By Nik Pressly
MM: Can you tell us how you landed the role of Lucky Luciano? Did you read for other roles or were you slated for Lucky from the beginning?
RG: I auditioned for four different roles before auditioning for the lead. Initially I went in for the role of Bugsy Siegel. After the fourth audition, the people at Chastity Thomas at Stephen David called and said, ‘Ok, we love you, the director loves you, all you have to do now is dye your hair black, put on brown contacts, and a vintage suit. Then we’ll send those photos into the network executives at AMC, and if they prove you, you’re in.’
After I went through so many auditions and call backs, and then finally reading for the lead role, it was all worthwhile. I got a call on the Sunday before leaving for West Virginia that I got the lead!
MM: What were some of the things you did to prepare yourself for the role?
RG: I began to contemplate on my memories of Sicilian people, people I knew in my childhood neighborhood who were involved in the Mafia. I remembered characters in ‘The Godfather’ that were Sicilian, spoke the language, and inhabited those iconic roles, because they too had first-hand experiences.
To this day, I almost can’t believe I was offered this role, because I grew up with not just ‘gangsters’ but the people who ran organized crime in America. That was something ‘You can’t learn about it in school, and you can’t have a late start’ as Al Pacino said in ‘Carlito’s Way’.
MM: How long were you filming in West Virginia and what was your typical daily routine like?
RG: I arrived in Martinsville, West Virginia on October 18, and we wrapped up the week before Thanksgiving. I worked every day of shooting, which was fantastic. I was so enveloped in the role that there were several one or two take shots. There were some nights when I woke up in my hotel room thinking we were still filming. My mind was sort of in between being awake and asleep and waiting for someone to call action! After a while, I realized no one was there and then laid back down.
MM: Was there anything in particular that you learned from this project that you would like to share with our readers.
RG: These Italian and Jewish ‘gangsters’ were really simple immigrants, who came to America in pursuit of their dreams, their own piece of Americana. Albeit illegitimately they were however extremely patriotic to America. Even after Thomas Dewey successfully prosecuted Lucky Luciano, and deported him back to Sicily, Lucky still felt the need to communicate to Dewey and the U.S. government what he knew of Mussolini’s strategies in WWII.
MM: Can you tell us about any future projects you will be working on.
RG: I’m in the running for a lead role in a new series that will be on NBC this fall, which I cannot speak too much about. I am however slated for the lead role in a new cable network series called ‘The Undetected’ which will be filming in NYC.
Photo Credit: John Mazlish with ‘The Making of The Mob’ Photos Provided by Rich Graf.