Teo Celigo is the kind of actor who likes to take big swings. From his lead role as Jacob in the multiple award-winning indie film (at the Festigious International Film Festival and LA Shorts Awards) That’s our thing, what if… to the feature film Dracula: The Impaler, Celigo’s leading man looks might have led him down a “safer” path if not for his inclination to test himself. Teo actively pursues roles that offset his prior work. Having felt his interest peaked about the film Killing Joan, he auditioned for the film’s writer/director Todd Barto. Barto attributed a poetic quality to Teo’s interpretation of Anthony in this dark action crime tale. Noting his affinity for this film and his career in general, Celigo relates, “Todd gave us space to explore when it came down to it. The whole process moved fast and there wasn’t much time for discussion. It’s why casting is so important. You cast the people you cast because you trust what they bring to the part. We had a read through of the script and we were on set within a week. The Crow was one of my favorite films growing up so I had an idea of what he was going for. He pointed me to H.P. Lovecraft, whom I never read, especially Call of Cthulhu. The idea of dreams and the supernatural permeates throughout Killing Joan. I think with every project you work on, you become a little more confident. You find ways to surprise yourself and always seek to do things differently so that you don’t repeat yourself.”
Todd Bartoo’s Killing Joan is a gothic urban thriller reminiscent of the 1994 classic film The Crow starring Brandon Lee (son of the iconic Bruce Lee). The film’s namesake is played by Jamie Bernadette (of I Spit on Your Grave; Déjà vu and the New York Film Award Winning film Smothered by Mothers) who appears as a mob enforcer. After a betrayal by her boss Frank (David Cary Foster of Showtime’s Golden Globe Winning Series Dexter), Joan is resurrected and finds herself the beneficiary of supernatural abilities which she uses to enact her vengeance on the criminals who set her demise in motion. The yin to Joan’s punitive yang is accessed through her love interest Anthony [Celigo]. A counselor for at-risk youth, Anthony’s relationship history with Joan originated in his attempts to help her avoid the very end she met. Celigo’s portrayal of Anthony is grounding for the cast (which also notably includes Erik Aude of Christopher Nolan’s triple Oscar Winning film Dunkirk) and the film. With so much of the story based on otherworldly events and characters, Anthony is the anchor which reminds the audience that we don’t exist in that world, thereby giving more gravitas to the shock of these unnatural events that occur.
While Anthony is a strong moral compass for the film, Teo communicates that he was careful to not manifest him as a “perfect” person. The actor divulges, “Just as with any performance you’re trying to find nuances in a character’s behavior. I knew Anthony to be a ‘good guy’ but everyone has darkness in them and it was important to find that and to adequately expose it in the film. Joan was one piece of that. She was also somebody he tried to help just like any of the kids in his care. He developed feelings for her and I think deep down he feels he’s ashamed of it. That’s sometimes the price people who give a lot have to pay.” The depth and flaws of Anthony’s nature are subtly implied while his actions in the film establish his desire to be the best version of himself that he can attain. In presenting this form of a dark character’s love interest, Teo has rebuked a one-dimensional comic book approach for something far more interesting; a human being who desires to be a positive force while acknowledging his own shortcomings. Anthony is a character who takes many twist and turns in Killing Joan and is key to the gratifying end of the film…but no spoilers here. In other hands, Anthony might have been far less captivating than the (thankfully) unvarnished version fashioned by Teo Celigo.