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R.I.P. Dennis Farina (1944-2013)

R.I.P. Dennis Farina (1944-2013)

There are all kinds of actors. Big, A-list names that get all the juicy leading roles, thesps who command the awards season with one flashy turn after another, year after year, and then there are the guys who show up, do the work and move on. They don’t always get the recognition they deserve because they make it look easy, but they are the kind of character actors directors know can deliver exactly what they need and the types that fellow colleagues hold in esteem because they’re just that good. And today we’ve lost one of those actors, as Dennis Farina has passed away at the age of 69.

As we said, you won’t find Farina’s name on a list of Oscar nominees or Palme d’Or winners, but the list of filmmakers he worked with over his career speaks for itself. Michael Mann was his foot into the industry, starting as police consultant in “Thief,” which wound up leading to a role in the film. And he became a regular for the director, appearing in “Manhunter” and Mann’s TV series “Crime Story,” “Miami Vice” and more recently, HBO‘s “Luck.” He gave memorable turns in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan,” Guy Ritchie‘s “Snatch,” Steven Soderbergh‘s “Out Of Sight,” Barry Sonnenfeld‘s “Get Shorty” and more. And let’s not forget his ace turn in “Midnight Run” either.

Farina’s career saw him make a mark on the small screen too, not only in Mann’s shows, but also on the long-running “Law & Order,” given the task to fill the huge shoes left behind by the late Jerry Orbach and also appearing in the acclaimed mini-series “Empire Falls,” whose cast included Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Philip Seymour Hoffman and more.

It’s hard to accurately sum up the appeal of Farina; his characters often commanded a brusque authority but were also warm as well, and he was gifted at making even his most unlikeable portrayals relatable and real. Able to swing from comedy to drama, sometimes at all once, Farina is part of a group of faces that are always a pleasure to see on screen, and it’s one we’ll definitely miss. [AP]

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