Legendary Action Star Mel Novak recently took time to talk to TVGrapevine about his life and career.
Tell me about yourself and career.
I’m a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I was a strong athlete in several sports. I passed up 60 football scholarship offers and signed a pro baseball contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. My career was unfortunately cut short by a massive rotator cuff injury. I later moved to Los Angeles, where I was a working in a law office and then I was discovered by a modeling agent at the office and it lead to a successful modeling career. After that, I branched into acting. Since then, I have been blessed to have starred or co-starred in over sixty feature films.
What attracted you to them?
Great scripts, juicy characters, renowned directors, talented co-stars and powerful storylines.
What do you hope fans like about it?
All of it! I want them to be entertained and enjoy the whole film going experience.
What are some memorable moments from your career?
Starring in Bruce Lee’s final film “Game of Death,” “Black Belt Jones,” which was Warner Brothers third highest grossing film of that year, which was directed by frequent collaborator Robert Clouse of “Enter The Dragon” fame. I also starred opposite Yul Brynner in “The Ultimate Warrior,” Steve McQueen in “Tom Horn,” Chuck Norris in ‘An Eye for an Eye” and Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Aykroyd in Garry Marshall’s “Exit to Eden.”
Most recently, Greg Laurie’s faith based documentary “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” where I was featured in along with Mel Gibson, which was #3 at the box office it’s opening night. It came behind big studio movies like “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and Stephen King’s “IT” as reported by Box Office Mojo.
What was the biggest challenge?
After having played so many famous villains in so many popular films, one gets typecast. It was a challenge to break into playing heroes and more sympathetic and likable characters and to get the opportunity to break into other genres like horror, comedy, drama, science fiction instead of just action films all the time.
For example, after I played Stick the Assassin, the villain, in “Game of Death” and shooting Bruce Lee, everyone hated me and I was offered countless roles, but it was primarily villain roles in martial art action films.
What would be your dream project?
A faith-based Christian movie that has mainstream appeal, with a powerful Biblical message.
Who are some people you would like to work with?
Denzel Washington is on the top of my list!
What else are you working on?
I just had three movies released. The first one, indie filmmaker Aaron K. Carter’s dark comedy and horror anthology, “An Hour to Kill,” where I played Mr. Kinski, a mob boss who was in a gang war with his arch rival. This film had rave reviews. The second, cult filmmaker Don Glut’s horror period piece and anthology “Tales of Frankenstein,” where I play Dr. Mortality, a brilliant but mad scientist conducting bizarre experiments. In multi award-winning filmmaker Dustin Ferguson’s sci-fi action film, “Nemesis 5: The New Model,” I play the mastermind leader of the much feared Red Army. “Nemesis 5: The New Model” is now on Redbox and now is available on Walmart for pre-orders.
I also have three premieres coming up. In frequent collaborator Ferguson’s sci-fi thriller “Robowoman,” I play the scheming Dr. Michaels. “Robowoman” will have its’ world premiere on April 11th. Later this year, I starred in multi award-winning actor and filmmaker Harley Wallen’s sci-fi action film “Abeyance,” where I play a good guy, the caring and supportive executive Mr. Pomeroy opposite Scout Taylor-Compton (Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 1 & 2”) , Richard Tyson (“Kindergarten Cop”), Billy Wirth (“The Lost Boys”), Kaiti Wallen (“Betrayed”), Vida Ghaffari (“The Mindy Project”) and many more.
I was just cast in Ferguson’s thriller “Los Angeles Shark Attack,” which I look forward to working on later this spring. I have another film I start shooting in a few weeks, but I’m not at liberty to give any details just yet.
What is a fun fact that would surprise fans?
I’m an ordained minister; ministering to the homeless on skid row in Los Angeles, and to men and women in some of the worst prisons in the country throughout the United States. For the past 36 years, l have faithfully ministered on the streets of L.A., and in the chapel services at the Union Rescue Mission, Fred Jordan Mission, L.A. Mission and the Long Beach Rescue Mission. I have ministered over 9,000 services.
Additionally, as a minister, I conducted the funeral services for William “Bill” Burton, Tim Burton’s father and Jeff Connors, Chuck Connors son.
What are you watching on tv these days?
I watch mostly sports and movies.
Anything else you want to tell America?
Let’s have unity in our society, less criticism and more love.
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