Our good friend Charlie is one massively cool guy. He talks with a thick Jersey accent, he’s covered with tats, he rides a sweet motorcycle, and for work he blows stuff up for the movies.
Charles Belardinelli, who turns 62 today, is the owner of a special effects company called Redroad Effects and has been in the business for over 30 years, working with several of the biggest names in Hollywood. He began his career after arriving in L.A. from the East Coast with a tool belt and $200 in his pocket. He worked in set construction for commercials before landing a job on the crew of the original Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, where he met his wife Christina, who acted in the film. Before long, he was coordinating effects for the likes of Kevin Smith, Robert Zemeckis, and James Cameron on locations ranging from Los Angeles to Israel.
Over the years his effects have contributed to the success of such films as Pulp Fiction, The Mask, From Dusk Till Dawn, Saw, Dogma, What Lies Beneath, and most recently, The Expendables. He also starred briefly in his own short-lived reality show called Boom! a few years ago.
Charlie is like no one I have ever known. He is a unique combination of contrasts. He is a man’s man, yet still a nurturer. He is simultaneously worldly and earthy, and can be both bad-assed and spiritual in the same breath. He’s as tough as nails, but is also one of the kindest (and funniest) people I’ve ever known.
Charlie’s resume is as impressive as anyone’s in Hollywood (but you would never know it, as he is incredibly humble), but his career triumphs pale in comparison to his own personal victories in overcoming several addictions.
Last week, Charlie received a cake commemorating his 25th sobriety birthday. His house was filled with family and friends ranging in age from eleven to eighty. This was not surprising as Charlie is the most family-focused man I know, and his home in Canyon Country is a gathering spot – and often times a refuge – for folks at all hours.
Instead of celebrating his birthday with a day off, he will be working today on the set of a television show, because when you crew in Hollywood it’s always feast or famine, and you work when you can get it.
So Charlie, since you won’t be home today to celebrate the second of these dual milestones, I will use this forum to wish you a “Happy Birthday,” and to thank both you and Christina for giving the world three great boys, and for providing a safe and welcoming place for all.