LOS ANGELES – Danilo Di Julio could not sit still on Oscar night.
He was nervous and excited. He had to blow off some excess energy – he headed for the gym.
He went about his routine, finally landing on the elliptical machine by the time the award for best picture was being handed out.
Watching Michelle Obama open that envelop was excruciating, said Di Julio.
“The voice in my head was like ‘please say ‘Argo’ Miss First Lady,” he laughed.
“She said it and I literally stopped moving for a second in disbelief.”
Di Julio is perhaps the only Islander who can say they’ve played a part, however small, in film that won best picture at the Oscars.
Di Julio played a French Canadian security guard in the Ben Affleck directed film.
His part was minor and he had only had one line that appeared in the final cut of the film, it was “Oui, Monsieur,” but he’s still pretty excited about being associated with such a highly acclaimed film.
“It would have been nice if (the part) had been a little bigger – but hey, I’m in “Argo,” man. That’s pretty cool. It’s still kind of sinking in,” Di Julio told the Journal Pioneer from his Los Angeles home.
He did get to break a radio though – that was fun.
“I just start going to town on this radio – smashing the heck out of it. It’s amazing how everyone on set starts turning into five-year-olds the minute you start breaking something,”
In fact he was only supposed to have one day of shooting in the U.S. but Affleck liked him enough to increase his role a bit.
At the end of his first day of filming, Affleck came to him and said, “I really like what you’re bringing to the film, I’m going to try to and layer you into it a lot more,” recalled Di Julio.
The production flew him to Turkey for an extra week of filming.
Born in Rochester, New York, Di Julio spent his childhood in Ontario and New Brunswick.
He moved to his mother’s home community of Lennox Island with his family after Grade 6. He attended Hernwood Jr. High School and Westile Composite High School.
His mother, Carol Peters, a sister and her family, and more extended family still live on P.E.I.
His father, Nevio Di Julio, passed away in 2003.
Di Julio doesn’t make it back to the Island as much as he’d like, but he savours his visits when he does.
“I miss the Island. I love the people there. I love my family in Canada. And I’m happy to be able to do some of those people proud. It means a lot to me that people back home care,” he said.
After high school Di Julio worked some odd jobs but it didn’t take him long to figure out P.E.I. might hold a part of his heart but it wasn’t going to hold up his wallet.
“I didn’t see a big future for me on the Island,” he said.
“I tried lobster fishing and stuff like that when I was in school and it was OK … but it wasn’t like the market was great for expanding new business, the economy was really rough,” he said.
So he left, and joined the military.
He did a three-year tour of duty before being honourably discharged.
The army wasn’t right for him, he said, and the acting bug had taken hold again.
He ended up playing semi-pro football for nine years, taking acting jobs on the side to build his portfolio.
Finally, in 2002, Di Julio moved to Los Angeles to fully commit to his acting career.
He met his wife, Corianna, there and the two have been making a go of it ever since.
Some days are harder than others, said Di Julio, the life of an aspiring actor isn’t always fun.
“It’s interviewing for a job three times a day, five days a week, with no guarantee you’re going to get a job. But you’ve got to drive all over the city, which is a big city, and use your gas and your time and just hope and pray and believe in yourself,” he said.
“When you do get a job it’s probably going to be for a day, or a couple of days or a week, and that’s it,” he said.
It’s tough, he added, but he loves doing it.
“Most actors – it’s like being a doctor, you’re paying your dues for a long time, and it’s eight or 10 or 12 years before you really start making any kind of living that you can be proud of, and that you’re going to be OK with,” he said.
“But you’re doing what you love every day – that’s the trade off.”
“We’re not rich, and we’re not famous, but we’re progressing well and we’re doing what we love,” he said.