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Dominic Zamprogna Talks on His Emotional Turn in the Film ‘To The Moon and Back” & His Desire To Return To GH

Photo: JPI

If you’ve been missing Dominic Zamprogna (Ex-Dante Falconeri) on your screens on General Hospital, you will have the chance to see him virtually this Wednesday night, June 17th starting at 7 p, m, PST, when the fan favorite stars in the short film, To the Moon and Back. The short can be seen as part of the 2020 Film Invasion Los Angeles, “Eclectic Spotlight” screening block.

To the Moon and Back stars Zamprogna as a grieving man who finds solace in the presence of his wife and daughter in the moments leading up to having to eulogize his mother. It was written and directed by GH production associate, Nate Hapke.  To catch the screening and the Q&A that follows, click here to get a free ticket. (Note: after reserving your ticket, you will receive an email 30 minutes prior to the event from the festival to allow you to view the film and the Q&A)

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Zamprogna to not only discuss his pivotal role in the film, and working with his former GH colleague, but to find out: where he stands on wanting to return to his role as Dante on the ABC daytime drama series. After exiting the series in 2018, he has returned a few times to pave the way to open the story up for his on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu) who has been moving forward on-screen with a relationship with Dustin played by Mark Lawson. If a Dante return could prove imminent later this year, or next year, how would the multi-Daytime Emmy-nominated actor want to see the story play out? He shares his views.

Always candid, refreshing and thought-provoking, here is what Dominic had to say about grief, an emotion that is so prevalent in his film, plus the time we have been collectively facing as a people through a pandemic, and the protests to bring about change to systemic racism, and more.

Photo: JPI

This week on June 17th there is an upcoming virtual screening of To the Moon and Back which is a great way to draw some eyeballs to the film and your performance.

DOMINIC:  Yes, they got into a film festival, and because everything is the way it is, we have to do it all online, which is kind of neat, I guess.

And there is a Q&A you will be a part of …

DOMINIC:   … I don’t expect anyone to want to sit and listen to me talk about what motivated me to do something or choices made or any of that kind of stuff, but if Nate Hapke wants me there, I’ll be there.

Photo: Nate Hapke

In this short film, the set-up is that Robert, the role you play, has lost his mother?

DOMINIC:  Yes, he lost his mother, and it is right before he is about to give the eulogy at the funeral, which I never would have been able to do.

I had to do a eulogy for my grandmother. It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do.

DOMINIC:  I did it for my grandmother too, and I couldn’t believe my dad asked me to do it, but I did it, and I totally broke down.  I was fine right up until I started doing it, and then I lost my s**t and I’m like, “Never again.”

I had the same thing happen.  I just lost it!

DOMINIC:  It’s the gravity of certain moments.  It’s kind of like what we are going through now.  I was talking to my kids the other morning about George Floyd, and I started crying, and they were like, “Why are you crying?”  I’m like, “Because this is so awful that this is happening to people just because of the color of their skin and has been happening for so long,”   I think people in our industry are thought of as soft in a sense, but in another sense, you’re not, because you get beat down over and over and over again, and you get rejected and rejected and rejected, and you keep coming back for more until you break it down and you succeed, but you also feel a lot.  You feel all of that rejection and you feel other people’s pain because you’ve got to tap into that stuff, and man, the gravity of moments like giving a eulogy and explaining the state of the world, and trying to imagine other people’s pain, ….you just feel it all sometimes.

Photo: JPI

So, how did it come about that you wound up in To the Moon and Back? Did Nate just say, “Will you do this part?”

DOMINIC:  Nate works at GH, and I’d see Nate every day, and Jason Thompson (Ex-Patrick, now Billy, Y&R) would always come up to me and say, “Nate did another movie!”  I’d say to Nate, “You’re killing it man.  Good for you.”  He just writes things and shoots it, writes things and shoots it.

I’ve got to say; I have great respect for people who grind it out and just do it.

DOMINIC:  I can’t even tell you the number of people I’ve known since growing up who tell me, “I’m writing a book, I’m writing a book,” you know, and they still don’t have a book.  Not that that is an easy thing to do.  Now, Maurice Benard’s (Sonny, GH) book came out, and he’s got a lifetime in there.  As for Nate, the fact that somebody could: complete a script, never mind shoot it and put it together and release it is quite amazing.  He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of passion.  So, I said, “Hey man, if you’ve ever got anything that you’d like me to do, I would love to do something with you.”  When he sent me this script, I thought, “Wow!”  We shot this in 2019, and my mom passed away in 2013, and I think he just took a little bit of what happened to me, and what he thinks would happen to him if he were to lose his mom.  At first, I kind of didn’t want to do it because I was like, “This is a little too close to home,” and I don’t want to just be a blubbering crybaby.

