William Forsythe on punk rock, Al Capone, and the worst script ever written

William Forsythe on punk rock, Al Capone, and the worst script ever written

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: William Forsythe has spent much of his career playing the prototypical tough guy, doing so with such success that it’s often surprising when he’s given the opportunity to show his comedic prowess in films like the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona or, yes, even Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Although Forsythe got his start in the late ’70s, working in the theater and in bit parts on TV and in film, his star began to rise after the release of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America. His dance card has been more or less filled ever since, including an acclaimed recurring role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as butcher Manny Horvitz.

Boardwalk Empire (2011-2012)—“Manny Horvitz” |
William Forsythe: Loved it. I really enjoyed my stint on Boardwalk. The first season I did it, he was… I mean, he’s a beautiful character. I just love that this man, this mensch, this blue-collar working man who, like many people during Prohibition, found himself in business. I loved the character. It’s interesting because people are, like, “Oh, he’s so this and so that… ” I said, “Until he killed [Angela and Louise], he wasn’t the bad guy in that scenario. They were the ones who were fucking him. All he did was basically try to get his money and deal with it.” It’s really interesting. And watching audiences’ reactions to it was amazing. I loved Boardwalk. I loved doing it, I loved what I did on it, and my hat’s off to them. I wish every show paid attention to quality like they do.

The A.V. Club: How did you feel about Manny’s demise? Did you get fair warning that it was coming?

WF: No, no, no warning. But I guess that’s part of the fun of doing Boardwalk. You know, if a guy could, he’d buy life insurance for his character. [Laughs.] Anything could happen. So, no, not really any warning, but… I knew. I guess I can say that. I never divulged the secret. But I knew the moment I walked into the house and killed those girls, I knew I wouldn’t be around. I mean, they kind of were acting like they were going to say, “Maybe you could join the show,” or whatever. But it ended up being, “Sorry, kid, you’re jumping off the plane.” It was pretty last minute. But I accepted it.

And you know what? They wrote a magnificent, beautiful scene for me to do. I loved that scene. Talking Yiddish with his wife. A man like he was, and yet… it’s a real loving world that he lives in, and I loved that twist. What I can’t stand about film today is when something is just surface. No research. People just being tough and mean, and that’s all there is to them. The real deal comes in a very layered package. Manny was a wonderful character, and I’m glad they invited me to do it. I loved doing that show. Their attention to detail, their love of that era, and their desire to get it right… it really counts. It’s rare today. There’s not enough of that going on. All the spices, all the beautiful things that make something rich… If people don’t know about something, and they’re not taking the time to know about it, then it ends up looking like some sort of fifth-generation film. But I think Boardwalk Empire is a fabulous show, and they let me do it the way I wanted to do it. I don’t think in the beginning they wanted me to play him with the dialect, but I knew it had to be that way, because, you know, he’s come over to America, he’s a blue-collar guy, a hard worker, and … he’s just a very interesting character. Very real.

Smokey Bites The Dust (1981)—“Kenny” 
William Forsythe: Oh, God, I remember that one, yeah. That was an interesting time in my life. I mean, I was just starting and… I think that was my second movie. And it was a Roger Corman-produced film, so I have my Roger Corman rite of passage. [Laughs.] Everyone from my time, and a little before and after, stepped through Roger Corman’s world. I’ll tell you the funniest moment of that movie. You know, it’s a goofy film. I’m in a football uniform chasing my girlfriend, and suddenly the assistant director and the stunt coordinator come up to me and say, “You need to put this hat on.” And I looked at it, and… it looked like one of those knit hats you put on a roll of toilet paper. And I was, like, “What? Why?” He said, “Look, I’m just going to be honest with you: Roger bought all of this footage of a guy in a truck wearing a football uniform, and he’s wearing this hat, and the truck crashes and… basically, that’s probably one of the reasons we’re making this movie. So just put the hat on and shut up.” So in the middle of the film, I’m going, “I’m coming, baby, I’m coming!” And I pull the knit hat out, I put it on, and away we go. [Laughs.] It’s just one of those moments. What can I say? I was young, and I was happy to have the work.

