Actor/Producer Adam Ambruso Dishes On His Role In ‘Butterfly Caught’ And The #MeToo Movement

Adam Ambruso is on a mission to handle every situation that comes his way with grace, dignity and respect.

Helping to spotlight Hollywood’s reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the actor/producer stars in the Sony Pictures award-winning film, ‘Butterfly Caught,’ which made its debut and won ‘Best Ensemble Film’ at the 2017 San Diego International Film Festival and will make its theater release later this summer. The Texas native’s previous credits include “Running Wild” (featuring Sharon Stone, Tommy Flanagan and Jason Lewis) and the SyFy original horror-sci-fi film “Atomic Shark” with Jeff Fahey and David Faustino. Other projects include “The Great Race” with Treat Williams and Brian Presley as well as Lifetime’s “My Daughter Was Stolen.”

Adam AmbrusoPhoto Credit: Philippe McClelland

Written and directed by Manny Rodriguez Jr., “Butterfly Caught” follows three women with dreams of making it big as actresses. Each is pushed past breaking points when they’re tempted with promises of fame and will be forced to decide how far they’re willing to go to become actresses. The movie explores the dark underbelly of glitzy Hollywood and shows how the cut-throat industry makes victims of naïve newcomers.

Ambruso also recently starred in and executive produced Will Wallace’s thrilling drama, “Trafficked” featuring Ashley Judd and written by a Harvard professor who wrote a book about human trafficking. The movie explicitly details the story of three young women who are abducted and thrust into the vicious underworld of sex trafficking.

Adam AmbursoPhoto Credit: Philippe McClelland

We caught up recently with Ambruso to discuss “Butterfly Caught,” why “Trafficked” needed to be made and his own personal experience with sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Tell us a little about your lead role in ‘Butterfly Caught’ and what inspired you to become involved with this project.

I have a mentor, Will Wallace, who has guided me in my career. I told him he would produce 30 movies with me and he laughed, but saw I had a big vision, so he started bringing me projects. He has directed 30 films on his own and said he felt like the lead for this film could be good for me. I was so busy at the time so the script sat on my desk for three or four weeks, but when I did read it I was blown away. I really resonated with who the character was. I called him and told him I wanted to play the role of Randy. It was pretty brazen, but he ended up introducing me to the director of the picture. I thought this story should be told and needed to be told. I had been through my own story too, and felt a ray of hope in that dark scenario. In the midst of darkness, you can bring a ray of hope. That struck a chord with me. It was very rewarding to be a part of this movie, and the cast was great. The writer, director and I became very close and hope to do many more pictures together.

What do you want audiences to take away from this film?

That’s a good question. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that. I guess I would want them to take away that there is light and hope in every situation. No matter how bad things may be, there is always a ray of hope around the next corner no matter how dark things may seem. For this movie, you can have your dreams, but you don’t have to sell your soul or what’s important to you in terms of morality and your belief system. You don’t have to do that. Oftentimes, the big lie is that you do need to do that, but it works against you. It’s a big myth. What people are missing is that it’s not necessarily what you do, but how you’re doing it. You don’t have to give up what’s dear to you and handle it with grace. No matter what happens, handle it with class and treat people with kindness.

You executive produced ‘Trafficked,’ a drama based on Harvard professor Siddharth Kara’s book. Why did you feel like this film had to be made?

I seem to be doing current issue movies. It’s sort of a case of be careful what you wish for. I wanted to do movies that move and inspire people, now all the movies that are coming my way are gut-wrenching. I’ll go back to Will. Mentors are so important in life. He saw he could bring me a project and said to me, ‘there is a role in there for you; it’s a chance to cut your teeth producing with me.’ Again, it sat on my desk for three or four weeks before I read it. I had to put it down when I did read it because I was so angry and upset. It was based on real-life experiences and really affected me. I felt like this movie had something bigger that was going on. I felt like we didn’t have a choice, but to make the movie. Everything lined up for me to help tell this story. I had a controversial role in the movie as a Texas ranger furthering human trafficking. We wanted to show the dark underbelly of human trafficking, but they ended up pulling my story line in the end. I think the movie came out great great, but it could have gone a little deeper. It had so many great names who wanted to be a part of the movie. When Ashley Judd jumped on, everyone jumped on.

Adam AmbrusoPhoto Credit: Philippe McClelland

What has been your experience with sexual harassment in Hollywood?

Sexual harassment and the #metoo movement for men have been quite different. No one should be taken advantage of and it has been pretty blatant in the entertainment industry. Most men have been so embarrassed and are mortified that it happened that it could be career ruining for some of them. The men in Hollywood know they can get away with it. When I moved out here from Texas, I took a meeting with a producer knowing something was a bit off. My Texas gut told me to be careful. I had pushed for a day meeting but he wanted to meet at night. We met at a place called The Whiskey at Sunset Marquis and it was a scene right out of a movie. Kate Hudson was at a table right behind me and there were celebrities everywhere. I hadn’t sat down for five minutes when he told me he wanted to perform a sexual act on me in the bathroom. I was trying to be polite because he was a big entertainment person. It got awkward, and I actually felt sorry for the guy. I was treating him with respect when I declined his offer, and he started attacking me saying I didn’t have what other actors have and I said ‘I am sorry you feel that way’ and told him I didn’t need his help. Then I started seeing him all around town wherever I went. Later, I went for an audition, got the role and saw him after and he said I needed a manager, and I should give this woman a call. I went from a terrible situation to now working with Beth Holden, who managed Matthew McConaughey. I tell this story to many people because if you handle a situation with dignity and respect, you’ll come out better for it. I was raised by a single mother with the knowledge that there is something bigger in this world. I think in that situation there was some sort of grace involved. I hope I conduct myself that way in all situations in life.

What’s the next project you are most excited about?

Because of the success from ‘Butterfly Caught’ and ‘Trafficked,’ people are bringing me a lot of projects. What’s been great is that things are coming my way a little bit more. Will and I also plan on doing a few movies this year. One is going to be an immigration film and the other is ‘Virtuoso’ based on a true story where someone gets hit on the head and wakes with the ability to play an instrument as a virtuoso.

Thoughts on Boston?

I have always loved Boston. The accent there sounds tough and cool, and as a guy, you always want to be tough and cool. I have been to Boston a few times, but boy is it cold there! It’s like a badge of courage to be able to deal with those winters – no wonder everyone is angry, pissed and mean (laughs)! There’s a cool factor in Boston that’s neat to me. The city has so much history; it’s a lot of fun to be around.

Adam AmbrusoPhoto Credit: Philippe McClelland