Aidan Redmond in ’79 Parts,’ a Film by Ari Taub, Interview

 

Aidan Redmond, 79 Parts, period action/adventure/comedy hybrid, Ari Taub

’79 Parts’ by Ari Taub (courtesy of the film)

The film 79 Parts by Ari Taub screened and won the Audience Choice Award at the Soho Film Festival (2016) for its madcap comedy, gangster shenanigans and reminiscences of New York City at a time before 9/11, cell phones, Uber, Lyft, Via and “If you See Something Say Something.” I enjoyed the film (a hybrid- period/ action/adventure/comedy) for its performances, humor, and the gritty 1970s feel of NYC. Taub shot it in 16 mm, as a labor of love to get the ambience just right. Along with principal Aidan Redmond, 79 Parts features dynamos Eric Roberts as Douglas Anderson, Tony Lo Bianco as Vincent and Sandra Bernhard as Mrs. Fletcher, all in supporting roles.

Sandra Bernhard, 79 Parts, Ari Taub

Sandra Bernhard in ’79 Parts’ directed by Ari Taub. (photo from the film)

My review of 79 Parts appeared on Blogcritics (click here for the review). It was then that I had the opportunity to sit down with Aidan Redmond in 2016 and interview him.

As a celebration of the release of the film on VOD on all platforms, 7th May 2019, I reconnected with Ari Taub and Aidan Redmond, who plays Irish gangster Dennis Slattery in 79 Parts. In the updated interview Aidan and I chat about the film and Aidan’s career since 79 Parts. He and Ari Taub are thrilled that 79 Parts is screening today, May 1st at 6:30 pm, Wythe Hotel and screening room and bar.

Ari Taub, Aidan Redmond, 79 Parts, Eric Roberts, Tony LoBianco

Aidan Redmond is in ’79 Parts,’ by Ari Taub (courtesy of Aidan Redmond)

So what do you think of our city?

Well, I’m living here, 17 years now.

And you’re not leaving.

And I’m not leaving.

You could live in Dublin. Would you live in Dublin?

I could live in Dublin. I like to visit as often as my time in New York allows. But New York is my home for now. I was back in Dublin performing in a national tour of Marina Carr’s play, The Mai, last Summer (2018) . It felt great to be returning to Ireland, to perform in my homeland.

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from County Meath.

I was in Ireland at the Tyrone Guthrie Center on a fellowship. I met playwrights and screenwriters and that’s how I know there is a lot of work there. They respect actors with experience from America on their resume.

So long as the resume reflects dedication to the craft, all’s well. Nothing beats hard work, whether in Ireland or America.

Your background is in theater. What are some of the things you’ve done there and here?

My studies began at The Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin. In 2003, I moved to New York, shortly after a national tour of Hamlet with the Roscommon based Praxis Theatre Company, directed by Sam Dowling. I continued my studies at The Lee Strasberg Institute, and began pursuing a career in theatre and film in earnest. Most recently in New York, I’ve played “Dmitry” in The Yalta Game by Brian Friel and “Him” in Woman And Scarecrow by Marina Carr both at the Irish Rep. In 2014, I made my Broadway debut taking over the role of “Dr. McSharry” in Michael Grandage’s West End transfer of Martin Mc Donagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe and Pat Shortt.

Aidan Redmond, Conor Bagley, Two By Friel, The Yalta Game, Irish Repertory Theatre

Aidan Redmond in ‘Two by Friel,’ (‘The Yalta Game’), directed by Conor Bagley, at The Irish Repertory Theatre (Jeremy Daniel)

You were at The Signature Center in 2015? (A Particle of Dread {Oedipus Variations} by Sam Shepard)

I was. It was in  2014. I played “Laius/ Langos/Larry” opposite Stephan Rea and Bríd Brennan in the US premiere of Sam Shepard’s final play, A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations) directed by Nancy Meckler. That was a wonderful experience. Working with the late Sam Shepard was a great honor.

Now, to 79 Parts in which you have a major role. I thought the film was interesting, offbeat. How did the film evolve? How did you get the role of Dennis Slattery?