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)—“Franchise” 
WF: Oh, great movie. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead is one of the most underrated films. There were even different cuts of it. A wonderful film. A film with its own language and… originally the writer wrote a part in that movie, Critical Bill, for me. It was purposely written for me to play Critical Bill, who, of course, had the greatest entrance in movie history, beating a dead body. [Laughs.] But when I read it, I said, “I don’t want to play Critical Bill. I want to play this one.” And they were, like, “Uh, really?” But there was this amazing speech that had to do with kids and had to do with life, and… the speech was just amazing. So I did it. I even got a call from the Weinsteins to my agent saying that people were crying, weeping because of it. And then the next day, they cut it out of the movie. [Shakes head.] The whole reason I wanted to do the movie in the first place, completely cut out of it. Unbelievable.

Stone Cold (1991)—“Ice” 
WF: Oh, yeah. Worst script ever written. [Laughs.] We had no script. Madness. I just actually saw Lance Henriksen recently, and we laughed, because… basically, I don’t think there was one line from the script that we actually said in the movie. We made up our parts, which is why, I think, it has this cult life. Lance and I, we’re shocked to this day, because we were making this film, but… you know, we really didn’t have anything in it other than what we were doing. It’s shocking, when I go to a convention, how many people come up to me and talk about the film. So it’s a cult movie. But, hey, Ice, it’s my only Viking funeral ever. [Laughs.] It was a wild time, because I did that movie and Out For Justice back to back. When I was playing Ice, I had to have the strength; I had to get big, so I was lifting weights and everything. I wanted to look like the real enforcer of a gang that we were working with, and by the time I started filming, we looked like brothers. We looked like a pair of bookends. So I accomplished it. The next thing you know, the job was over, and they said, “Hey, we want you to play this.” So I cut all my hair off, I was huge, and I played Richie.

Out For Justice (1991)—“Richie Madano” 
AVC: How was Steven Seagal to work with?

WF: [Hesitates.] You know, in the beginning, when I first met him, he was, like, “I want to make a movie that’s not a martial arts movie.” And I’ve got to tell you, Out For Justice was a great script. It was almost… it reminded me of, like, Mean Streets or something. It had this real quality to it. But, you know, once we started shooting, the nunchucks came out and the world went… [Trails off.] You know, he’s a great and talented martial artist. It wasn’t so easy to do the film. He’s rough, you know? He actually had something going that no one else has had since John Wayne. I think he fell off it a little, but he had something very interesting going, a whole audience that loved him for what he was doing. I think it’s one of his… if there are two of his films that I think are good ones, that’s one of them. And I got to film in Brooklyn, where I grew up, and I got to shoot a guy in front of a place where I used to take my girlfriends for pizza when I was 16. [Laughs.] So for me, that was great. That was the first time I’d ever really done a major film in New York, so that was fun for me.

I didn’t mind Seagal. Actually, there’s a part of me that really liked him. But then there’s that other side. I felt like he was mad at me because I was doing a good job, if that makes any sense. He walked up to me one day and said, “You know, you really need to work on your Brooklyn accent.” I said, “Trust me, you do.” And I don’t think he liked that. [Laughs.] But we made a good movie, and I have to say, it was exciting. I ended up with a cracked tooth from it, though, which I had to deal with afterwards, and it was in a scene that’s one of the least likely that you’d think it would’ve happened. I just got a little extra push, and my face hit a brick wall. I never even said anything about it. I knew it was gone, so I survived the movie and then I had it replaced.

CHiPs (1982)—“Thrasher” 
WF: Oh, yeah. [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s funny, because I used to be a doorman at the Troubadour, and one of my jobs was on Punk Rock Night. All of the punk-rock bands of the era would come in and play, and my job on Punk Rock Night was that I would go into the slam pit, and… I was 24 or 25, and I’d slam dance in the pit. Basically, what I was there for was—punks would grab girls who were walking by and throw them into the pit and start pounding on them—so my job was to slam over, free the girls, and then if the guy just kept doing it, my job was to slam over, look at the other door guys, and slam him to where they could drag him out of the place. So I had a lot of experience. And it’s funny, because some of the actual extras who were in the show were all these kids that I used to deal with when I was a doorman at the club. If you ever watch that clip, they’re throwing beers at my head. And I’m moving! You watch: They’re throwing them right at me, these kids are trying to hit me, and I’m… [Bobs and weaves.]

My favorite group was Fear. This guy Lee Ving, I watched him put a steel toe right through this guy’s mouth and not miss a chord. He was the guy I thought about when I thought about Thrasher. He was my favorite guy of that era. I wasn’t even a punk fan, but he was just so real. So he was the thought in my head when I was going there. But come on: I had a Mohawk, and Ponch and Jon were after me. Again, I was just very glad to get the work. And, you know, here’s a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not moment for you: That part was the only decent piece of footage I had to show to Sergio Leone when I was after the role in Once Upon A Time In America. So I actually got Sergio Leone to watch an episode—unedited!—of CHiPs. [Laughs.] And he watched it… and I got the job!



