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Worcester Magazine

Liz Fay

Apr 6, 2022

Forest Quaglia never knew he’d become a professional actor. But at the age of 28, his self-written short film, "The Investigators," has been nominated for “best Massachusetts short film” at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival April 13-16.

According to Quaglia, a Leicester native who also stars in "The Investigators" as Detective Norfolk, “I like to get really crazy, emotionally demanding, I like doing something that challenges me. I think that’s real fun because you can’t always do that in real life, so, anything I can’t do in real life is my favorite role to play. Action and adventure, for me as an actor, is what gives me the passion to pursue this. It’s being able to experience the parts of life that you can't always pursue everyday”.

"The Investigators" is a screwball-detective-comedy, which unpacks the many mishaps caused by the intense Detective Norfolk and his eccentric partner, Detective Chance, played by Will O’Connor.

Quaglia and O’Connor met in 2020 while filming "The Bootlegger," a documentary-style drama created by Newport-based Black Duck Productions LLC. Quaglia stars as main character Charles Travers, captain of The Black Duck rum-runner, alongside O’Connor, who plays supporting role, John Goulart.

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“We clicked on and off screen. While on set we had a lot of time to talk about wanting to be more than we are right now, and if we have to make our own stuff, then so be it,” said O’Connor.

A year after Black Duck producers called it a wrap on the Rhode Island set, Quaglia finished writing the script for "The Investigators." When it came time for casting his co-star, Qualigua reached out to O’Connor, who, after reading the script, accepted the role without hesitation.

O’Connor, an acting student at The Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, says Quaglia's “work first, play second” attitude was the most memorable aspect of working together.

“He’s one of the most driven people in the industry that I’ve come across. (Quaglia) said ‘if we’re gonna do this, we’re really gonna do it’. I don’t see him not succeeding at what he wants to do. He obsesses about it all the time, he’s watching film on film almost like a professional athlete, and watches how people react to certain things. He definitely carries himself way differently when playing characters. As soon as our AD (assistant director) says ‘rolling,’ he totally flips his facial expressions and everything,” O’Connor said.

Growing up, Quaglia says he never identified as an academic or took well to a classroom.

“Even in high school, I was never cut out for a conventional lifestyle. I didn’t do well in school, I didn’t like structure or being told what to do. I dropped out of high school and got my GED, shortly after. I went to college for criminal justice thinking I wanted to get into law enforcement, but that didn't last long. I knew I didn’t like the 9 to 5 stuff, so I would switch jobs probably every year,” Quaglia said.

After withdrawing from Wachusett Community College, Quaglia spent his twenties bouncing between industries like construction, auto mechanics, armed security, gunsmithing, retail, sales, and e-commerce before finding his current position working in solar energy as sales manager at Sunrun.

In 2020, Quaglia honed his business experience to begin developing his Worcester-based production company, Forest Quaglia Studios, which has three short studio films to date. "The Investigators" was Quaglia's first studio film to wrap production by late 2020, followed by the December 2021 wrap of dark comedy short "Body of Ashes" and action-thriller short "Agent Stone" in February 2022.

Since expanding his film experience beyond acting, Quaglia claims filming is still his favorite step in his creative process, but has learned to prioritize writing and producing before anything else. “Everything I put into producing is so I can act more. I basically became a producer to make movies for myself to star in,” Quaglia said.

Quaglia credits his athletic background in mixed martial arts, basketball, football and baseball for his ability to fulfill the high-energy and stunt-filled action roles like Captain Charlie Travers and Detective Norfolk that he so desires.

According to Quaglia, playing the role of a 1920’s prohibition-era Coast Guard captain-turned-bootlegger Charlie Travers has been his favorite role to portray thus far — mostly because of the stunts.

“Filming 'The Bootlegger' was kickass,” Quaglia said. “I learned how to drive a Model T vintage truck, pilot a small speedboat, ride horseback, and was shot at by a Coast Guard machine gun”.

Still in the developmental stages of his film career, the self-taught actor and producer has been cast in six lead roles and two supporting roles. Apart from his own short films, Quaglia stars as Zach in "Damon’s Revenge" alongside "Saving Private Ryan" actor Tom Sizemore, and plays supporting role Brayden in "Secrets by the Shore," which premiered on Lifetime Movie Network March 18.

Quaglia also plays the voice of Jackpot in "Junkyard Dogs," a supporting role as Ryan in "A Criminal Affair" and a lead role Pick in "Body of Ashes." Release dates for these films have yet to be announced.

Quaglia credits his acting career for growing him into a “go-getter” as an adult. “I’ve realized we as humans have a lot of power to create. We really do create the lives we want, and I just decided if I want this life, I really have to put in the work. With the amount of competition that’s out there, if I’m not willing to grind like the 1%, then I can’t have what they have,” Quaglia said.

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