Ray Martin was in the early stages of pursuing an acting career when his mom died of cancer in 2002.
Martin, a Feasterville native and Archbishop Ryan High School graduate, had a recurring role in the television show Ed at the time, but returned home to be with his dad.
As for his acting career?
“If it’s meant to be,” he figured, “it will eventually come back.”
Growing up, Martin, an Assumption BVM graduate and 1999 Ryan grad, had two goals: become an actor and own a business.
By 2008, he was owner of Hybrid Planet Chauffeurs.
A couple of years after starting the business, Martin happened to see Paul Rudd filming a movie in Philadelphia. He engaged the actor in a conversation until Reese Witherspoon approached, and he took that as a cue to leave.
Martin, still wanting to pursue a career in the entertainment field, came up with the idea of a film called Stealing Paul Rudd. He even dropped off a script for Rudd in California. After Rudd did not express interest, Martin tried to enlist others in the lead role: Steve Guttenberg, Christian Slater, Ralph Macchio, Danny DeVito and Mickey Rourke.
Ultimately, he reached out to Gervase Peterson, the Philadelphia native who appeared on the original season of Survivor in 2000 and returned to the reality show for a second time in 2013.
Martin became friends with Peterson after enlisting him to play in a celebrity basketball game to raise money for Fox Chase Cancer Center.
“It felt right,” he said of selecting Peterson for the movie role.
The movie title is Stealing a Survivor. Martin directs and has a starring role in the comedy, which wrapped up filming last December and was picked up in the summer and released nationally in October by Old City-based Breaking Glass Pictures.
The plot has Peterson hatching a plan to fake his own kidnapping to revive his celebrity status. At the same time, Martin’s dad’s chauffeur business is failing financially, and he tries to save his dad from bankruptcy.
“It’s about surviving,” Martin said.
Martin believes viewers will like his dad’s character, played by George Wendt.
“Everyone knows Norm from Cheers,” he said.
The film is available on Amazon, Comcast, Verizon, DirecTV, Apple and iTunes.
Filming took place in Delaware County and at Martin’s home in Havertown, where he lives with his wife, Andrea, and three children.
There is also a scene at Geno’s Steaks. Some years ago, Martin went to the South Philly landmark with his always-supportive mom, Peachie, who convinced staff to put up her son’s headshot with other celebrities. This time, while filming the scene, staff asked Martin for his picture and to sign the Geno’s autograph book.
Martin likes the team that made Stealing a Survivor, including writing partner Walt Haley.
Matt Mahoney was the cinematographer, and edited the film earlier this year.
“He does beautiful work,” Martin said.
Martin describes actor Chris Morris, son of legendary basketball coach Speedy Morris, as a cross between John Candy and Chris Farley. He plays Tanner.
“This is his coming-out party. He’s a diamond in the rough,” Martin said of Morris.
Actor Thomas Ian Nicholas has a cameo, as does Jason Kelce.
“He was a standout,” Martin said of the Eagles center.
Next up for Martin is Shoobies, a film he’s writing and will star in that centers on five best friends who go to the beach for a Labor Day weekend interrupted by a hurricane and a murder. He likens it to the 1993 film Judgment Night. He’s also producing a short film on medical anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Martin considers his mom, who taught him to never give up on his dreams, to be his angel as he continues in the entertainment industry.
“My mom somehow, some way, when she passed, this has been her way of paying me back 10-fold,” he said. “Everything has come full circle in my life.”