Well, I think, first of all, it’s Ari Taub’s (the director) love song to New York. He’d done a few shorts in the past and he wanted to tell a story based in New York. The script originally was written in the 1970s. It was shot on 16 mm to give it that look and feel. Everything to make it as authentic to 1970s New York was done. When I came to play the character, he was initially an Italian mobster, but then Ari and the producers thought it would be better to have him as an Irish guy. So then we reworked the story so that the backstory could reflect this.

You helped to contribute to the writing and the creation of the characterization.

Yes, in the beginning. But that’s going back to 2007, 2008, a long time ago. 

I think any time actors help the writer and director bring together characters, plot and themes, it has an organic structure that is grounded. I thought you were grounded in that character and believable. Did you base your character on anyone you may know like that?

Dennis is the kind of guy whose lived with trouble all his life. He’s grown up with it. He’s made his life from it. Taking advantage of it. His life has been spent dodging the system. When he comes to America he is drawn to a life of crime. He sets to work. He makes connections. He meets Vincent (Tony Lo Bianco), commits petty crimes here and there, this and that, then the chop shop. Vincent introduces Dennis to Vera, his daughter. Seizing the opportunity, Dennis marries into the family. When Vincent goes to jail for money laundering; Dennis takes over the chop shop. He uses the opportunity to bring in his crew with car parts from abroad. He meets Anna at his wife’s favorite bakery. They start an affair, he falls in love. From that moment on he begins to want out. Jack arrives on the scene and Dennis’s world starts to get very complicated. I think inevitably he’s trying to get out. He’s not so much a bad guy, as a guy who has gotten himself into a situation that’s too big for him.

Tony Lo Biano, Lisa Regina, Eric Robert, 79 Parts, Ari Taub

(L to R): Tony Lo Bianco, Lisa Regina, Eric Roberts in ’79 Parts.’ Photo by Naoko Takagi.

His development as a person is interesting.

He wants out and he wants to take Anna with him.

Your character is not wicked, and you make him likable. That’s where your grounding comes in.

I’d like to think there’s a little bit of good in everybody. You know…he can be bad when he’s put to it but he wants to live a better life.

Is this one of the larger film roles you’ve had?

I guess it is. I did a movie directed by David Barker called Daylight (2007) which was my first feature film. Shortly after that I played a role in I Sell The Dead directed by Glenn McQuaid. Since then its been mostly theatre with a foray into TV for Daredevil and then another short film I wanted to do, set in the South during the height of the Civil Rights movement, called Delta Girl by Jaclyn Bethany. This is one of the larger film roles though, yes.

Well, you’re focused in a central part of the film.

It turned out that way. Overall it was a very enjoyable experience.

You’ve said, “It’s not his story, it’s my story.” Was that the writer’s or your collaboration with Ari?

I think that came about over time. The script we had in the beginning was very different from the movie we had in the end. I mean the essence of it was still there, but it progressed as time progressed. We’re filming on such a small budget. We’d shoot for a couple of days and then we’d wait 6 months and shoot another couple of days. That spanned over three, four, five years. We were going back and forth a lot.

Eric Roberts, 79 Parts, Ari Taub

Eric Roberts in ’79 Parts,’ directed by Ari Taub. (photo courtesy of the film)

Whose story is it? How did that evolve?

Well, it’s the 1970s. Everyone’s fighting for themselves to tell their story to make their mark on the city. And I think what we found was what started off to be about Jack, ended up being as much about Dennis. To have the two of them face off against one another makes for a better story.

So that happened over time. I noted there were three people writing the script and then you were adding to it with the collaboration…

You know how it is. The actors get on set and something happens. At the end of the day, the actors probably know the characters better or at least as well as the writer. The scene begins to take on its own life. Then we had the voice over on top of that as well. So…

When did they add the voice over, at the end?

Pretty much. 

So he did the editing and then added the script for the voice over…

I think the voice over was always in the back of our minds. In ’79 Parts there are literally so many parts to the story, you can tell it in so many ways, from so many different perspectives, the more we could do to simplify the story, the better. 

