Nick Sandow wrote, directed and starred in new mob movie The Wannabe, which also stars Michael Imperioli and Vincent Piazza.

‘The Wannabe’

The Wannabe is loosely based on the story of the young ex-con married couple Thomas Uva and Rosemarie Uva, who infamously held up mafia social clubs in New York City during the John Gotti trial in the early 90s, before meeting their ends.

“Thomas is under so much influence of what was happening in 1991/92,” Piazza told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “The backdrop is the John Gotti trial and here is this young lost soul in search of access to this world, almost in his own effort to keep the myth of the mafia or the last gasps of it alive.”

While Piazza’s Thomas, the ambitious protagonist in The Wannabe, tries to embroil himself within the mob before resorting to robbing it, Imperiloi’s Alphonse and Sandow’s Anthony play men outside of the criminal business. Alphonse, Thomas’s brother, is fighting an impulse to give up on his wayward brother, while Anthony doesn’t know if it’s time to turn his back on his sister Rose (Patricia Arquette).

“I think they’ve had a very bumpy history, with [Thomas] getting into trouble and my character Alphonse trying to help him and kind of reaching a point of being fed up and having to keep a distance to protect himself and his family,” said Imperioli.

Adding of his own character, Sandow said, “He’s very similar to Alphonse in that he’s trying to hold down the family. He’s been through it with Rose and that journey when you have someone who many times derails their own life, and he’s been through that with her and he’s tried to save her on many occasions.”

Stories centered in and around mob life have long been popular for audiences. Sandow believes the popularity is rooted in an American fascination with lawlessness and power.

“I think that the genre is uniquely American,” said the Orange is the New Black star. “It’s a fascination with being above the law and not having to kowtow to anyone, and about power.”

The Wannabe is currently in select theaters.


Q: Vincent, what happens to your character at the outset of the movie? -

What’s interesting is Thomas is under so much influence of what was happening in 1991/92,
the backdrop is the John Gotti trial and here is this young lost soul in search of access to this world, almost in his own effort to keep the myth of the mafia or the last gasps of it alive. He meets this woman who not only nurtures that and in some ways enables it, they fall in love while he’s in pursuit of it and we get to see this wild ride and descent into this dark fantasy.

Q: Michael and Nick, how do your characters fit into the movie? -

[Michael]: My character is the older brother of Vincent’s character, and my character inherited and took over the family business, this flower shop that’s been in the neighborhood for many years and he’s kind of a paternal figure to Vincent. I think they’ve had a very bumpy history, with Vincent getting into trouble and my character Alphonse trying to help him and kind of reaching a point of being fed up and having to keep a distance to protect himself and his family from his you know, all his problems, but at the same time still caring for him and still wanting to help him.

[Nick]: It’s interesting you ask me about my character. I play Patricia’s brother and he’s a transit cop, and in many ways he’s very similar to Alphonse in that he’s trying to hold down the family. He’s been through it with Rose and that journey when you have someone who many times derails their own life, and he’s been through that with her and he’s tried to save her on many occasions. He’s seeing it again and he’s smelling it in the form of Thomas and he desperately wants to save her.

Q: Are your characters based on real people? -

[Nick]: No, I think just Thomas and Rose are grounded as they were a real couple. As far as the brothers, and I think there was a brother, and yeah, it gets a little hazy.

Q: Why do you think mob dramas like this hold people’s imagination? -

[Nick]: I think that the genre is uniquely American. It’s a fascination with being above the law and not having to kowtow to anyone, and about power. I think it’s a fascination. For me, I saw my way into it because he was the outsider, he was someone on the outside looking in and I really relate to that. I also relate it very much to the desperation to want to be something you’re not. I spent the last 25 or 30 years of my life doing that as an actor, so it was grounded in something very real for me.

[Vincent]: I felt like, for me, pretty much everything Nick said, but also that it harkens back to those 70s films that have inspired a lot of great mob movies, so that was a fun world to play in.