Nicholas D’Agosto was a senior in high school when his opportunity to work as an actor in a Hollywood production came right into his backyard.
In 1997, an independent dark comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick called “Election” began shooting in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Director Alexander Payne – an Omaha native – decided to cast local actors for many of the supporting roles. Payne found D’Agosto at his alma mater, Creighton Preparatory School, and cast him in the small but vital role of Larry Fouch, a high school student at the end of the film who becomes suspicious of a student council election when there is a discrepancy over the final results.
Since that first taste of Hollywood, D’Agosto has never looked back. After graduating from Marquette University with degrees in History and Theater, D’Agosto went on to earn roles on episodes of “The Office” and “Heroes.” He also starred in films such as “Rocket Science,” “Extreme Movie,” and “Fired Up!”
D’Agosto’s most recent film is “From Prada to Nada,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic tale “Sense and Sensibility” with a Latino twist. In “Prada,” he plays Edward Ferris, the love interest to actress Camilla Belle’s character Nora Dominguez.
Where does your love for acting stem from?
When I was younger I knew I wanted to be an actor. I was raised Catholic, so when I was younger I had to choose a confirmation name. I chose Saint Genesius, who is the patron saint of actors. But it started when a teacher asked me to go out for competitive speech. We would go in front of judges to read poetry and dramatic pieces. I started winning trophies when I was 11. Then, I started getting into improv when I was in high school. I did as many plays as I could do. When I was 17, a movie came to town called “Election.” It was an influential part because it opened the door for me to Hollywood.
And now you’re starring in a movie with Camilla Belle. What was the experience like working with her?
Well, first of all – as everyone can see — Camilla is an absolute beautiful girl. The thing about her is that she is really intelligent and passionate about her special bicultural, bilingual life. She’s Brazilian. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish. We had a lot of fun working together. We wanted our relationship to feel very organic and natural on camera. The whole cast became friends.
In the film, Camilla and Alexa Vega play two sisters who are all about designer clothes. In real life, do you consider that a red flag when you’re dating someone?
(Laughs) Well, you want to be true to who you are and dress in a cool way and in a way that is personal to you. Whether that’s a punk rocker or hipster, it reflects who we are as human beings. It’s the way people will perceive you. If you’re too focused on what the brand name is and not on whether the brand name is actually for you, then I think it’s a turn off. That’s not to say you can’t wear nice things and still be attractive. You just have to make sure that style is yours.
Where does your style fit into all that?
I own a couple of really nice suits. Tonight I’m going to the premiere of the movie so I have to look nice in front of the cameras. But I grew up raiding the vintage clothing stores. I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve bought nicer things for myself. In my daily life when I don’t have to present myself, I’m just in a pair of pants, a t-shirt, and sandals or a tennis shoes and I’m happy.
What’s coming up next in your career?
I just hope that I get to keep growing. I have a movie coming out in the summer called “Final Destination 5.” I get to play the lead in that one. Then I’m doing a lead in a pilot for the USA Network, so we’ll see if that becomes a show. Ultimately, I just want to be able to continue growing in my career. We’ll see where that takes me.
“Election” is one of my all-time favorite comedies. I think Alexander Payne is a genius. When you were making that movie, did you realize just how special the situation you were in was?
It’s one of those stories you hear about where someone gets this big break that you never would have expected. It was such a surprise. I was very naïve. I did the movie and didn’t know how big it was going to be. I was just having fun. When the movie came out in 1999, I walked out of the premiere and people started coming up to me and giving me their business cards. That’s how it started for me. It really wasn’t something I tried to do. It just happened to me because I loved it.