Tommy Lee Thomas is not a household name…yet. But the 31-year-old actor/writer/producer has already mapped out a road to cinematic success. “My goal is to be like Roger Corman and Mel Gibson all wrapped in one,” he says. “What I mean by this is that I want to specialize in producing/acting in ultra-low budget films that are genre driven and that will insure a return of and on the money invested in the films in a timely manner, which will allow for me to continue to make film after film and provide my brand of entertainment to the masses.”
It is a grand plan, to be certain, but Thomas has an uncommon drive and determination to succeed. The Dallas native got his first break in 1991 during his senior year of high school when he landed a part as a delivery boy in a national commercial for Domino’s Pizza. In two years’ time he appeared in more than 50 commercials. Yet Thomas stepped back from acting and focused on his education, earning a BBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. He clearly made an impression on the school, which features him in its “Success Stories” section of the Cox School’s web site. He subsquently earned an MBA from Pepperdine University.
Rather than rely on auditions to find success in films, Thomas decided to apply his business education to his career aspirations. In 1998 he directed, wrote and starred in a feature called “More Than Meets the Eye.” The film, an intense drama about a small town’s inability to accept the return of a young man returning from incarceration for a heinous double murder, received critical praise but did not snag a distribution. In 2000, Thomas switched gears to produce, write and star in “Proverbial Justice,” an action film about two cops in a dangerous cat-and-mouse pursuit of a serial killer. The film received release outside of the U.S., but American audiences never got to see it.
In 2002, Thomas finally reached an American audience with Con Games, a rousing action flick in which he plays an ex-soldier who accepts an undercover assignment to investigate the uncommonly high prisoner death rate at a correctional institution. Eric Roberts played the villainous warden in “Con Games,” but Thomas was the real star with a remarkably athletic performance. Indeed, Thomas was in such extraordinary physical condition for “Con Games” that he makes Brad Pitt’s Achilles in Troy look like Oliver Hardy in comparison.
In between his movies, Thomas maintains a successful career as a real estate investor and entrepreneur. Yet films remain his passion and he is currently planning his next production. Film Threat caught up with Thomas at his new Los Angeles home, literally dropping in on him just as he completed moving in.
Get the interview in part two of TOMMY LEE THOMAS: A NEW TEXAS TORNADO>>>