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Michael Tow knows ‘Business’ — in the office and onscreen

Michael Tow, a Brookline financial planner and actor, can be seen in the new Vince Vaughn comedy, “Unfinished Business.” “It’s by far the biggest role I’ve done for a Hollywood film,” Tow says.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

The new Vince Vaughn film, “Unfinished Business,” is taglined the “best business trip ever.” It follows three underdogs who try to close a big deal in Europe. Not surprisingly, shenanigans ensue. These include stops at a sex fetish extravaganza and a global economic summit.

Online, super fans of the film’s stars — Vaughn and Dave Franco — are abuzz. Even some guy named Michael Tow is getting some attention.

“Guys omg @michaelctow from Unfinished Business favorited my tweet!!! He was the guy who slapped dave franco,” one fan squealed on Twitter.

“@michaelctow gets to touch Dave Franco,” another tweeted.

Haven’t heard of Tow? Perhaps that’s because most of the time Tow is a mild-mannered Brookline financial planner — who loves to act in his spare time. He recently landed a small role in “Unfinished Business” that turned into far more than either he or the producers expected.


When focus groups saw Tow’s Japanese businessman post-production, the audience wanted more. Last December, right before the holidays, Tow got a call at 9 p.m. He was flown back to Los Angeles in January for another week of filming with Franco.

“This film was a comedy and physically challenging,” Tow said. “I had a stand-in, a stunt double, a body double, and a dummy-double.”

Angela Peri, owner of Boston Casting, first called Tow about the gig. Peri said Tow’s natural acting ability gives him an edge. He keeps it fresh. If an actor gets stale, nervous, or tongue-tied, they’re done, she said.

“He’s shown he can hold a scene with a major movie star,” Peri said. “He gets one out of every two jobs he goes in for and he’s the perfect age for a lot of things: the dad, doctor, lawyer. He’s also consistently good. That’s the name of the game in my business.”

On the movie set, Tow said he got a taste of what it meant to be a true film star.

“It’s by far the biggest role I’ve done for a Hollywood film,” Tow said. “It wasn’t the glitz and glam. It was the ability to collaborate with director Ken Scott and the producers and talk about the scene . . . literally, there are 100 crew members working with and just shooting Dave Franco and I.”


Tow’s involved in a variety of projects right now. At the top of the list, “East of Hollywood,” a comedic mockumentary he’s co-writing, producing, and acting in about being an Asian actor.

His first local role on stage with Company One Theatre was the part of a frog in the play “After the Quake.” It was one of the first times he wasn’t typecast as an Asian character.

“When he came to us, [Tow] didn’t have a lot of experience,” said Shawn LaCount, artistic director at Company One. “His personality is full of charisma. He’s likable and hardworking . . . those are all attributes of Michael, the person and Michael, the actor.”

Tow also auditioned for the lead role as the father in ABC’s new comedy “Fresh off the Boat.”

“It’s revolutionary as far as their portrayal of an Asian-American family on television,” Tow said. “Often the parts are for a gangster or heavily accented crazy dad. Asian men are very emasculated and asexualized, while Asian woman are hyper-sexualized. My goal is to have a truer representation of Asians in film and TV.”

For now, he responds to fans on social media. On Twitter, he uses two hashtags: #UnfinishedBusiness and #slaphappyasian.

Cristela Guerra can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.