the television show Petrol in 2016.
Petrol is an action/drama series following five reckless drivers who all work for a mysterious Employer. In the show, Nash plays Jason, an ex-military veteran and boxer who is commissioned by a mysterious figure known as The Employer to plan and execute a gold heist. When it goes wrong and his partner is killed, a plan to execute revenge on the all-powerful and elusive Employer is born.
“I was really excited about Petrol because not only would I be able to let loose with my boxing training on set, but also execute a meticulous and brutal gold heist; every actor’s dream. It sounded really exciting to me because I enjoy playing the mysterious bad guy. It comes naturally to me and I knew this would be really fun. I wanted to experience working on a high-paced action project and I knew this would be different than anything else I had done in the past,” said Nash.
The character of Jason was a very skilled boxer who would go on and lead a heist. As an ex-military commander, he knew how to think on his feet and stay composed in any situation. When the heist goes wrong and his friend gets shot in all the action, Nash’s Jason had to compartmentalize his emotions and complete the mission despite losing his comrade. It was a dramatic loss, but he had to push through to the end. He was brave and extremely determined, able to think fast of imminent danger. Nash was ready for the complex role and executed it to perfection.
“I worked with Tony on the television show Petrol, where he performed the critical role of Jason the Boxer. Tony’s character is a trained boxer and there are several long scenes in which Jason was to realistically fight an opponent, which provided something of a challenge to the actor who would portray him. On top of that, Jason is also a complicated character who must display the emotions of one whose friend is killed, leading him to desire revenge. I am proud to say that Tony performed beyond my wildest expectations. As a trained boxer, he portrayed Jason’s technique and savagery in the ring perfectly. Not only that, but he was also a fantastic, nuanced actor, bringing the emotional depth of the character to life. His performance enhanced the quality of the entire show. I was extremely impressed with his work,” said Reza Sholeh, Writer and Director of Petrol.
When Sholeh approached Nash about taking on a role as a boxer, Nash was excited about the opportunity and would not let anything get in the way of his delivering a great performance. He was eager to put to use a whole slew of other skills in addition to acting, to take on this explosive role. This is not common, and Nash says that he feels lucky to be able to play such a character. He immediately began training. He had previous experience in boxing, but to be a realistic professional boxer, he wanted to look completely natural. Having already understood many techniques from his previous boxing training, he quickly became an expert for the part, training at the Toronto Boxing Academy in Toronto. It was challenging, training for hours every day, there was a lot of sweat and exhaustion, but Nash knew the importance of the work. He used the long hours spent in the gym to get into the mood and mindset of his character. In one particular boxing scene, Nash steals the show and truly looks like a professional boxer.
“I love boxing and it is one of my favorite sports that I continue to practice even now, years after filming Petrol. I have many inspirations such as Mohammed Ali and Mike Tyson. I studied their techniques and skill and compared them to many other boxers to understand the secret to their incredible success. The day of the shoot for that particular scene, I came in early to warm up and really get into it and focus not only on the technique, but to give the character his own personality as a boxer. I hope I can once again shine in a role not only through acting, but through my other skills and hobbies as well,” said Nash.
Nash’s work was essential to Petrol and the episodes featuring Jason the Boxer. He was able to bring both his skills as a boxer and talent as an actor to the screen. It is sometimes difficult for actors to be able to do both naturally and simultaneously, but Nash did so flawlessly. He practiced and perfected both boxing and his lines, not forgetting to take the time to understand the character’s mind by finding his soul within him.
“I really liked the fast pace action of this story. I usually opt for deeper and more complex characters, but I loved how my character shared this bond with his friend through boxing and how he was suddenly taken away from him in the heist. I think that is important to portray because it shows both sides of a character. On the outside my character looked tough and intimidating and was willing to put his life at stake in a high-risk situation, but he also had another side of him. That’s important to show because it allows people to understand that there’s more to a tough guy than the way they look on the surface,” he said.
Petrol was released in February 2016 and went on to win several awards including Best Mystery at the Vancouver Webfest and Best Action Adventure at Hollywebfest.
By Sean Desouza