Ten Minutes With: Paul Marcarelli
A multi-talented commercial TV actor––often recognized as the face of Verizon
Photo by Jordan Matter
Paul Marcarelli, actor, producer, director, and screenplay writer, is perhaps most famous for uttering just five words: “Can you hear me now?” With that phrase, he championed Verizon and became the most famous face and voice in television commercials. He and his husband, Ryan Brown, owner of the eponymous catering company, and their two dogs make their home in New Milford
How old were you when you got the acting bug?
I wanted to be an actor my whole life. I went to Fairfield University and took every course that had to do with theater. I did five plays a year; the campus playhouse was my real home. Right after graduation, I moved to New York to start my career.
How difficult was it to make your mark in the big city?
I got together with a small group of friends and formed a theater company called Mobius Group Productions and we worked with well-known playwrights and mounted plays that for one reason or another were less recognized. And we began to get attention. Eventually I started making a living doing television commercials.
Had you any idea when you filmed the Verizon commercial that it would become so popular?
Not at all. In fall 2001, I went to an audition. By the time I got home, I had a callback for the next day. I spoke with the casting director and was offered a contract the next afternoon.
How did you jump from Verizon to Sprint?
I was very happy with my job at Verizon, but it ended a few years ago. Sprint asked if I would try their service to see if I liked it and would I spread the word. I tried it, I liked it, and the rest is history.
How did you meet Ryan?
We have known each other since 1992. About ten years ago we bumped into each other at a play I had produced. We decided to have a drink and have been together ever since.
You were born in Connecticut and you still live here. What is the attraction?
I grew up in North Haven where my parents still have a small farm. Even though we have a place in New York, I still consider this my home. My twin brother and my sister still live here and we all get together for Sunday dinners.
Aside from your commercial work, are you still acting?
I’ve worked primarily as a producer and screenwriter in independent films. I produced and wrote the screenplays for two films: Clutter, starring Carol Kane and Natasha Lyonne, and in 2011 released The Green, which was shot entirely on the shoreline of Connecticut.
What draws you to a project?
I am drawn to topics that reflect the LGBT community. An example is The Royal Road, made by this brilliant filmmaker out of San Francisco named Jenni Olson. I was executive producer. We took it to Sundance last year, and it was incredibly well received.
What do you and Ryan do for fun?
We love to take sunset drives around Washington and Roxbury. We read a lot, and I spend a lot of time in the garden. Ryan cooks quite a bit and I am the beneficiary of that.