Photo: TotheMoonandBack

That’s an interesting point.  Do you consider that when deciding roles you want to play, in how emotional it will be for you to portray?

DOMINIC:  I just think it’s more interesting to not watch people cry.  Leading up to, or the moment after, or in the moment the person doing everything they can to not cry, to me, is more interesting than the person eventually succumbing to it because you know, we all do, but we very rarely do it in front of other people.  It’s a very private thing for people to break down, especially to lose it entirely.  Again, over the course of the last few months, we are all probably getting in touch with our feelings a bit more than we have in the past, but typically I don’t think it’s something I want to see in a movie or in a character, but the struggle you do.  You want to see the layers on top of it, or the rock bottom beneath it.  But in To the Moon and Back, we did that and I am proud of the work.

There was a screening awhile back for the movie, did you watch it with the audience?

DOMINIC:  I didn’t watch it because I’ve been to a lot of screenings and things that I’ve done, and I always find it kind of awkward to be watching it with people, but I think that’s a common thing.

Photo: Gerard Sandoval

Has your perspective changed at all during the pandemic?  Many people have become very creative and on social media with the down time they have had while TV and film production had been shut down.

DOMINIC:  What’s been interesting over the course of these past few months, I’ve started to put myself out there a bit on social media.  I’ve started to write children’s short stories, poems and things, and I wrote one a few years ago.  I was so scared of people reading it that I didn’t tell anyone except my family, and I put a fake name on it and all of that sort of stuff.  Then, when this pandemic happened, I was like, “screw it”.  We’ve got to put things out there.  The fear of that is so in your own mind, and the next time that I have a chance to watch something with people, I will sit and watch it with them because I think it’s important to feel proud of what you did.

In a recent article with ABC Soaps in Depth you shared you would be interested in coming back fulltime to GH?  Do you still feel that way?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, I’ve felt the pull for a long time.  You only ever want to leave because of your situation, and personally, I was going through some things, and the one thing that I have relied on for my whole career is my confidence and my instinct.  The minute you start questioning either of those things, you’ve got to take a step back.  That’s what I was doing.  I’ve never had a job for as long as I had GH, and I went through a whole gamut of feelings. There are highs and lows and in-betweens.  There were too many instances where for whatever reason; I wasn’t feeling confident in my abilities anymore.  I started stressing out a lot and I was like, “Why am I stressing out?”  I thought I should take it as the time to leave. I thought, “If I don’t walk away for a bit and right the ship, then I don’t know when I am going to do it.”  When you have a family, it’s important to have a job, but it’s also important to be a good dad and husband when you come home, too.  That was one element of it.  The other element was that there was always a desire to play a bunch of different roles. The more you create the more fun your job is. GH has also been super fun.  I have always had great times up on stage there.  But, I had never played a character that for that long.  I was like, “Maybe what I need is just to walk away from this character for a bit and try other roles.”  The other element to that is that you have to know casting directors.  I didn’t know many casting directors because I came down from Canada with the job at GH, and if you’re not known by people outside of the soap world in the industry, often you aren’t always presented choices to play these other roles to satisfy these other desires you have an artist.  My manager was like, “Listen, if you don’t take the opportunity now to kind of get into rooms and meet people, it gets harder and harder the longer you wait.”  So, we just decided to take a chance.

Photo: JPI

When did you realize you wanted to come home to Port Charles?

DOMINIC:  I had kept in touch with everybody at GH, but since last September, I started feeling like, “I kind of miss my buddies.” I miss my family over there, and I miss the day-to-day of what GH was to me.  It was a second home, and again, I never experienced that on a show before.  I miss Maurice (Benard), I miss Lisa (LoCicero), I miss Chad (Duell), and I miss the crew.  I get emotional thinking about the crew because they were all buddies of mine.  They’re your friends.  I was lucky to have people that I work with whom I called “friends”.  So I texted Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) in late February.  Over a chat, I told him how I felt.  So, we will see what happens.  There is nothing in place right now, but he knows where my heart is, and, I think there is interest on their part too.  We will see what happens.  At this point, there are no set plans for my return.

What was that like being directed by Nate Hapke and seeing him wear that hat, when you see him in another role in his behind the scenes job at GH?

DOMINIC:  It was great.  Nate is a young guy, but when I was his age, I don’t know that I would have been able to direct anybody, yet alone experienced people.  Nate listens, and he knows how to talk to actors.  We rehearsed a lot.  The crew was phenomenal, man.  Nate had everything taken care of.  We got everything done in the amount of time that he said we would get it done in.  It was a great filming day with really positive people coming together to create something.

