Nick Mathews is an actor who was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. He studied at Rutgers University and the William Esper School of acting before advancing his education with Masterclasses at Beverly Hills Playhouse East.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Nick back in the summer of 2019. Since then, he has been extremely busy with acting and activism. His movie, An Imperfect Murder, was released on Netflix, January 13th, 2021. An Imperfect Murder is a psychological thriller where Nick Mathews’ character, Sal, plays the abusive ex-boyfriend to his co-star Sienna Miller’s character. Nick gives a memorable performance, in which he had to channel some past abuse he endured when he was younger.
Recently I got to chat again with Nick, this time regarding his movie, his activism in domestic violence issues, the current political climate, and COVID.
In the movie, you play an abusive character and ironically, you are a survivor of an abusive household when you were young. How did playing this role tap into your personal experiences?
I used aspects of different people and blended them for this character. Everyone’s method on how to approach a role is different, for me, this role has a little bit of my father in it.
Abuse is cyclical. My father was abused and he abused me, my brother, and my mom, so I used that pain to get into character. Sal’s character in this movie is like most abusers, they have no problem getting physical with someone if it means the abuser gets what they want. People who don’t have control feel the need to overreact to gain control and that is clear in the character I play in this movie.
Did you bring up your abusive past with your co-stars? How did they support you in your role knowing it was such a personal experience?
When you get on set you really don’t talk about what you use to create a character. However, I had a chat with Sienna Miller who plays my ex-girlfriend in the movie. I told her about the abuse I experienced when I was young. She was very supportive and was such a delight to work with. Having this experience with someone of her caliber was amazing. She constantly told me, “You are doing great, keep going, keep exploring.”
Yes, the Center for Hope & Safety was formally called Shelter our Sisters. They have a local safe house for victims of abuse, and I was president of Help the Homeless Club. I would help kids with their homework and tried to be a positive role model for them. For the most part, the kids were struggling with their studies, and to make it harder, the parents (moms) needed help because they are dealing with a lot of other issues related to domestic violence.
Center for Hope & Safety grew and expanded its mission to all people affected by domestic violence. They provide legal services, emergency shelter, counseling, job skills, and temporary housing for those committed to a new life away from their abuser. They also provide 3 meals a day to those in temp housing.
Lately, I have helped with the food drives, clothes drives, and the toy drive over Christmas, as well as a program called Project Child. Project Child uses music and theatre as art therapy for children, in addition to counseling. Center for Hope & Safety is finding it very effective with the children that attend.
The last 4 years have been very difficult for this nation and for many of us. For instance, I have had to cut ties with some family members due to their harmful political and cultural beliefs. I now have my chosen family. How have you navigated the current social/political climate in America?
That’s a great question and it’s just tough because I think everybody has had to make decisions that aren’t comfortable ones. I’ve had to cut some ties as well. Cutting ties is not for everyone and is not a real solution…I guess it can be a temporary solution, but you aren’t solving anything and aren’t having a common understanding…
In my opinion, you can’t sit across the table from me, tell me you love me, and then vote for someone who is directly affecting my and other people’s quality of life.
On one of your Instagram videos, you said, “People who have no exposure are afraid.”
If you can’t look at something from someone else’s position, you are dealing with someone with limited self-awareness. It’s difficult to press upon someone a new idea if they aren’t even aware there is a blind spot, or in denial of a blind spot. Not exposing yourself to culture is a loss.
With COVID and 2020 being a horrible year, how did you survive?
The first six months I was doing what everyone else was doing: staying inside, watching Netflix, trying to wash my hands all the time. I really took this seriously. I have a 71-year-old mom that I like to visit, and even when I see her, I keep my mask on. I don’t want to be responsible for getting my mom sick or anyone else.
I was tired of waiting for the gyms to open, and thought, “Why not put a gym in my place?” So I decided to get a gym. I got an entire leg press machine, bench press, floor mats, resistance bands and I converted my living room into a partial gym and started to work out. I think ever since then, the lockdown hasn’t felt so oppressive.
I know that being connected to your body and exercising releases endorphins, and it immediately elevates your mental state, when your body feels good, your mind feels good. Emotionally you feel good.
When those things are out of balance it’s hard to get out of it. I just decided to buckle down and started working out. That is what I have been doing to deal with COVID.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
This has been the best acting year I have ever had. I had a film released in August called DieRy. I finished shooting another movie called Heather in December. An Imperfect Murder came out on Netflix in January. I had three things happening this year despite being in a lockdown. I am very fortunate, very grateful, very thankful that this year has actually has been a good year career-wise.
Also, I think people need to use this time for some personal development, taking a step back, trying to love themselves a little deeper, and taking the time to pause.
I think we work so hard and are used to so much stress. We pack so much into a day that we almost don’t know what to do with ourselves if we aren’t constantly running ourselves ragged.
(This is a) time to figure out what we (really) want. It feels like a reset of some sort, a pausing, a slowing down.
The downside of quarantine and COVID is that domestic violence, suicide, and drug addiction are at an all-time high. That is why places like the Center for Hope & Safety are so important.
Nick, thank you it has been a pleasure.