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Once Upon A Time In America (1984)—“Philip ‘Cockeye’ Stein”
WF: The greatest gift I was ever given. I mean, people ask me all the time about my favorite movie, and I don’t really know how to pick a favorite, but I usually pick that one because, without Sergio, I wouldn’t have the rest of them. I mean, he gave me a chance to go from Thrasher to the big time. I owe him a lot. Him and Robert De Niro, because Robert approved me as well. It was an experience that was life altering, to go and work with such profound artists and in a project where everyone really wanted to make something great. I wish I felt more of that today. It’s the rare project where everyone has that energy, you know? It’s kind of a spoiler, really. At age 27, you start thinking, “Maybe they’ll all be like that.” But if you’re lucky, it’s one out of 10 or 20 that has that kind of special energy.

AVC: What were your thoughts on the American cut of the film?

WF: Well, we all hated it, but it broke Sergio’s heart. I mean, the only European director in history who made movies about America, and what did they do? They brought in the editor of Police Academy [Zach Staenberg] to butcher his movie because the company was afraid. So they put out a two-hour-and-20-minute version that feels longer than the five-hour version because it makes no sense. It was terrible. And can you imagine? I waited two years for it to come out, thinking it was going to be the break of a lifetime, and then when it came out, they put out that version, and it opened to a sleepy audience. Worldwide it’s one of the biggest movies in history, and in America it’s a cult film. Everywhere else I went I was treated like the president, but not here. It’s so weird.

AVC: When we asked Elizabeth McGovern about it, she said the butchering of the film was almost too extreme for her to be horrified by it.

WF: Yeah. Like I said, we all hated it, but poor Sergio. [Sighs.] He made American movies, but he was over in Russia preparing to make a movie when he passed away because he had given up on us. He was going to go try going the other direction. But it wasn’t in the cards.

Fame (1984)—“Snake”
WF: Oh, man. [Laughs.] Back then, I needed a filmography, and… I mean, that was a good part. Plus, it was Fame. But it was a good part. I got to go in and show some personality, put out a vibe. Those things were funny. I went off and did Once Upon A Time In America with Sergio, but it took two years before it was released, so I went back to L.A. in basically the same position I was in right before I did Once Upon A Time In America: scrapping and struggling to do work and trying to put together footage. So it was funny, some of the jobs I did in the interim, and that was one of them. But I liked it. It was fun. And, of course, all of our rapper friends were on TV shows and everything back then, too. Ice-T was on Fame. [Laughs.] Everyone was there. It was great. There we were, all of us kids. I was probably at least a bit older, but not by much.

The Waterdance (1992)—“Bloss” 
WF: Bloss was an amazing character. What was very interesting about Bloss was that he was the type of character that you really feel is not going to survive, that he’s not going to make it, but he ends up being the person who has the largest arc, who finds acceptance and puts it together. Yeah, he’s obnoxious. He’s a self-centered little bully on a wheelchair. But he ends up having an epiphany, and… it’s just a beautiful character in a beautiful film. The Waterdance was made for all the right reasons. Everybody that was involved in the film gave it their all. To this day, I still think it was Wesley Snipes’ best work, and I wish that, when he comes back, he’d sit down and focus on that, because he had such heart. And then there was Eric [Stoltz] and Helen [Hunt] and… really, this cast was just amazing. And so was our director, Neal Jimenez. It’s one of those films that, when it’s over, you’re happy that you made it forever. We were all living in wheelchairs to various degrees, going everywhere in wheelchairs. It was very interesting seeing that perspective, seeing it from that point of view.

AVC: Did you do any advance prep work to get a better handle on feeling comfortable in a wheelchair?

WF: Oh, yeah. I mean, we probably all did it in our own way, but I did it a lot. I went everywhere with, and you find there’s little things that we don’t think of. Being up on a curb with no way to get down, going uphill… Sometimes just the slightest thing can be very different. But we got really good in the chair, actually. Wesley and I, we were tricksters. We got to the point when we were doing that scene that we could do a lot of things. You can really do amazing things in a wheelchair. It’s very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, but you can even go up and down stairs in a wheelchair. But, man, you have really got to know what you’re doing. [Laughs.] Yeah, I loved that film.

