NYCC Media Interview: Mob City

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I attended an interview roundtable with three stars of cable network TNT‘s upcoming mini-series Mob City. The show will air over three weeks with two episodes back to back each Wednesday beginning December 4th.

The roundtable was mostly attended by members of the international press. I found the questions I had being asked by people from across the globe which is the reason for the format that follows.

The cast members in attendance were Robert Knepper, Edward Burns, and Milo Ventimiglia.

Journalist: Talk a little bit about your characters.

EB: I play Bugsy Siegel. Obviously a real character and the head of the crime syndicate in Los Angeles. Milo’s character is a fictional charatcer called Ned Stax who is a lawyer and yet is playing both sides of the fence. And Robert’s character is Syd who is also a fictional character who is the hitman, the muscle of the operation.

MV: You’re basically hangin’ out with crooks.

EB: In ’47 it’s when William Parker wants to squash the mob. Frank Darabont would do a much better job explaining the show. (general laughter)

Journalist: When you first got the call where you like, “Yes, I’m doing it!” or did you have to think about it?

MV: There was no thought I know, for me.

RK: Frank Darabont, I mean it’s Frank Darabont!

EB: It’s sort of a no-brainer.

RK: Every actor I know thinks the same thing; when Frank calls you answer the phone. And the fact that he likes you and he wants you there is a really nice feeling.

MV: I put myself on tape. It’s such a beautiful script you don’t have to act. You just have to show-up and say the words and it’s gonna be great. But then you get around such great players and you find more depth to things it’s just a really wonderful process.

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Journalist: Do you think the show is more tame than if it wasn’t on TV?

EB: It’s not network it’s basic cable and I was really surprised. I was kinda pleasantly surprised that we’re allowed to do and show and say almost everything. We’ve got room to make it realistic but also fun.

Journalist: Talk a bit about playing Bugsy who was a real person and there’s so much stuff we know about him already.

EB: I purposely did not look at Warren Beatty. I watched a doc on Bugsy, I did some reading about the time period. But really Frank just said to me, “Look this guy has to be larger than life. When he walks into a room you immediately love him and fear him. Just have fun with that.”  The other day I was jokin’ around and I said when I did my research and I saw he was from Brooklyn I was like, “Alright, at least I don’t have to work on an accent.”  Which is good because I don’t know if you’ve seen my work, I’ve got one accent really well.

RK: I want it to be known that Ed came onto the set and immediately reached out to everybody. I mean, I grew-up in Ohio and you were like an Ohioan! You were like, “Hey! How are you?! I wanna talk to ya, I wanna know your story!” And you brought us all together.

EB: We feel like real friends because we clicked imediately and not just the three of us. We were really lucky because that doesn’t always happen.

Journalist: You all seem like such nice guys, how do you channel your inner bad boy?

MV: I’m always bad. I dunno. Look at me. (general laughter) I just look like trouble. My character’s actually kind of gray. He works both sides of the law.

EB: I’ve done so many romantic comedies that I couldn’t wait to have an opportunity to beat the shit out of somebody on screen and it was so much fun. It was very easy to tap into my darker side. I think most actors are like that. Bad guys are always so much more fun so no real effort required.

RK: I would add that I had a teacher years ago here in New York who taught you to do the opposite especially if you’re playing bad guys. Bad guys don’t think that they’re bad. That’s how I approach it. I think, what am I doing that’s positive?

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Journalist: I wanna ask Ed, why do you think the bad guys are so charismatic now like Walter White from Breaking Bad?

EB: I think part of it is like wish fulfillment. You’re in New York you get bumped into on the sidewalk, a cab cut you off, some guy in a deli pissed you off, you wanna go Walter White on them or Bugsy Siegel. You just wanna take that fucker and mash his head through a window. But you can’t do that so you put on Breaking Bad where you get to live through those characters. I’m kidding around but I think that’s a large part of it. We wish in those situations we could behave like a gangster does. The other thing is they are fascinating characters. These two guys are fictional characters in this piece but Frank Darabont had a great time writing them. Bugsy is a real character who led a crazy, wild life and that makes for great drama. So I think it’s for all those reasons.

Journalist: Because it’s a Frank Darabont TV series is it a little unnerving knowing that no character is safe? Bugsy’s fate is not the best but for the fictional characters, reading the script, is it nervewracking knowing it could be me next?

MV: For me, because it was only six episodes with just two months of production time, I just wanted to enjoy the Hell out of this. When am I gonna get an opportunity to be around great actors, amazing crews and a boss who gives everything to the production? I didn’t think if I was gonna die or not. I just wanted to enjoy it.

RK: Nothing in this business lasts forever. No show lasts forever, no character on a show lasts forever. And when you’re dealing with genius you just have to step back and enjoy it. It’s not like I could go to Frank and say, “Gee, could you please keep my character alive for the whole series?”

PS Nation: So ED! Is this the part that finally makes you feel like a piece of meat?! He said, “Yes.” Then he laughed and I took this picture.
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Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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  • ChazzH69

    Mob City sounds great. 🙂