If you were casting a cop, a gangster or a “tough guy” role, in a drama or a comedy,in film or on television, you could consider yourself lucky if Dennis Farina agreed to appear in the role. The actor excelled in all of those parts and the many others he took on in his long and storied career. Farina died today in Scottsdale, Arizona. The reason stated by his publicist was a blood clot in his lung. He was 69.
Farina’s Hollywood career began behind the camera, as Farina, a former Chicago burglary detective, was hired as a special consultant for the 1981 Michael Mann film, Thief. Mann gave Farina a small role in that film, and would use the actor again in a reoccurring role in Miami Vice, the co-lead in the greatly underrated TV series, Crime Story, in the film Manhunter (where Farina originated the role of Jack Crawford) and, most recently, in the short-lived HBO series, Luck.
The actor was able to parlay his natural talent and tough guy persona into a 30+ year acting career loaded with memorable roles is iconic films such as Midnight Run, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Saving Private Ryan, Striking Distance, Snatch and many more. He also served a 46 episode stint as Det. Joe Fontana in the iconic Law & Order TV series and his most recent work was a reoccurring role in the Fox series, New Girl.
On a personal note, Dennis Farina was one of my favorite actors (as Crime Story was one of my favorite TV series of all time). I found he always rose to the material, often times rising above it. Hollywood is a little poorer now that it doesn’t have Mr. Farina to work with anymore.