Raising Arizona (1987)—“Evelle Snoats” 
WF: Oh, boy. That was a blast. We all just took off for Arizona. It was really hard to keep a straight face on that film, it was so much fun. But it’s a masterpiece. It’s the only film I’ve ever done with the Coen brothers, but I’m glad I did it, because to this day it’s still funny. The Snoats brothers are funny, but everybody in the movie is funny. A lot of times films don’t hold up, especially comedies, I think, but that film could’ve been made yesterday. The only thing it’s missing is cell phones.

AVC: How were the Coens to work with? It was still relatively early in their career, but their sensibilities were already pretty well established even then.

WF: Oh, yeah, they had their style and the way that they wanted to make the film. It was very stylized. Certainly at that point in my career I’d been doing a lot of very serious parts, but comedy’s actually my favorite thing to do. It was interesting to try to find that crazy character in some kind of organic way, because, you know, as crazy as those characters are, they all live and breathe. They’re not so over the top that they’re not possible. They’re guys that live and breathe. It was a great experience. I’m a big fan of their films, and I do think that Raising Arizona is one of their best.

Extreme Prejudice (1987)—“Sgt. Buck Atwater” 
WF: Oh, you’re going back to all the good ones. [Laughs.] Extreme Prejudice is the last of the Mohicans. I don’t think we’ll ever see a film made like that again. It’s Walter Hill’s homage to Sam Peckinpah, and it’s just a gathering of some really amazing actors, heavyweights. Just to make a piece like that, something that just had this feeling of something long gone by... we’ll never see it again. But it was just a blast creating Buck Atwater, and then you had all these guys who are really nice, who are just one tick off-course in the world, so their causes are no longer clear. It was amazingly great working with all those actors. But it ended up being the only film I did with Walter Hill, and, to be honest, I thought I’d end up making a slew of movies with him. I loved working with him, and we got along great. Who knows? Maybe we’ll still get to work together again.

Dick Tracy (1990)—“Flattop” 
WF: Ah, man. Warren. Warren Beatty is a great director. I wish Warren would direct another film right now, because I’d love to do another film with Warren. I think that Dick Tracy is an outstanding film in its own right. I mean, I don’t think it’s Warren’s greatest film, but I’m honored to have been chosen by him, because he went out of his way to get to know my work and to get to know me as much as he could, and he wanted me to do his film. And here I was—I had a poster of Bonnie And Clyde on my wall when I was a teenager. It was just one of those wonderful things that happens to you. It was great. Of course, then I had to wear the makeup for six months, which is its own world of madness and torture. [Laughs.] But I loved it. It was a good experience, and I had a lot of fun when I made that movie.

The Rock (1996)—“Ernest Paxton” 
WF: You want to talk about a cast... there were some beautiful actors in that, all really great in their own right. A foray into a big, huge movie like that is a great experience. Michael Bay, what can you say about him? He’s a trip. He’s screaming, he’s yelling… it’s so weird. There were so many actors, so many cast members on the set that it was madness on that film in a lot of ways.

I remember once I was reprimanded on the set because I was making a hot dog for myself. We’d been shifting locations, and the craft service person, this really nervous woman, came running over, and… this is actually my funniest memory of the movie. This is three weeks into shooting, by the way. But she comes running over to me and she goes, [Sneering.] “Extras aren’t allowed hot dogs!” And I thought about it for a second, then I just looked her, and I smiled and said, “Well, I’m going to have it anyway.” So she stormed off to get security or whoever to get this upstart extra off the set, and she came back, and I was standing there with my hot dog, and she’s got this look like, “I’ll show you!” And the guy just looks at me, and he says to her, “That’s William!” So I ate my hot dog, but I’m thinking two things: the fact that, after three weeks on the movie, I was being forbade a hot dog, and, “I don’t know what the hell they’ve got for the extras today. Trail mix, maybe?” [Laughs.]

But I loved the movie. Sean Connery… talk about great experiences, getting to do a scene with Sean. I mean, I’ll tell ya, I had every James Bond thing there was. There were moments where, you know, it’s easy to be intimidated when you’ve got a really crazy love like I had for Sean, but I decided, “I’m going to take my chances with him in this scene.” And you know what he did? He reacted to those things, and he used them. And I was, like, “That’s what it’s all about.” Some people are tight, but Sean—I did a couple of risky things, I changed a couple of lines. The bit about “while you’ve still got lead in your pencil,” that was something I tossed in. And then when I went by Sean, I tapped him on the head. And that was a moment where he could’ve turned around and gone [Growling.] “Who the hell do you think you are?” And I would’ve gone, “No, no, Sean, I love you!” [Laughs.] But instead he reacted, you could see it in his eyes, and… that’s a real actor. That’s what real actors do. There’s not enough of it now. Some people don’t even understand the basics of it. But there’s a game that goes on, and when you’re working with someone else who knows how to play it, it’s great. And I think you can see that in that scene with Sean.



