Vincent D’Onofrio admits that while he enjoyed acting in Anchor Bay Entertainment’s low-budget indie crime drama “Kill the Irishman” and had a very comfortable if not relaxed on-set experience, that was certainly not the case for everyone – especially his costar Ray Stevenson and writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh.
“The guy who had it the toughest was Ray because he worked every day all day,” D’Onofrio explains. “I think he would give you a different story. I was only there in and out about a month playing the part so I just had to pass the time. I wasn’t worked very hard. But I could tell that it was rough on Jonathan and Ray. They worked very hard.”
In “Kill the Irishman,” which will be available on DVD beginning June 14 at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley, Stevenson portrays Danny Greene, a tough Irish thug who, while working for mobsters in 1970s Cleveland, ignites a turf war that leads to the collapse of the Mafia in several major U.S. cities.
D’Onofrio plays John Nardi, an Italian-American labor racketeer and ally of Greene. The actor admits that he had not heard of this true story until reading Hensleigh’s screenplay. Moreover, there exists very little information about Nardi – and only one photograph – so D’Onofrio more-or-less created the character from scratch.
And it is not the first time D’Onofrio, whose roles include iconic director Orson Wells in “Ed Wood,” a farmer-turned-alien in “Men in Black,” a comatose serial killer in “The Cell” and a detective on television’s “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” has played a bad guy. The actor explains that such roles are the ones that are made available to him the most.
“It is simply the way the business goes,” adds D’Onofrio, noting that he feels blessed having such an eclectic group of films under his belt. “I do find them interesting, though, and very fun to play. My goal is to not repeat myself. I try to invent different people I’ve never met before but at the same time tell the story that the director wants to tell.”
However, of all the movies he has had the opportunity to star in, his favorite remains one of his first – 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket,” written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Then again, D’Onofrio acknowledges that there is not a single project in his filmography from which he has not learned something.
“As you get older, as an actor, and you have more experience behind you, you never stop growing,” D’Onofrio explains. “That experience gives you more confidence and makes you a less lazy actor. It’s not just the last role – it’s every role that you play or every film that you help make.”
D’Onofrio will begin filming “Rabbit,” a Jennifer Lynch movie in which he stars, later this month and plans to start production on his next project “Mall,” a commentary on social violence which he not only wrote but also produces and stars in, by this fall. Meanwhile, his feature-length directorial debut “Don’t Go Into the Woods” – a horror musical which he also wrote – will hit theaters this Christmas.
When asked why he chose a horror musical, D’Onofrio responds, “Just for the heck of it.”
“Kill the Irishman” (R – 106 minutes) will be available on DVD beginning June 14 at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.