Dorri Olds Interview with Ray Liotta

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The Iceman“ is an intense, crime thriller based on the story of Richard Kuklinski, a murderer for hire who killed at 100 people and maybe more. Michael Shannon stars as Kuklinski who, unlike most hitmen, came home from “work” and enjoyed a quiet life as a loving husband to Deborah (Winona Ryder) and devoted father to their two daughters (McKaley Miller and Megan Sherrill). Kuklinski worked for the Gambino crime family, answering to Roy DeMeo played by Ray Liotta in his typical role as a really scary guy. DeMeo ponders whacking Kuklinski for his lack of loyalty but Kuklinski gets out from under DeMeo and teams up with “Mr. Freezy,” an ice cream man with a truck hiding frozen bodies (Chris Evans).
“The Iceman“ is directed by Ariel Vromen who co-wrote the script with Morgan Land. The cast includes newcomer Danny A. Abeckaser as Dino Lapron, Kuklinski’s only friend. Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer) plays Lapron’s. Robert Davi plays the role of Leonard Marks, Stephen Dorff plays Richard’s brother, Joey Kuklinski and James Franco does a cameo as Marty Freeman.
Ray Liotta is an interesting interview. It was candid; clearly not a canned script.
Dorri Olds: Do you think Richard Kuklinski was a sociopath?
Ray Liotta: What’s a sociopath?
Someone incapable of empathy and lacking a social conscience.
Any guys who kill for money, they chose that as their business. Mafia guys are all just insecure people who want their money. They’re like little seven-year old kids when they don’t get their way. I knew guys like that growing up in New Jersey.
Did you hang out with wiseguys?
Why would you ask me that?
Because you said you grew up with them in New Jersey.
Oh, that was in high school. I don’t think they were going around whacking people but they were hoods. Scary kids. I got chased by those guys over girls they didn’t want me with.
So what did you think of Kuklinski?
If you see the real guy, he’s way worse than Michael Shannon. He beat his wife. He put a knife in her back. Her kids corroborate the story that she was beaten a lot and in hospitals a lot. She was afraid to leave. He threatened her if she tried to leave.
Was your character, DeMeo, portrayed accurately in “Iceman”?
From what I read about DeMeo, he was a bad guy. There’s a book [For The Sins of My Father] about him by his son. He wasn’t well liked. They [Mafia guys] used him when the higher ups didn’t want to do it [murder]. He just kept begging to get made.
Do you think he was gay?
Not fucking gay. Why would you ask that?
Robert Davi alluded to it.
I think that says a lot about Robert Davi. He should stick to his character. I gotta smell Davi’s shit every time I walk into a room. [Scowls]
What did you think of David Schwimmer’s character, the killer Josh Rosenthal?
Rosenthal and DeMeo weren’t lovers. He was a Jew so he needed protection. Then DeMeo killed him. His son’s book said DeMeo got depressed after that because he was friends with Rosenthal.
There was a lot of talk about one of the press photos with you and Winona. What was that about?
I wasn’t holding her ass. I would never do that. I went to put my hand around her but in the photo it looks like I’m grabbing her ass. I got more press out of that than anything.
Was the set grim because of the dark characters you all played?
You gotta do whatever you gotta do to play a killer but no, the set wasn’t grim. It was a bunch of peacocks, Saying, “Ooh [effeminate voice] get outta my chair”
When you played Sinatra in “Rat Pack” did you feel like you things in common with him?
We’re both from New Jersey and we both say fuck, that’s what we have in common. When I played him I didn’t know his music. It was my parent’s music. The more research I did on Sinatra, the more confused I got how to play this guy. Stories about him were all different. It was much easier when I played the baseball player [Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams”].
What did you think of your character?
Roy [DeMeo] was crazier than all of them.
What about Chris Evans’ character “Mr. Freezy”?
He was the first to start chopping up bodies, but they were all nuts.
How do you hope people will feel when they walk out of “The Iceman”?
I want people to feel entertained. Transported to another place. I think they will. This is a really good movie.
How was it working with Brad Pitt on “Killing Them Softly”?
Brad Pitt’s a hack but I don’t know why that movie didn’t do better. This movie, “Iceman,” is better than a movie like, say, “Place in the Pines” [sic].
Why do you think you’re always cast in these dark roles?
I just made a movie with the Muppets and, no, I did not kill Miss Piggy. I kissed her. But when she started with her tongue I said, “Woah” [motions pushing her away]. This one guy, Danny Trejo, couldn’t stop talking to them. It’s like he thought they were real. [Looks down at his phone]
Are you looking for a Miss Piggy photo?
No. I’m seeing what time it is. I have to go to a movie.
As Michael Shannon was coming in Ray Liotta exaggeratedly rolled his eyes and scowled and said, “Michael Shannon? Good luck.”