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AVC: Has there ever been anyone who you were so intimidated by that you couldn’t manage to do a scene properly?

WF: Well, you know, even when I was a kid, when I first began to do this, I knew that the most important thing, no matter what, is to be strong, and that your voice is heard, that you’re committed. But I’ve been awed by many actors. When you meet your heroes... like Marlon Brando, I crossed paths with him a few times and got to say, “Hello.” I was in awe meeting Jake LaMotta the first time. I was, like, “Champ!” [Laughs.] Suddenly I’m 12 again. So it seems to hit me in that way. But I can’t think of anyone who I was intimidated by. I’m sure it’s happened, but certainly not that much.

I will say that, early in my career, there was one time, and I won’t say who it was, but it was an old-time actor who just threw a complete fit. I remember when people were talking about that time when Christian Bale did it, and I kind of understand it, because when you’ve given it your all, and something’s not done right, it pisses you off. It may look foolish to other people, but fuck them, you know? [Laughs.] At the end of the day, you’re just trying to do the right thing. You may get a little tarnish on your reputation, but so what? It’s like going into battle to make something, anyway. But I saw somebody throw a royal fit early on, and when I heard about the Christian Bale thing, I’m like, “That’s nothing compared to the one I saw.” We’re talking red face, veins popping... but, hey, people are passionate about their art.

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)—“Detective Chuck Fowler” 
WF: That’s my knuckleball. [Laughs.] You have to develop a few different pitches, and I love to fool ’em. In a million years, no one would’ve given me that part, but I set up a meeting, went in, and… it was only supposed to be a meeting, because I don’t think anyone, including me, ever thought I was going to get it, so I just went nuts in the room, and I basically made them give me the part. I had a blast on that. But I love doing comedy. Rob Schneider and I had a funny work relationship, because my guy’s, like, constantly yelling in his face. And I got to the point where, if I just barely moved, he’d react. He was like a kid who’d been getting cracked his whole life, flinching whenever you moved. But I liked Rob.

John Doe (2002-2003)—“Digger” 
WF: That was the highest-paid bartender in history. [Laughs.] I think the first five or six episodes, I was in maybe one or two scenes. I was, like, “This is it…? Jesus, why am I here?” But then it started to pick up. I loved the sci-fi side of it. But I thought the show was doing pretty good, and then they pulled the plug on it. I don’t understand that. Once you start to get things semi-right, you’d think they’d let you stick around, especially when people seem to be watching. Go figure.

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)—“Sheriff Wydell” 
Halloween (2007)—“Ronnie White” 
WF: I love Rob Zombie. Rob’s just a dude, you know? He’s an artist, but he’s a regular guy, down to earth. And he’s a damned good director, too, and a lot of fun to work with. When people trust each other, you can have a lot of fun. You get to know people, and you see who does their homework, who’s on top of their game, and who’s faking their game. But people who are on top of their game, you recognize each other, and you know you can trust each other, and that’s usually when the best work happens.

Entourage (2007)—“Eddie” 
WF: Oh. Not much to say. It was, like, I got a call, “Do you want to be on Entourage?” I’m, like, “Well, whaddaya got?” And there wasn’t much of anything going on with the part, so I said to my agent, “So why exactly do we want to do this?” “Because everybody’s doing Entourage.” “Oh, all right, I’ll do it for you!” Then I got in, and I got to work with Mr. Piven—and I was very good friends with his father, Byrne Piven, because we’d made The Untouchables, where he played my mentor, Johnny Torrio. So Jeremy and I had a lot to talk about. His dad was a prince of a man: wonderful actor, a teacher, with a golden heart. That ended up being my joy of doing the show. That and, of course, meeting everyone there. They were all great. I just ended up not really having anything to do that had much substance as I would’ve liked while visiting that show.

