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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Is 'The Island' his ticket to Hollywood?

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledoan Frank T. Balazs holds a police badge he wore in the movie The Island, which opens Friday. Toledoan Frank T. Balazs holds a police badge he wore in the movie The Island, which opens Friday.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

Toledoan Frank T. Balazs has never worked in law enforcement, yet he has flashed a badge, taken down a drug suspect, traded gunfire with bad guys, and controlled a crowd at a helicopter crash scene.

Balazs, 37, is an actor, and he has played a police officer while working with rappers Obie Trice and Eminem on a video, and film stars Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor in the feature film The Island, which opens Friday.

The 1986 Bedford High School graduate filmed three scenes in The Island, a thriller directed by Michael Bay about two inhabitants of a futuristic society who discover they are in danger and try to escape. He says he expects his first feature-film role to be a big career boost.

"This will open a lot of doors and create a lot of opportunities," says Balazs, who hopes to move soon to California to pursue his acting career.

Locally, Balazs has portrayed many roles, including a doctor in a print campaign for St. Anne Mercy Hospital and St. Charles Mercy Hospital, a dinner guest in a Maumee Bay Brewing Co. television commercial, and a limousine driver in a Nickelodeon television commercial.

He learned he had landed the part in The Island last October while dining after the audition with his girlfriend, Julie Warren, of Toledo.

"They told me there were 2,400 people who auditioned for four [police officer] spots. ... After the audition, I got a call on my cell phone and they said, 'Frank, Wel-come to The Island!' " Balazs says.

The movie was shot in Detroit. Balazs and the three other police characters worked from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for almost three weeks last winter. Each day before shooting, the routine was the same: have makeup done, get fitted in police gear, and sign out weapons.

Balazs says he is curious to see which scenes make it into the movie. Those he filmed showed him directing other officers, having a shoot-out with bad guys, drawing weapons, and controlling a crowd after a helicopter crashes onto a busy street.

"I'm running down the street to the crash scene, controlling the screaming crowd of innocent bystanders, and controlling the situation as the cameras are rolling right in front of me," he says. "I'm screaming, 'Everyone stay back! We have a serious situation.' "

Balazs is represented by nine talent agents. He credits his Toledo agent, Patty Schoepf of The Agency, and his best friend since childhood, Kathy Buchelt, for helping him with his career.

Before performing in The Island, Balazs was in Trice's music video "Don't Come Down," also shot in Detroit. It was directed by Eminem and Damon Johnson, and it debuted last year on the cable channel BET.

In the video, Balazs plays a Detroit police officer who wrestles Trice - who's playing a drug suspect - to the ground as Trice tries to escape.

Balazs says his children, Brittany, 18, Kristen, 16, and Frank III, 14, and their friends were excited that he was working on a video directed by a rap star.

"They'd say to my kids, 'Your dad knows Eminem?' "

In addition to gaining experience on the film projects, Balazs says he got a taste of celebrity life.

"The days on the set were unbelievable," he says of filming The Island. "I signed autographs and posed for pictures taken with people just happy to watch the action unfold."

Although Balazs welcomes the opportunity to play a variety of roles, he realizes why his two biggest acting jobs have been as police officers.

"I think it's the way I carry myself. I try to be very professional in whatever I do. People have said, 'That guy's a cop,' " he says with a laugh.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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