One of the nicest guys you will ever encounter in the film industry is Tazito Garcia. I’ve been lucky enough to speak with this multi-talented writer, director, actor, producer, stuntman and fitness trainer a couple of times now. Tazito or Taz as he prefers, just wrapped on his latest film, Project X-traction with the legendary Jackie Chan and wrestling icon John Cena. They are the heroes in the film and Taz is the muscle for Paddock, a mercenary played by Pilou Asbek (Game of Thrones).
Taz has always been one to pay it forward and recently helped with donations to PPE and also taken to Instagram Live for Q&A’s and free seminars for all his fans and friends. Taz’s been able to connect with over 150,000 people worldwide and get them smiling by the end of the Live broadcast. He also hosts a variety of seminars that offer new Action for Film routines (fight choreography), acting classes and in-home workouts as well as some Film Industry Actor Secrets for new actors.
With 125 credits on imdb, Taz has been putting his stamp on projects through writing, acting, directing and fight choreography. Always in top condition, his tenacity and dedication has made him a multi award winning talent that every action/thriller film searches for. I reached him at his home in Toronto to discuss his latest blockbuster and how Covid-19 has stalled his copious creative side.
“I know that you had just wrapped on Project X-traction starring Jackie Chan and John Cena. How relieved does it feel to finishing shooting it before the shut down?”
“Oh my god, I’m so happy we got it done, it was such a blast working with them all. They’re both icons and I grew up watching them, so working on set with both of them was such an amazing experience. You certainly don’t want a pandemic ruining an experience like that and we were lucky to wrap it up several months before Covid-19 hit. I was relieved that I wasn’t there when it was declared a pandemic because I would’ve been stuck for quite some time. We were filming in an isolated city called Jiujiang (in China) and there was no direct flight, we had to fly to Beijing or Shanghai and then another flight to get to the city. It was a beautiful city and we were also filming inside Mongolia, so the other side of the planet. Beautiful people inside out, great food and a great experience.”
“What was it like to work with huge stars like Jackie Chan and John Cena?”
“Working with both of them is phenomenal, you get to see the work ethic and why they are so good at what they do. To see them on screen is one thing but to be around them, their vibe, their aura and to see their heart, their passion, their dedication that they have – Jackie is in his 60’s and he’s still going hard, he’s day in and day out of the gym, has a personal trainer on 24 hr. standby and is in incredible condition. He’s in better shape than 100 eighteen year olds that I know.”
“You also worked as Paddock’s Mercenary in this film. Pilou Asbek (Paddock) is known as the very vicious assassin from Game of Thrones. He seems to bring so much energy to his performances. You also bring a lot of energy to your roles. How was the chemistry between the two of you?”
“Oh man, it was great! Originally I was cast to be a rebel leader but 18 hrs. before I was to fly out I received a call from a team leader that works closely with the director. He informed me that the director had taken a second look at my tape and decided I looked too young to play the rebel leader but they really wanted to find me another role. He said it would be less lines but I’d get to fight Jackie Chan and John Cena. I said, sign me up! I asked what the role was and he said Pilou Asbek (Game of Thrones) is the kryptonite to the heroes… but he doesn’t fight, so you’re his muscle. (Laughing) Alright, I’ll do it! Working with him was so amazing, he’s such a humble guy and such a talent. He’s pretty tall and the first day I met him, he told me he had heard I’m pretty good and to try and make him look good. It was a great experience, I was hanging out at his trailer and it was incredible to work with all those professionals.”
“How long did you work on the film?”
“I was in and out for 2 ½ months but it’s always a family feel that makes it fun and helps us to put up with a lot of things, especially when you’re so far away from friends and family. There’s times when there’s a culture clash, you’re not familiar with the food/language but you always feel safe when you’re in your family unit. You spend at least 14 hours/day with them, so it’s very sad to say goodbye to them when the film wraps.”
“When you auditioned for the role, was there anything you changed in your training to better prepare for it?”
“We were still in talks but I had a pretty good feeling that I had it but I’m going to train my butt off regardless. I’m always fit, always ready in case that opportunity does come knocking. I knew Jackie is very up on rhythm, so I worked on my timing and rhythm. I did a little homework and revised some moves that he likes, his tempo/pace while keeping in mind that he’s the hero so I’m going to get beat up. I started working on my reactions and dropping to the ground after a kick to the head or the body (laughing). It was a lot of fun.”
You never fully appreciate what it takes to do a good fight scene properly when you watch it on the screen but I certainly do now. It’s a tough gig.
“In working with such star talent, do you ever feel emboldened enough to ask for any career advice?”
“You have to wait for the right time; if you see them getting into the zone, preparing their character, their lines, wardrobe then it’s game time and you never want to approach them in those moments because you come off as an amateur. I’ve had it happen to me and I try so hard to not break out of the zone. People don’t really see the importance of preparing/becoming the character. The slightest distraction/person walking up to you can break that train of thought, so I’m very respectful of their bubble. If we’re out and having dinner, that’s a whole other story.”
Taz adds, “Being around professionals like that, you see that they haven’t taken any shortcuts, you see the amount of power they have but you also see that they’ve put in the work and the time. Being around them, you get to learn a lot very quickly just by observing.”
“You’ve written 5 scripts since the industry shutdown. Are they features or shorts?”
