An intimidating picture and a random Facebook message set the stage for former ASU Rams football player Nolan Osmanski to jump from the gridiron to the big screen.
A 2015 ASU graduate, Osmanski made his professional acting debut in the award-winning independent feature film, “The Iron Orchard,” when it premiered in February. Filmed mainly in the Big Spring area, it’s the story of Jim McNeely, a young man thrust into the vibrant and brutal West Texas oilfields in 1939, who works his way through the ranks to ultimately become a formidable wildcatter.
Osmanski plays an oilfield worker named Buster Drum. Standing 6-4 and 310 pounds, he got the part after the producers picked him out from photos of “big ol’ nasty offensive linemen” on the ASU athletics website and sent him a Facebook message.
“They said they were looking for a really big guy to be a bully to the main character,” Osmanski said. “I told them that I don’t know how to be a bully, but I’d sure try. So I went and met them, and they said, ‘You’ll work fine. You’re huge and you have a Texas accent.’ So everything was cool.”
“We love Nolan!” said Producer Camille Scioli Chambers. “He was such a great find for the film and did a wonderful job.”
“The Iron Orchard” had a limited release on Feb. 22 at theaters in West Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, followed by a much wider release on March 1 in Los Angeles, New York and throughout Texas, including San Angelo. It was also featured at film festivals in Italy, Poland, Spain and Texas, winning several awards, including the “Best of Fest” Festival Prize at the Lone Star Film Festival.
A San Angelo native, Osmanski played football for the Rams from 2012-16 and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in natural resource management. He is also part of an ASU family tradition. His older brother, Austin, earned his ASU bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. Their father, Paul, is on the ASU nursing faculty, and their mother, Lori, is an ASU nursing graduate.
Osmanski has returned to ASU to earn his nursing degree and is scheduled to graduate in May 2020, but he has not lost the acting bug.
“It was so random to get into,” Osmanski said. “It was really a blessing in disguise, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The experience of being around all those actors who helped me out so much was a lot of fun.”
“But right now, I’m trying to finish up nursing school, so I’m more focused on that,” he added. “After I graduate and get a nursing job, then I might do some more acting as a hobby if I can.”