Who wouldn’t want to work with 2 Oscar Noms, an Avenger and the Great and Powerful Oz? Jay Giannone got his shot and co-stars as a mob hit man in the new film The Iceman which stars Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Wynona Ryder, James Franco and Ray Liotta.
No stranger to blockbuster Hollywood films, Giannone who previously worked on The Departed and Gone Baby Gone and who has just wrapped on David O’Russell’s new film American Hustle, where he shares the screen with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jeremy Renner, sat down with us to talk about his latest role as ATF Agent Dominick Provenzano (pictured below with Michael Shannon) in director Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman.
How did you prepare for the role of Dominick Provenzano?
When I found out that I booked the role I immediately did my research and watched the documentary on The Iceman Richard Kuklinsky. I saw that my character the real life Dominic was actually talking about how he wore a wire on The Iceman and set him up posing as a hit man for the mafia. I called the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco Firearms) and asked for him but he was not easy to get a hold of. Apparently he didn’t make too many friends on the other side of the law so a guy like that is careful of whom he deals with. This is the guy that took out many mobsters with his team at the D.A’s office. After leaving numerous messages and him doing his diligence he finally contacted me at the end of that week. It was wonderful to talk to him. He was so helpful. He told me great stories about his undercover operation and how everything worked. He told me it took almost 2 years just to get a meeting with Kuklinski. He told me he wore a wire every time and that his life was at stake in every situation he was in. I felt that it was an honor to play a guy like this. Both of us being Italian made it real easy for me to play as I have a slight resemblance to him. He told me that I did a great job and to see that he was proud of my performance made me feel great.
How was it working with the director Ariel Vromen?
I met Ariel with Danny A who plays Richie, The Iceman’s best friend. I was filming SAFE at the time with Jason Statham. Ariel asked me if I was Italian and I said yes and proud. He said well I am making an Italian mob movie and would love for you to audition. I was extremely eager to do so and very excited. Not long after I got a call to audition and an hour after the audition I got the call from Ariel himself inviting me to play Dominic. I had to pull my car over cause I was driving and I got a little excited.
Working with Ariel was an amazing experience. He is a great guy, and very down to earth. He takes pride in what he does. He also wrote The Iceman with Morgan Land who is another cool guy. Ariel is the type of guy who gives you freedom and lets you make the character yours while directing and guiding. He is also the type of guy to take a camera and get on his hands and knees or lie on the ground, or sit in the back of a police car just to make sure he has perfection. The Iceman was done brilliantly to perfection. By far the best mob movie since Good Fellas.
How was it working with Michael Shannon?
Working with Michael Shannon was a dream come true. He is a true artist and actor. He is extraordinary. He made it fun for me as we got together and watched the documentary. We came up with a couple ideas to weave some of the dialogue between The Iceman and Dominic that was captured on off a wiretap back in the early 1980s. Ariel Michael and myself got together and discussed a few key words and I am happy to say that they made the movie. That was fun. Mike was in character the whole time as I was. We were all business. We did manage to go to dinner and talk a bit and he is a genuine guy from what I gather. It was a privilege to have worked with him and an amazing cast.
How did you get your start in acting?
I got my start in acting through my friend Jacky who was friends with the executive producer of a show back in the 1990s called Pacific Blue. Jacky along with his Dad Jack Sr. got me an audition, and I booked the show. Not long after that I was asked to audition for a film called Southie by the writer producer Jimmy Cummings and landed a role in that. That’s how I got my start. The business chose me. I am truly blessed because I am in love with acting. I was a rap artist and in the music business before I got in to acting. My mom is a theatrical actress so I basically grew up in the theater watching her perform and rehearse day in and day out, guess I learned something. My mom coaches me and always works with me on the characters I portray.
What has been your most memorable roles? And Why?
All the roles I do are memorable to me. None are any more or less memorable. They are all wonderful experiences. I play a lot of law enforcement officials and bad guys. I would like to broaden my career though and am currently doing that. I play a son in an up and coming film that I co wrote with Eric Watson, I am also producing the film. I am getting more involved in writing and producing as my career continues to blossom.
Who would you want to work with in the future?
I would love to work with Barry Levinson in the future. Sleepers is one of my favorite films and I hear Barry is getting ready to direct a South Boston based mob film. I am a Southie boy to the core and am excited for an opportunity to work with him. I would also love to work with Stephen Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Ed Swick, Ang Lee and any other film maker that shares the passion and love for filmmaking as I do.
I also always wanted to work with Robert DeNiro and I can finally say that I am indirectly working with him as we are currently filming the same movie with the amazing David O. Russell. DeNiro and I don’t have any scenes together but I pray that one day we will. That is a dream of mine. I am happy to be working with him on American Hustle. I can’t say too much about the film as it is under wraps and still in production but the cast is amazing. Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, who is my celebrity crush so its two times amazing for me, oh and Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams are also in the film. I am excited about this film too and the other 6 that I have coming out. It’s been a great year and I am blessed.
The Iceman is on limited release across the US from tomorrow. The film hits UK cinemas on June 7th.