SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Shooting Heroin, a film with an all-star cast including Scotch Plains native Garry Pastore, is one of the first major motion pictures dealing with the opioid epidemic, makes its New Jersey premiere when it hits the big screen on Thursday Nov. 14 at the newly reopened Cranford Theatre.
In attendance will be police chiefs, officers and DEA agents from across the state of New Jersey. Pastore invited them because the police are on the front lines in the battle against the spread of the epidemic.
Set in western Pennsylvania, Shooting Heroin is the story of a small town community that comes together to eradicate the heroin epidemic from its midst by whatever means necessary. Pastore plays the local sheriff who is faced with battling a drug problem that is killing his citizens and vigilantes who want to take matters into their own hands.
“It's an emotional movie. It took me to a place I've never been. I knew when I was making the film that it was special,” said Pastore in an exclusive interview with TAPinto. “I played a character who was real, a sheriff in a Mayberry-like town that is besieged with a drug problem. He has to deal with 300 square miles by himself.”
Director and writer Spencer Folmar wrote the film based on true events in his hometown and says the 90-minute film is the first narrative motion picture tackling the drug epidemic.
“Many of my classmates are no longer here because of the opioid epidemic,” Folmar said. “Pretty much everyone I talk to in this area has lost someone or knows someone affected by the opioid epidemic."
When Folmar, who had moved away, came to back to visit the town, he learned how bad the drug problem was in the area. He stopped all other projects to write the movie.
“It hurt him to the core,” Pastore said of the writer/director. “The biggest cause of the drug epidemic is despair. It’s the same story as the crack crisis in the 1980s.”
“The people can't get out of the small town. They’re stuck in a rut,” said Pastore. “There were three ODs in the town while we were making the film. Doing drugs is not a solution. Fentanyl is so incredibly strong. The amount that fits on the head of a dime could kill you.”
The cast of the film includes veteran actors including:
Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull), Alan Powell (Quantico TV series), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Nick Turturro (NYPD Blue), Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs (Welcome Back Kotter), and Garry Pastore (HBO’s The Deuce and The Sopranos).
Sherilyn Fenn plays a woman who loses two sons in a 12-hour span from the same needle. Powell’s character, Adam, has a son, two ex-wives and a sister who is a junkie. He tries to start a vigilante group that plans to kill the drug dealers and burn down their houses. Moriarty plays his mother. Lawrence Hilton Jacobs plays a corrections officer who has seen too many kids die. Turturro plays the town priest.
“Everybody that I come in contact with knows someone who has died. One of them, I tried to save him, but he got back on it,” Pastore said. “His name was Scott Warren; he was 19 or 20 when he passed.”
“I have a positive philosophy. I try to set positive goals. There is no such thing as ‘It can't be fixed’,” he said. “Some people have a stronger will. The ones who do not, wind up in it. I wish they'd face problems."
View Shooting Heroin film trailer here. (A few tickets for the premiere on Nov. 14 are still available.)
It has been a busy autumn for Pastore, whose role as Matty “The Horse” Ianniello on HBO’s The Deuce has brought his career to a new level.
“I’m not auditioning anymore at this point. The roles are coming to me. It’s a nice position to be in,” Pastore said.
On October 6, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at Atlantic City Cinefest for his acting, writing and directing. (“Usually they give you this to you just before you die,” he joked.)
Pastore has 60 roles to his credit in his 35-year acting career. His first film credit was Prizzi's Honor, alongside Jack Nicholson in 1985. In his autobiographical independent film, DESTRESSED, in which he directed and starred, Pastore portrayed himself as a man whose stress levels almost kill him and send him on his worldwide quest for inner peace. On his journey he discovers a little known secret which helps to cure this ailment in the delightful, award-winning film. DESTRESSED made its world premiere on April 5, 2014, at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, where it won The Audience Choice Award and Homegrown Documentary Award.
Pastore also has a small role in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which opened in theaters on Nov. 1 and will be on Netflix later in the month. The story, centered on a mob hitman’s possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, stars Oscar-winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Anna Paquin.
Pastore recently wrapped production on a film called Crabs in a Bucket, a comedy shot in Bayonne with Jeremy Piven (HBO’s “Entourage”) and Cathy Moriarty that will be released in Spring 2020. On Halloween, he began filming Hit and Run, an espionage thriller series from Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, creators of the praised Netflix series Fauda.