“There are two features and three shorts. We’ve already started the casting process with self-tapes. That would consist of the actor setting up a camera in their home and shooting the audition as they would in a casting studio. We’re approx. halfway through the process of securing the lead roles and are still trying to fill the smaller roles. I will say that actors are very hungry to work and it’s great to see so many that really love what they do.”
“Did you have to adjust your script in regards to safety precautions surrounding Covid-19?”
“I kept that in mind, it will be at least 6 or 7 months before we can expect to see a large scale crew on set together. We have a few car chases, a few action scenes; it’s going to be great! We have three female bank robbers as the leads. With the car chases, we can use vehicles with the camera cranes/chase car cams that follow the action while you’re in the car, so you’d be safe. We have up to four people in four different cars.”
“Can you give me a logline for the script?”
“I can give you a sneak peek until we perfect the logline. It’s about 3 female robbers, that through a series of twists and turns you realize if they are truly good or bad.”
“I love a good twist in a movie, it can completely change the flow of a character or storyline. What can you tell me about the other stories?”
“I put together a Rom-com, an action thriller and we have a documentary that’s being finalized now. It’s based on true martial arts and a corruption scheme that we’re shining a light on.”
“What’s your favourite dessert to indulge in?”
“Agghh, oohh… that’s the worst question to ask someone with a sweet-tooth (laughing). Mmnn… you can’t go wrong with chewy chocolate and macadamia nut cookies!”
“Since you do know so much about fitness and nutrition, how do you feel about those fasting diets?”
“You know – it’s not a one size fits all. You have to understand your body and what’s underneath the shell, everything from the hormones, the blood work and everything else, the right fit. If you go through yoyo diets or intermittent fasting, keto and this and that – people will get on and get off just as fast and they wonder why there’s no consistency with the results. It’s a matter of having a vision of what you want to achieve; are you competing, are you looking to shred or are you looking to bulk up? Generally speaking, if you fast, it’s not a bad thing, it can help you to break down some of the fats and is a good tool to self cleanse, but you have to have self-control. Don’t overdue it, balance is key.”
“How would you feel about somebody else directing your screenplays?”
“It depends on my script because when I was directing/acting, you have to break character. If you have a great cinematographer, they can be your eyes and ears when you’re in front of the camera, otherwise you’ll be in an emotional state – then Cut! You have to break character, look at the footage and decide if it looks good or – let’s do it again; Taz has to switch hats and go back behind the camera and be who I was before checking the footage. As long as you have someone that has that vision and creativity I’m perfectly okay with it but when it comes to action, I’m very picky with it and I’ll put my foot down and be in charge of that department.”
“One of your earlier films, Dead End also had a strong female cast. Have you always been a fan of strong female characters?”
“One hundred percent! My mom and my grandmother were both extremely strong and extreme heroes for me growing up so I have a lot of respect and appreciation for females. I remember being on a set in Malaysia shooting a movie and I was sitting down with the producer when he asked, ‘Taz, what are you shooting now/what are you working on?’ I showed him a trailer of Dead End, which was about female assassins and he said ‘Oh my god, this is great! What are your plans!?’ I told him I wanted to make a TV spinoff from the short film and potentially a feature film. He turns to me and says, ‘here’s the plan; I’m willing to put 20 million and my partner’s coming in from LA in a couple days, I think he’ll match me. Here’s the plan – let’s make a feature film first and then the spinoff TV show based on the feature because you can’t make money off a short.’ He then gets on the phone and says, ‘hey babe, there’s a super talented guy sitting in front of me, I’d like you to talk to him to see if you’d be interested in the lead role.’ I picked up the phone and it was Scarlet Johansson. She was super sweet, it was 10 yrs. ago and at a time when women were perceived as ‘not being able to sell out box offices’, Scarlett was ready to jump on board – but her agent had just signed her to a contract working on the Avengers franchise. The good news is, this film created a lot of waves and inspired many more women to go out searching for those roles. We saw Atomic Blonde come out, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, which is really cool.”
“You’ve been involved in giving back through a charity that provides PPE to front line workers. Can you tell me how you became involved in that?”
“Absolutely! Giving back is one of the biggest things I’ve always been involved in, even with low budget movies such as Dead End and Briefcase. We gave all the proceeds from the screenings to the Missing Children’s Society, Sick Kids Hospital & Princess Margaret Cancer Society Lodge. It’s always been embedded in me to give back and when I saw what was happening around the world, I wanted to see if there was a way to get involved. I donated some money but also put in some time to local kitchens that were giving food to people that had just lost their jobs. I was also able to order a large amount of masks for first line workers (grocery store clerks), nurses and doctors. It’s one small token of appreciation to say thank you. I’ll never forget a bumper sticker I once read; to the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”
“If you could try any extreme sport for a day and live, what would it be?”
“I’m not sure what it’s called but I think it’s a flying squirrel suit where you can go flying. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to try off a cliff or somewhere. In Dubai, they have one of the tallest buildings and they jump off the edge.”
“When is Project X-traction due to be released?”
“It was actually due out already but with everything going on, it’s been pushed back and the tentative date is now sometime around the Chinese New Year.”
Tazito Garcia had left me a little trivia regarding the future blockbuster – Stallone was originally suppose to star in Project X-traction with Jackie Chan but due to scheduling conflicts, John Cena had to fill in for the role and Stallone went to make Creed II.
I for one cannot wait to see Taz slug it out with both Jackie and John. Let’s rumble!