The Untouchables (1993-1994)—“Al Capone”
WF: When my agents called me and said, “They want to see you for Al Capone,” I was really happy, because I’m a history guy, and I’ve done so much research and read a lot of books on many eras. Certainly with Capone, coming from Brooklyn before moving to Chicago was something I looked on. Also, my grandfather was Italian, and he grew up I’d say within 10 blocks of where Al Capone began. So it was interesting for me to be able to get into that. But I had to audition, so I went all out, went in and did my thing, and they gave me the part. And then I went crazy on the research. [Laughs.] No, seriously, I went nuts. It was the perfect time, when a lot of people from that era were still living, and I was able to have some of the most amazing meetings with people. Before it was all over with, I think I probably ended up meeting over a hundred people that had met Al. I started in an area that was part of Al’s inner world. I had a wonderful introduction to a lady that was married to one of Al’s brothers.

I love doing research and really trying to find out what a person’s like, what kind of person they were beyond just what we know of them historically, because often it’s not always the same. Human beings… well, they’re human. There’s more to them than just the final results of the race. So if I can get into them, then I really love to get into them. And The Untouchables was fabulous, to get to know Al Capone through all of these people who had actual experiences with him. By the way, I never asked any question of any person that would’ve comprised any position that they may have had or still have. All I want to know is what a person’s like. History tells me the rest, but I want to know things like what this one woman told me, about how, when her baby was born, he gave them a diaper made of… I forget, but I think it was thousand-dollar bills. [Laughs.] “Welcome to the world, kid.”

Capone was a character. He grew up poor, he grew up hard, like so many people. To do the research, I followed the trail and went back to where Al grew up, the house where he lived, the school where he went every day, and so on. Halfway along the trail, though, there was a building, and when I got in contact with the person who was helping with the research, I found out that the building, which was halfway between Al’s home and school, belonged to Johnny Torrio, and it’s where all the guys used to hang out. It was the center, basically. And this little boy, he’d walk past the building every day on his way to and from school. It’s no surprise that, in short order, he’d be working out of that building. He didn’t work for Johnny then—they didn’t team up until later—but I’m sure they crossed paths. So, yeah, the research was amazing. I loved doing The Untouchables. I really tried to capture as much as I could of the real Al. And when the scripts swirled into a world of complete fiction, I just tried my best to stay with who he really was.

The Mob Doctor (2012-2013)—“Constantine” 
WF: I wasn’t actively looking for a series. In fact, if anything, it was closer to the opposite. I’ve done a few series, and I really enjoyed it. I did The Untouchables years ago, and I loved doing that. Because of the character, I loved it. But then I found that I did some other things and… I wasn’t quite in the right place. So I kind of was, like, “I’ll never go on TV again unless it’s a part I really can get behind playing every single day.” When this came along, it was most unusual. I read it, and I was, like, “This is a real Chicago story.” This is a story about somebody whose cousin is this, and… it had these connections that were very real to me, knowing Chicago, and it was well written. And then I found it ironic that, in my last episode of The Untouchables, I went to jail, and then literally the exact amount of years from the time the show ended was my jail sentence as Constantine. So apparently I got out. [Laughs.] So I already had a good feeling about it, but then I checked out Jordana [Spiro], and I loved her. She’s really got talent, and she’s just got this quality to her. I knew I could have fun. Plus, I love Chicago, so it was a natural fit. It just came along at the right second.

AVC: The title of the series got a bit of ribbing from the critics. “She’s a doctor for the mob…? I’ve got it: We’ll call it The Mob Doctor!”

WF: [Laughs.] You should’ve seen them. I remember there were days where they were talking about the title and trying to find one. They almost had a bounty out. But, look, I think it’s fairly decent. I took two days on it myself, and I didn’t come up with anything better. In fact, Mob Doctor was one of the ones that I thought of, too! Even when we shot the pilot, it was still untitled. That was the hardest part. Our story was clear before our title was. But I’ll tell you, whatever you may have thought of it, it was getting through to people in Chicago, anyway. My girl and I were looking for a house there, and she didn’t even bring it up before the guy said, “Hey, you know, this new series is going to be filming here, and me and my friends can’t wait!” So maybe it didn’t work. But if it had worked, they wouldn’t have cared what the title was. All I know is that the people who were watching it really like it. But they put it up against The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, and NFL Football, so… I don’t know what to say. Those are all iconic shows. But I liked it. Every night, I said a little prayer: “Maybe they’ll move it, and maybe then it’ll be a hit.” But it didn’t happen. I had a great time doing it, though, getting to go back to one of my favorite cities and re-experience what I got to experience 20 years earlier. It’s always sad to be on something that you think has potential and is going to have wings, only to see it fall, but… onwards! [Laughs.]

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