Frank Darabont has already proven himself to be an incredible filmmaker, with such critically acclaimed titles as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, earning respect all throughout Hollywood. Feeling ambitious, Frank recently threw his hat back in the television ring with a little show called The Walking Dead, which he helped get off the ground. After leaving the show and not looking back, Frank’s now ready to unveil his new television project, Mob City, which will debut December 4th, 2013 on TNT.
Based on the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin, it’s a tale of cops and gangsters starring a stellar cast of Darabont usuals along with a couple of new faces.
On hand to promote their new series were some of those new faces – Edward Burns, Robert Knepper, and Milo Ventimiglia – ready to talk about the gangster lifestyle that all their characters exploit.
Burns plays Bugsy Siegel, one of the most notorious L.A. mobsters of the time period, with Knepper playing a fellow mob hitman and Ventimiglia playing a fixer for the crime family. Feeling good about being bad, the stars let us as far into Mob City as they could, giving us an idea of what viewers can expect.
As far as Mob City‘s connection to real life events, Bugsy Siegel was an actual mobster in LA, running the crime syndicate, but Milo and Robert play fictional characters. “Milo’s character is a fictional character named Ned who’s a lawyer, but kind of playing both sides of the fence,” said Burns, speaking to Milo’s incorporation. “Robert’s character is Sid Rothman, who is also a fictional character, who is the muscle of the operation.” Noting the negative connotations of their roles, Milo jested, “You’re basically hanging out with the crooks.” According to Burns, the first season will follow the L.A. law enforcers who instituted a major criminal crackdown in 1947.
Talking about getting involved in the project, every actor expressed how there was no hesitation joining Mob City. “Frank Darabont is Frank Darabont,” said Knepper. “I remember during the pilot I asked Simon Pegg that same question, and he said he’d been dying to work with Frank Darabont.” The crew went on to explain that when Frank Darabont wants you for a project, you say yes, because it’s an honor just to be drafted by Frank. “I put myself on tape, and as I hear, Frank said ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ – in a good way.” If you can make Frank Darabont swear like that, I’d say it’s a good way. Kudos Milo!
Looking at other cable station TV shows like The Walking Dead getting away with gore that primetime TV shows never could, the guys assured us Mob City will be just as aggressive. “It’s not network, it’s basic cable, I was pleasantly surprised. We’re allowed to do, show, and say almost everything. If you’re going to make a gangster show, you want that room to make it realistic, but also fun.” I’m guessing we can expect our romances steamy, shoot outs bloody, and language foul – just like a gangster would want it to be.
Getting a little more in depth about his role, Burns discussed what he brought to the role of Bugsy Siegel, saying “people immediately have to love him and fear him.” Playing off the notion of being bad guys, the cast explained how they channeled that inner “badass.” Milo chimed in first, saying, “I’m always bad, I don’t know. Look at me, I just look like trouble.” That’s the kind of attitude someone working with Bugsy needs, and Milo possesses the coy charisma of a double agent perfectly. “I’ve done so many romantic comedies, I couldn’t wait to beat the shit out of someone on screen,” Burns added. Yeah, I can’t argue with that logic.
So why does Ed Burns think people have taken so warmly to anti-heroes? “Part of it, quite honestly, is wish fulfillment. You guys are all in New York. Somebody bumped into you on the sidewalk, a cab cut you off, a guy in a deli pissed you off – you want to go Walter White on them, or Bugsy Siegel. You wanna’ take that fucker and bash his head through a window.” As a New Yorker, Burns really knows what he’s talking about, and bringing this hard-hitting nature to Bugsy Siegel, Mob City should have some very admirable anti-heroes.
Leaving us wanting more, Robert Knepper cleverly dodged our questions about specific script material. “One of the beautiful things about this show is that TNT wisely is going to air two episodes at a time for three weeks, right before Christmas. It’s one of those beautiful Christmas presents for everybody. You would spoil Christmas if you said what it was in that present.”
Alright Robert, you got us – we don’t want to spoil Christmas for everyone! Looks like you’ll just have to tune in December 4th to catch the first six episodes of Frank Darabont’s new series, determining if the final product rewards us for being nice, or punishes us for being naughty.