The Passion of a Lifetime – Local man plays alongside Tom Cruise in new film
It almost took Rob Catrini a lifetime to figure out he needed to pursue acting, a secret passion he nursed since childhood. But when the inspiration came, it struck like lightening.
“My dad died when I was 10, so my mom raised four boys in Brooklyn by herself,” Rob recalled. “We were just broke poor. There was no money, and I never even considered acting as an option.”
Rob remembers standing on the steps of an acting studio as a child, wondering how much it would cost to get in the door. But years flew by, and eventually, Rob and his wife Peg moved to Florida to open a business.
One day, the two sat in a theatre watching Out for Justice, and Rob was struck by the simplest yet grandest of ideas: If they can do it, maybe I can too. As the credits rolled, he sat bolt upright and called out an actor’s name as if he could imagine stepping into his shoes. Peg, among other guests, turned to look at the suddenly inspired man.
“I told Peg about my idea, and she didn’t even hesitate,” Rob said, the happiness still in his voice. “She told me she thought I’d be great, and that was the first time I ever told anyone.”
The Catrinis knew, if Rob chased this dream, they would eventually have to move to Los Angeles.
“We’d just moved across the country to start a business,” Rob said, “and now I was suggesting something 99 percent of the population would say is absolutely crazy.”
But they were in for the ride. The couple began reaching out for various connections, and Rob found his way to the University Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. For his first class, he walked into an 80 to 90-seat theatre and waited for his turn. The scene was heavy, and Rob quickly got lost in it. By the time he finished, he had surprised even himself.
“My theatre teacher said: ‘I don’t know what you do, but if you give this up, you’re a fool,’” he recalled.
Rob began studying and taking classes twice a week. He auditioned for plays and commercials and began picking up lead roles. The momentum continued until he ran out of places to look. That’s when his acting coach asked for a word.
“She pulled me aside after class and said: ‘I don’t want to see you here next time,” he recalled, still with a touch of shock in his voice. “You have a real shot of making a career out of this, and it’s time you take this training forward.”
There were tears, and Rob walked out of his last class. But before he moved to L.A., he had one last role to knock out. He wouldn’t move to the big city without a top credit under his belt, and Law & Order was the biggest in his area. But he had a plan.
Every day for more than a year, Rob bought two dozen roses, handed them to his mother and sent her up to two Law & Order casting legends. The tradition continued, filling the office with that sweet smell, until one day, Rob’s mom got into an elevator and a woman responded: “I assume those are for me. Tell your son he doesn’t have to do this anymore.”
By the time Rob was home, he had a call waiting from his agent. The two women invited Rob to read for the part, and soon he had his role. It was time for the West Coast.
Rob quickly picked up parts, including a role in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. But his most recent project put him side-by-side with Tom Cruise. Playing Col. Moorcroft in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Rob has several key one-on-one scenes with the mega star.
“When we met for the table reading, he came over to me, shook my hand, and gave me the typical Cruise smile before he said: ‘You got it,’” Rob said.
But Rob still had work to do. When the director threw in an unannounced scene, Rob prepared his best work and walked onto an intimate set with Tom.
“It was heavy, emotional – one of those deep-end scenes,” Rob said.
But Tom and the director loved it. Tom had taken such a liking to the Catrinis, in fact, that he invited them to a private viewing party for Spectre. And on opening night, the two expressed their thanks for Rob’s work.
“They told me they were really happy with my work and what I did with the part,” he said. “With that, I think I’ll keep going after this acting thing.”
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is out in theatres at press time. For more information about Rob Catrini, please visit www.imdb.com.