Photo: JPI

In the film, how does Robert’s wife, (played by Danielle Rayne) and daughter (played by Julie Romano) figure into the story?

DOMINIC:  Basically, he’s getting ready to do this eulogy, and doesn’t think he can do it, and the wife comes in and says, “Yeah, you can, and we will be there supporting you,” and then the daughter comes in.  He is kind of taken aback by how composed she is and the way it kind of struck me doing it is that my real-life daughter is 9, and on a daily basis, I can’t believe how grown-up she is becoming.  In the film, Julie is way older than my daughter, which made me feel old, (laughs) but it was cool, because I just imagined my daughter being that age or the amount of pride you have in your kids because those scenes become about her.  They don’t become about him.  They become about the strength and beauty of his daughter, and how she is able to help him kind walk out of there, and know that he will get through it, because he will be able to look out and see them supporting him.

Do you want to do more indie films?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, I love it.   I had a job for a long time at GH, and it allowed me to be a bit choosey when I left.  So, you don’t just do any indie movie that comes your way, but there are some really cool ones.  There is some other stuff that isn’t independent such as is network TV.  There was role that came down to me and one other guy and didn’t go my way, but that happens all the time in Hollywood.

Photo: JPI

If now you were to go back to GH, what do you think would be great story for Dante because he left kind of messed up? There is a lot to play with Mark Lawson (Dustin) there and now involved with Lulu (Emme Rylan).  I think it gives you more potential story now, actually, by the fact that you went away.

DOMINIC:  100%.  However, I think that would have changed if I had stayed based on conversations that I had with Frank. They had things coming down the line that I think they were wanting to do.  So, it wasn’t about, “Oh, they’re not writing for me.  I’m leaving.”  That wasn’t why I left.  I think everyone on that show has to go to the backburner at some point.  There is a lot of cast.  You’ll see Michael Easton (Finn) on there for four weeks, and then all of the sudden, you won’t see Michael Easton, and same with Roger Howarth (Franco).  There are staples like Maurice, Laura Wright (Carly) and Steve Burton (Jason), which is like any show, where you have your top 3-5 people.  I think with Brook Lynn (Amanda Setton) back on the canvas that is really interesting.  Amanda Setton is phenomenal in the role.  I’ve never met her, but from the stuff I’ve seen, I think she has got a really great energy.  There is story there with Emme and Mark, and that I think writes itself.  In my opinion (and I have no idea what they may want to do at some point) you either bring Dante back still messed up, or you bring him back completely cured, and he is better off than he was before he left.  That means; do you put him back with Lulu? Do you not put him back with Lulu?  Does is become like a long path back to each other?

Photo: JPI

Oh, my God!  There could be a 5-year quadrangle coming!

DOMINIC:  Well, at least it would be exciting, and I think people would dig it.  I think it would be what soaps are about: the drama and the amount of lives that would be affected by it.  Then, do you bring Dante back as a cop?  Is he not a cop anymore?  Is he undercover?  Maybe he says he doesn’t want to be a cop at all.  Maybe he does come back darker.  I don’t know.  I think there are more options right now than when I left.

Have you been following the show with Maurice and Max Gail’s (Mike) performances in the Alzheimer’s storyline?

DOMINIC:  Yes, because of what clips that people post on social media.   It’s great.

Photo: JPI

It would be great to see you back in scenes with Maurice as father/son.

DOMINIC:  I think the interesting thing is the volatility of our on-screen relationship which could make it exciting.  The minute things get too comfortable, and Dante and Sonny may be sounding too much life father and son, then you have something happen that sets them apart.

Photo: IMDB

As we wrap, what would you say to people getting ready to view the film To the Moon and Back? Will we need Kleenex?

DOMINIC:  Yes, I know people who have lost somebody will feel that way.  I know grief is a really interesting, awful, thing that everyone has to go through, or will have to go through; whether it is your dog grandmother, or your mother; in my case, my grandparents and my mother.  Grief is such an interesting thing because everyone handles it differently.  It’s real, and it’s human, and it is a story influenced by real experiences, truly.  I played a schizophrenic in movie 15 years ago, and I interviewed a bunch of people to prepare for the role, You get so uncomfortable interviewing people who are in the throes of that illness and maybe who are too medicated, or maybe not medicated enough, and it got into me. I was like, “This is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” because it is such a nightmare.  I remember doing a scene, and one crew guy said to me afterwards (he was almost crying), “I’ve never seen anyone do what you just did.” He said, “My sister is ill, and that was her right there.”  I’m like, “Wow.”  You kind of just hope people see it and say, “I know what you’re feeling,” or, “I can’t imagine what that would feel like,” and it’s not to depress people.  It’s not like you can say, “Hey, come watch this cool movie about someone’s mom dying and him giving a eulogy,” it’s hard to give an exciting type of plug for it, but it’s a human story, and I think those mean a lot to people, and that is why you should check it out.

