Dennis Farina is currently starring in the film “The Last Rites of Joe May,” a drama about a small-time Chicago hustler who finds a shot at redemption when he meets a young woman and her six-year-old daughter.
He’s also set to co-star alongside Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte in the new HBO series “Luck,” set in the world of horseracing. “Luck” won’t air until January 2012, but Zap2it recently talked to Farina about the show, “The Last Rites of Joe May” and what he does in his spare time (hint: it may or may not involve the track.)
Zap2it: Tell us about your character in the ‘Last Rites of Joe May.’
Joe May is somebody whose time has come and gone but he doesn’t think so. He refuses to accept that. He thinks he’s the sharpest thing but everyone knows it’s over for him. He thinks he’s vital enough to pull off one final score. I always thought it was interesting that the first stop he makes when he gets out of the hospital is to a bar. You would think that someone getting out of the hospital, a friend or family member would pick him up.
Any similarities between you and Joe May?
I don’t know if there are any similarities. But I appreciate these types of guys. They aren’t around anymore.
What attracted you to the role?
One of the reasons is that he went to that bar. I thought it was interesting. And then if you cut to the end, I don’t want to give anything away but you would expect a different ending.
What was it like shooting in your hometown of Chicago?
I loved it. The weather cooperated fully. We always thought the weather was another character in the movie. If we had shot in May in Hawaii it would have been totally different. I knew the areas where we were shooting and what we were talking about. A few back alleys and dead end streets.
Tell us a little bit about this new HBO series, “Luck” that premieres in January? It’s centered on the world of horse racing?
It’s dealing with what’s happening in horse racing today. With off track betting and computer betting horse tracks are in trouble. Michael Mann (“Public Enemies,” “Miami Vice” and David Milch (“Deadwood,” “NYPD Blue”) created the show. And of course I have a history with Michael Mann. They called and sent me the script and I was in.
It’s a very talented ensemble you’re working with. Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, John Ortiz. What was the chemistry like the first day at work?
On a personal level everyone got along great. We just clicked.
Have you ever gone to the track?
I’ve been to the track a lot. I like Santa Anita. In Chicago we have Hawthorne and Arlington there’s three or four tracks around here.
How do you relax when you’re not working?
I read, play golf, listen to music. I like big bands, jazz, Sinatra, Dean Martin, those guys.
What was the last movie you saw?
“The Help.” I really enjoyed it. The story was interesting. It was shot beautifully and the acting was great.
What TV shows are you into?
“Boardwalk Empire.” I really like the way it looks. Steve Buscemi is really good in it. And they surprise you every week.