Half of the word “typecast” is “cast.” Versatility may be prized at Juilliard, but selling your brand is the real key to Hollywood success. Case in point: Fast-talking, tanned and toned Staten Island natives Jeremy Luke and Joey Russo began filming short videos based on their lives as struggling actors in L.A. and discovered the brand that would launch their Hollywood careers.
“Joey saw the breakdown for a character on Bones that fit him perfect,” recalls Luke, who has a Staten Island drawl that makes Snooki sound like Princess Diana. “We taped him on my BlackBerry calling his agent, when he got the audition and when he got the call that he got the part.”
The videos were a hit, and filmmakers Justin Schack and Alev Ayden offered to write and shoot a serialized season of the series, titled Turbo and Joey, following the duo's fictionalized efforts to be seen for the new Joe Pesci movie.
Unlike most web series about struggling actors, which focus on the absurdity and futility of their chosen path, this beautifully shot show focuses on the scheming Turbo (Luke) and raging teddy bear Joey's (Russo) volatile yet fiercely loyal friendship. The characters' obliviousness to their own limitations is the most hilarious and least autobiographical part of the show. Russo and Luke are gifted comedians who know exactly how to play their brand for all it's worth.
You'll see Luke in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon (opening this week) and as a series regular in the 1920s-set TNT mob show Mob City. Both also have been cast in Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys — Luke as loan shark Donnie, and Russo as … Joe Pesci.
The Tangled Web We Watch is our column on what's worth watching online. Watch Turbo and Joey at TurboandJoey.com. Read Stephanie Carrie's full interview with Jeremy Luke and Joey Russo on her blog, tangledwebwewatch.com.