So, will you be checking out the virtual screening and Q&A featuring Dominic for the short film, To the Moon and Back?  Do you want Dante to return to Port Charles? If so, what do you hope the story would be? Comment below. But first, check out the trailer for the film.

To the Moon and Back – Trailer from Nate Hapke on Vimeo.

Leave a comment | 16 Comments
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16 Comments

  1. Su000

    June 14, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Thing is’
    Dominic Zamprogna walked out of GH by his own will.
    (perhaps he should have aimed for recurring)
    anyways; it seems the producers do not look lightly
    upon the quitters.
    Time will tell but I’m not holding my breath..
    It would be good to see him once again on GH.

    • Ann

      June 15, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Would love to see him return to G.H.

      • Diane

        June 16, 2020 at 11:24 am

        No he be big in movies but vist as a guess b nice

    • Diane

      June 16, 2020 at 11:22 am

      Yes he better in movies than GH but a guess vist but nice

      • Su000

        June 16, 2020 at 9:12 pm

        I would rather have ‘Brian’ back than Dante..
        Dante would be much better if not with irritating ish Lulu..
        Brian is 80% better than Dante..
        Bring Brian back..he’s the exciting son..

        Dant and Lul are like watching wallpaper.
        they are totally wornout..time for that couple to dieoff.

        • Diane

          June 17, 2020 at 8:42 am

          Who is Brian I not remember him who he play on G H ?

  2. Lynne Shaw

    June 14, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Waiting patiently for Dante to return to Port Charles. Miss you!

    • Su000

      June 18, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Diane..
      ooops!
      I meant Bryan=Morgan Corinthos.
      Between Sonny’s 2 sons,
      I like Morgan way above Dante.
      I want Morgan back more-so than Dante..

  3. aria

    June 14, 2020 at 11:41 pm

    Like you both said there’s plenty for Dante in story, so its a win win , bring him back and goodness grief I need my GH, I’m dying here!

  4. Loraine sabol

    June 15, 2020 at 12:38 am

    A lot of actors leave roles to persu other characters it would be nice to see him play dante

  5. Timmm

    June 15, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Never been a big fan of Dante. The actor can act. Perhaps its a combination of his lack of good stories and he just doesnt look like a product of Sonny and Olivia. But, him coming back, I would put him with Brook. Maybe she can add a spark with him? Lulu would be furious and that helps her have something to do.

  6. Diane

    June 16, 2020 at 11:19 am

    I think it great you make this movie as good in GH see the short film it was good happy you doing good in life

    • Diane

      June 17, 2020 at 8:12 am

      Hope everyone wish him good & happy career and home life I enjoy him on GH

  7. Patrick

    June 16, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    `right off the top; Ned, Valentin, Neil, Chase, Julian, ok yeah, prop some Jax

    ^^^these are @GH Magnate’ should @GH throw bone ‘ Scotti AND Scorpio

    one would think that General Hospital would return Dante… marriage material, still is’ HOT ME OUT

    lets do a dullard sweep : non existant : Sonny, Jason, Finn, Michael, Peter, Franco
    endless blah Curtis, Brad, Lucas, Spinelli, and whomever is left … God @ABC/Disney have no imagination

    let’s see Dante return with Skye Quartermain’IA !!!! ???? yes, wake up Jax wake up the Quartermaine’ wake UP Port Charles…. snooze button locked down?!?! well yeah, if you think Jason and Sonny w/Carly and Sam…there you have it…the most boring of the 4 serial

    • Patrick

      June 16, 2020 at 8:15 pm

      you don’t oft read of actors’ reaching out for their employment. IT JUST SUCKS because @General Hospital… has a lot of bad actors. I truly appreciate that Mr. Z wants to work @. if all fan voice reached.. he’d be back working. I wish you the best

      argh! think Robert Palmer-Watkin, Billy Miller, Jeffrey Parise, brandon barash, Nathan West, Bryan Craig, heck even Matt Cohen… the list is endless of quality over blow hard dullard

      Dante character always top shelved; this guy’ ACT

      • Diane

        June 17, 2020 at 8:45 am

        You a nut as there more good on G H that you guy

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