Though Nickola Shreli prefers to act in movies, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to move back to his hometown of Detroit to film AMC’s new crime drama, “Low Winter Sun.” “It was such a refreshing homecoming,” says Shreli of filming the series, which premieres Aug. 11. “We shot the whole show in Detroit, and the whole community really embraced production.”
But Shreli, 32, didn’t always dream of the silver screen. “My father was very strict, very against entertainment and acting,” says the Albanian actor. “In Detroit, there were few options — there was Chrysler, and there was construction.” So Shreli spent his 20s working in real estate while doing improv at Detroit’s Second City and acting as an extra in films like “8 Mile” on the side before he got his big break: playing the villain opposite Taylor Lautner in “Abduction.” “It was an evolution,” he says of his career. “It’s all about maturity.”
Though he’s based in Detroit for the foreseeable future, Shreli says he visits Chicago whenever he needs a break from the Motor City. “When you get Detroit-ed out, and you want to go bigger, better and cleaner, you go to Chicago,” he says. “It’s a Midwest New York.”
Plot points: “It’s more of a character piece revolving around the Detroit detectives. It’s a study of choices and consequences of crooked cops and politicians in Detroit underworlds and how they all coincide.”
Role call: “I play Gus, a first-generation Italian. Gus is the anchor, the muscle of the crew. What’s cool is you don’t know who is good or bad. On these types of shows, the viewers are drawn to the villains, but everyone has done bad things on the show. They play for power in Detroit’s underworld, and they tangle with the law.”
Blurred lines: “My agent said, ‘There’s this show they’re filming in Detroit like ‘The Wire’ in Baltimore.’ I was really excited to be back on my home turf. I knew the landscape and a lot of elements of that world. The lines were blurred — there were locations we’d be at, and I’d know people there.”
“Low Winter Sun” premieres Aug. 11 at 9 p.m. on AMC.