Senin, 22 Juli 2013

Dennis Farina Remembering Chicagos blue collar star

In 1978 director Michael Mann returned to his native Chicago to scout locations and conduct research for a film called Thief. One of the local Chicago Police Department advisors hired to work on the tale of cops robbers and the gray areas in between was Dennis Farina of the burglary division.

Mann liked him right away. He liked him enough to put him in the movie in a tiny role as somebody s henchman.

Related Dennis Farina 1944 2013 An unmistakably Chicago face on screen Photos Dennis Farina's career Videos Scenes from Farina's work life Dennis Farina Guest Book Photos Notable deaths from 2013 See more stories He thought all he had to do to have a career as an actor recalled Mann by phone from Hong Kong Monday was to be known as Dennis the dream to work with. Because everybody told him that. He was the best guy on the planet. And he was a lot more than a nice guy. He had the charisma and the ability as a storyteller and raconteur to hold your interest. He appreciated the fullness the roundness of human life.

Speaking from the set of his latest film Cyber Mann recalled Farina as the impeccably coiffed and dressed Sicilian American dandy the image of which he happily cultivated off screen and often on as in his two seasons on Law Order.

He located himself in a certain cultural niche that included the manicured nails the pocket handkerchiefs Sinatra Tony Bennett My Way. He loved it all Mann said.

The director writer and producer collaborated with Farina many times following the 1981 film Thief on series television (guest shots on Miami Vice ) and then the lead on Crime Story. More recently Mann worked with Farina on the HBO series Luck.

This is personally devastating Mann said of the 69 year old actor s death. Half the crew on this movie we re making knew him and miss him already.

Farina frequently credited two life changing inspirations Mann s Thief and the Chicago theater actors who mentored him on the job in the early and mid 1980s. He made his professional acting stage debut in 1982 in A Prayer for My Daughter playing a policeman in director John Malkovich s staging. John Mahoney and Jeff Perry were also in the cast Terry Kinney played the other cop opposite Farina.

He had the right stuff from the beginning Kinney said Monday. He moved in a very natural way to begin with and for a novice stage actor that s really something. He didn t really suffer from nerves he didn t have a problem going out there in front of people. At the same time Kinney said there was always a distance between his public persona and the private man.

Kinney recalled going out with Farina Saturday nights and he d regale me with these incredibly gory stories all these life and death situations. But always with a certain defensive humor and an emotional distance. Farina Kinney said had the knack for letting the camera read your mind. He knew how to be subtle. But on stage he had the size the physical presence.

Mann remembered Farina as a natural but a natural with an increasingly wide range as his acting career solidified and broadened. Millions may long identify Farina s voice as the quintessential sound of Chicago his cadence and delivery just pronounced enough to be interesting a rebuke to all the caricatured cliched Chicago vowel sounds heard on TV and in the movies.

Back in the 80s fellow Chicago performer William Petersen said this in Rick Kogan s Tribune feature Farina s the greatest actor in the world and he s going to make blue collar people our new sex symbols. Farina also told Kogan that well into his acting career by the time movies such as Midnight Run had come along he declined to watch himself in the finished product.

It s still awkward for me to look at myself on that big screen he said. Maybe one of these days.

mjphillips tribune.com

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