Dennis Farina and I talk about the role he was born to play in ‘The Last Rites of Joe May’!
by Daniel Engelke
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I was quite excited to hear there was a chance to interview Dennis Farina. Remembering his memorable roles from Big Trouble and Snatch, I responded promptly to “snatch” the interview.
Farina’s latest film, The Last Rites of Joe May, puts the actor in a role that he was born to play. Finding out that his apartment has been rented out after an extended stay at the hospital, small-time hustler Joe May must now share his tiny living space with a mother and daughter. With money low and age catching up to him, Joe is presented with one last big break to finally make it.
Here is Dennis Farina and I talking about The Last Rites of Joe May!
FM: Hi Dennis, great to be speaking with you. I’ve been a long time fan. Even more so after seeing the film. How did director Joe Maggio approach you about playing Joe May?
Dennis Farina: Well, there was this company called “You’re Faded Films”. Stephanie Streigel and her production partner, Bill Strauss, brought the script to me. I loved it. My only concern was that the film was set in New York. With Chicago being my hometown, I spoke to Joe about possibly changing locations. It’d been a long time since I had the chance to act there and felt the film would only benefit. Being the great guy that he is, Joe was able to change the location to Chicago.
FM: Very nice. I’m sure shooting in your hometown brought back some great memories?
Dennis Farina: For me, returning to those neighborhoods brought back a familiar feeling. The weather in Chicago, as you know, is very temperamental. Joe wanted to make the weather another character in the film. And it worked, because that was a very cold shoot. Believe it or not, the weather worked with us. When we wanted it to snow, it snowed. Everything you see in the film is natural.
FM: Well, you usually don’t hear the weather working for film crews often, especially in Chicago! The mother and daughter, played by Jamie Anne Allman and Meredith Droeger, work wonderfully together and with you. How was acting alongside them?
Dennis Farina: Very well. As you know, a major part of the film is the relationship between Joe and young Angelina. The casting people informed me that Meredith was really wonderful. True to their word, when I met Angelina, we got along famously. And Jamie is a known commodity. Very professional and very nice. Great to work with. The apartment really helped our dynamic as well. Joe May was one of those films where everything seemed to work.
FM: That is always good to hear. I’ve heard the film described as a throw back to “70’s tough guy” films, but I actually felt Joe May was more of a film-noir. How did you feel when you were filming it?
Dennis Farina: When Joe would talk about the film, he’d bring up The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Robert Mitchun plays a boss. Great stuff. But, I think making comparisons is hard. I’m not naive enough to say we invented something new, but I think the film stands on it’s own. People can make these comparisons, but when I playing Joe May, I was Joe May.
FM: And it definitely does. Thanks a lot Dennis and hope to see more of your work soon!
Daniel Engelke works as a freelance writer and director in New York City. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Film. He specializes in Italian Neo-Realism and the French & German New Wave.
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