In the vein of True romance, ROB THE MOB chronicles the lives of a real-life Bonnie and Clyde who made the bold move to rob and humiliate some of New York City’s most powerful mobsters. Fresh from prison for a small-time crime, reunited lovers, Thomas and Rosie, find themselves in need of cash. After hearing testimony from John Gotti’s high-profile trial that mob social clubs are gun-free, Thomas and Rosie brazenly rob these underground spots operated by the major crime families in the City. Unwittingly, they come across something much more valuable than money: a list of every mobster in the families. Now the feds, family members, and rival mobsters are on the hunt for the most notorious lovers since Romeo and Juliet.
Hi Andy, you produced and star as “Big Al” Fiorello the Mafia boss in the upcoming film ROB THE MOB – can you tell us how you got involved in the project?
Raymond (De Felitta) approached me with the screenplay by Jonathan (Fernandez). At the time, Nina (Arianda) and Michael (Pitt) were involved and Ray (Romano) had already been approached, I’m a great admirer of all three of those actors, but Ray specifically because we’re also good friends. Raymond came to me and said, “I have this project and I’d like you to get involved as producer,” because we had this relationship on City Island. He said something very touching to me. He said, “I can’t think of making a movie without you.” We wanted to continue this relationship that we have with each other as filmmakers and collaborators. He said, “I have this idea for this character. It’s still under development in the story, but read it and we’ll work on it.” So I read it and then both Raymond and Jonathan and I got together. I spitballed some ideas with Raymond, and then Jonathan went off to write and elaborate on them. You know, I love the film. It’s a beautiful film and Raymond’s done a great job on it.
ROB THE MOB is based on the true story of modern-day Bonnie & Clyde, Thomas and Rosemary Uva, who were famous for robbing New York Mafia joints back in 1992. Is your character “Big Al” Fiorello based on a real-life person?
Well, very early on we talked about who this character was. One of the things I remember suggesting was to change his name, because the real guy is the real guy and now we’re creating a guy, so just let it be an inspiration on these guys. We started talking about more on how he was a father and a grandfather and a cook. The person on who he is based on did have a food truck business and eventually got involved in the mob. I had been telling Ray about this thing that happened to me in New York about a driver that I had. He used to take me to work on a movie, but he would stop periodically in liquor stores in Manhattan to pick up these manila envelopes. I would go, “What are you doing?” He would say, “I have to go and pick up a manila.” He would go in and pick up an envelope or he would deliver an envelope. “I have to get to work. What are you doing?” He would say, “Don’t worry about it, Commander.” So it stood in my head that this guy was dropping off like numbers money. So we thought maybe that’s how my character got in to the mob.
When you first came on screen, you was unrecognizable! Can you tell us how you prepared for your character?
That’s my beard, it’s mine! (laughs) We started elaborating on what my character’s back story was and how did he become the head of the mob and that he got in there to provide for and protect his family. Ultimately that choice is what destroyed his family. The fact that he lost his son to a mob hit and now he had the grandson. Those were the things we were really interested in, not so much the mob guys. He is the head of the mob, but he wishes he could go back in time and not make those choices anymore. That to me was the way of the beauty of that exploration. You see a guy who realizes that he has all these regrets about how he chose to live his life.
As an actor, you bring all of your emotional baggage to every part you play. Those are the tools you have to fill these characters. You have to dig for those things within your own fabric of who you are and your life experience. I’m not acting at all. When Ray’s (Romano) character has issues in his life, the first place Ray is going to go to, is to find some sort of parallel in things that are directly related to his personal life. We don’t need to know what that is. That’s just a manifestation of what’s inside of you, the heart of the character that you’re working from. At that moment, you are the guy and you have his joys and his pains, and you’ve got to dig for those things within your own fabric of who you are and your life experience.
You have an incredible lead cast Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Ray Romano and supporting cast with Cathy Moriarty, Michael Rispoli, Burt Young and others. What do you find most enjoyable about making an independent film?
When you have good material, you’re always going to attract a good cast, that’s the essence of any independent movie. You never have any money for anybody — or even to make the movie — but what you have is the ability to attract great actors. In the independent film scenario, there’s a freedom when making a film, an innate freedom where you have a space to explore. It’s the spirit in which you go into it. It stems from the material and the excitement and the romantic idealism of just going off like gypsies and making a film that people will care about when they see it. Everybody is in this thing and it’s just like a big stew. That’s why Dallas Buyers Club was up for Best Picture. That’s a movie they shot in two weeks after 20 years. Nobody cared and they had no money, but look at the work that was done in it, because it’s the spirit with which you go into it. It stems from the material and the excitement of that, sort of the romantic idealism of making it. At the end of the day, people will care when they see it.
ROB THE MOB (cert. 15) is available On Demand & Digitally on 22nd September, courtesy of Solo Media.
(including: iTunes, Amazon Prime, Blinkbox, Film4 OD, EE Film, SKY Movies, Virgin Movies…)