Well, since you really want to know… My dad, Abraham Pais, was a theoretical physicist who worked with Albert Einstein for 11 years. My mom, Lila, was a bohemian painter and poet. They’ve had a tremendous influence on what has become Committed Impulse.
I’ve had the honor of working with:
Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bruce Willis, Kristen Stewart, Jessie Eisenberg, Russel Crowe, Mark Ruffalo, Sam Rockwell, Richard Gere, Brit Marling, Liev Schreiber, Parker Posey, Ellen Page, Luis Guzman, Colin Farrel, Lucy Liu, Amber Heard, Rosemary Dewitt, Catherine Keener, Matt Damon, Denis Leary, Cynthia Nixon, Courtney Cox, Candice Bergen, Patrick Dempsey, Molly Shannon, Vin Diesel, Michael Caine, Ted Danson, John Turturro, Robert Duval, Michael Douglas and many more.
I’m an actor, director, writer, producer and the proud founder of Committed Impulse.
I’ve acted in over a hundred movie and TV shows. Currently I’m playing Stu Feldman in the hit Showtime series, Ray Donovan. I also recur on YOUNGER and Law and Order: SVU. I have several movies coming out in 2017 including: Going In Style where I had the honor to work opposite Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman, directed by Zach Braff. The Land of Steady Habits, directed by Nicole Holofcener. I had a blast working with Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) on that one. And this years Sundance Fest favorite, Crown Heights with Lakeith Stanfield.
I’m a Co-creator/Co-exec Producer of a TV series that Sony is producing called PAINT.
Other films includE: The Family Fang with Nichole Kidman, directed by Jason Bateman. Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, with Ellen Page and That Awkward Moment with Zac Efron and Miles Teller. Arbitrage, Please Give, Synechdoche NY, Teeth, Find Me Guilty, Phone Booth, A Beautiful Mind…And, yea, my first lead in a movie was when I played Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wanna know more? Click here.
I started acting when I was a kid, by doing performances in my living room. In New York City’s East Village, when the hippie movement was in full bloom, I performed for any adult whose attention I could get. And I was lucky enough to have a household full of adults who were not only willing to watch, they were eager to take turns expressing themselves right along with me. The environment was creative, often drug induced, and ultimately, safe and inventive. There was no pressure to do it right. What started out as me and my next-door neighbor Suki (both of us ten years old at the time) doing little skits evolved into a weekly ritual where around 40 people would crowd into our Alphabet City living room to watch and participate.
Fast forward. I’m at Syracuse University studying acting and directing. The training at the time was based on Stanislavsky’s sense memory work. I sat in a chair and remembered “terrible” things that had happened to me (i.e. My dog, Pierre, vanished when I was seven.) I was able to generate some body sensations that felt intense. And back then, I was all about being intense. But connecting these sense memories within a scene always felt disjointed to me. I felt I had to leave the scene and do my work so I could be in the scene. It didn’t make sense to a simple guy like me.
Then, a new teacher arrived. Her name was Polly and she had just come back from working in Poland with a director named Jerzy Grotowski. One morning she introduced us to a physically engaging exercise called The Cat (No, it’s not about pretending to be a kitty) that required us to push our bodies beyond where we thought we could go. I discovered a level of aliveness and a sense of being truly present that I had never before experienced. Later that day, in my scene study class, I noticed that I was more spontaneous and creative than I had ever been. I didn’t have to conjure up sense memories to do the scene. Everything I needed was somehow right there. I was able to live in the scene. I didn’t have to delve into my past. I didn’t have to lug around my well thought out analysis. Something had awakened within me. In a very real way, doing The Cat in that studio was the beginning of a lifelong passion for creating in the present moment. That was the beginning of Committed Impulse.
After college, I sought out theatre companies with a strong physical component in their approach. I worked with members of Joe Chaikin’s Open Theatre and Shuji Terayama’s Avante-garde Theatre of Tokyo. I trained with Tadashi Suzuki and his company, and worked extensively with Gabrielle Roth (to name a few of my guides and mentors). I was on a quest to find a way to bring all of this physical aliveness to my work as an actor. Then, I became a member of the Circle Rep Lab Company. Circle Rep was a hot Off-Broadway theatre company that did stellar work. The Lab Company provided a place where actors, directors and designers could rehearse and put up plays in the black box theatre at Spring Street and 6th Avenue.
It was there that I started directing. I put a group of twelve actors together and began experimenting for a 14 month period. I wanted the actors to be fully alive, very tuned into one another and completely spontaneous. Much of what unfolded during that exploration has evolved into the core training of Committed Impulse. During that 14 month period, I showed the work we were doing in the Lab Company. People were blown away by it. I got requests to train other theatre companies and then to teach. I explained that I wasn’t a teacher. Nonetheless, the requests didn’t stop. I gave it a crack, and loved it. Even after my own acting career took off, I continued to teach. Frankly, it’s one of the best ways to learn, and to keep growing. I have been fortunate to work consistently in movies and television throughout my career and I owe everything to the principles I have picked up along the way, all of which are utilized in my Committed Impulse classes and the Online Program. I owe great thanks to the countless movies stars and journeymen I have had the opportunity to play opposite and the thousands of performers I have worked with in my Committed Impulse classes around the world and all they have taught me.
I live in New York City, Sag Harbor, and Venice, California. And, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.