Did you get to meet Tony Lo Bianco and Eric Roberts?

Only in passing. I had a one-sided telephone scene with Tony and a couple of scenes with Sandra Bernhardt. We got to sit down and talk. She was fun. 

How did you and Ari get together?

I was doing Daylight with David Barker. We were in rehearsals one day and Ari appeared. From that moment forward we kept in touch.

How do you approach a role. It’s different when as in this instance you were working with the director. Theater is very different.

I approach any role, whether for theatre or film, in a similar way. I like to learn as much as I can about the time and place. In this case, I believe the character of Dennis is not so much a bad guy as a guy in a bad place. If the audience can empathize with my character, then with luck they can sympathize with the scene. So I try to look at character in terms of the character’s humanity. Hopefully, then, when the character is thrown back into the mix, things happen organically. I like when the life of a character happens spontaneously on the set or stage. I like things to happen in the moment. If done right, whether on set or in the theatre, one never quite knows what is going to happen next, but it will be honest and therefore exciting – It’s this story now in front of these people.

Aidan Redmond, Jenny Leona, Irish Rep, The Yalta Game, Brian Friel, Two By Friel

Aidan Redmond, Jenny Leona in ‘The Yalta Game,’ by Brian Friel, ‘Two By Friel’ at the Irish Repertory Theatre (Jeremy Daniel)

It is what is so wonderful about live theater. Do you have a preference between film and theater?

I value any opportunity to work on character. When I was working on The Cripple of Inishmaan, I began as the understudy and afterwards took over the role. In a sense I had to fit my performance into a certain preordained box. For the US premiere of Mr Shepard’s play, I was taking over the role from the actor who had played it in Ireland. So within a certain framework, I still had boundaries. But in some projects, I’ve been able to originate the roll. I had that luxury playing Dennis. I don’t know where I drew him from, but he is a man in love to begin with – as good and honest a place to start as any… 

There’s this ineffable quality that is part of the artistic process. You evolve a process and one day leads to another…

There are certain things that can happen naturally in a performance that occasionally an actor may not fully understand or have a name for. So you know how to play it, but you don’t know what the note is. Once you’ve learned the notes then you can run the board.

Do you have other projects you are working on?

I am directing a beautiful play for the Mint Theatre Company called The Mountains Look Different by Michael MacLiammòir. We open in June and will run through the end of July at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row, 42nd street.

The Mint Theatre does great work. Have you acted with them before?

I’ve acted in three plays with The Mint as part of an ongoing exploration of the works of Teresa Deevy; The US premieres of Wife To James Whelan, Temporal Powers and The Suitcase Under The Bed. Directing Mountains will mark my fourth time working with The Mint Theatre Company.

So you will be at The Mint, and you’re constantly looking for film roles and theater. Anything on the horizon with film?

I’m currently working on a film called Son of The South, produced by Spike Lee and directed by Barry Alexander Brown. The film is shooting in Alabama and set during the Civil Rights movement in 1961.

Do you sing and dance?

I sing on one of the tracks in the movie. There’s a scene at the beginning of Dennis and Anna’s story where they are in the bakery and there’s a song playing in the background. That’s me.

Imperfect Love, Christina Spina, Aidan Redmond, Brandon Cole, Mihael Di Jiacomo

Aidan Redmond, Cristina Spina, ‘Imperfect Love,’ by Brandon Cole, directed by Michael Di Jiacomo (courtesy of the production)

As an Entertainment Journalist I have reviewed Off Broadway over the years and Broadway this year as a Drama Desk voter. I have had the occasion to review productions that Aidan has been in. One was Imperfect Love, which I reviewed for Theatre Pizzazz, Sandi Durell’s magazine about all things NYC Cabaret and Theater. The other review appears in Blogcritics.org of the  Irish Rep’s Two By Friel, The Yalta Game.

Look for Aidan Redmond’s Irish gangster who wants a better life in 79 Parts. online starting 7th May. You can screen the film this evening, May 1st at 6:30 pm, at the Wythe Hotel screening room and bar. Drop in and say hello to the film team and see Ari Taub’s love letter to New York City.  79 Parts will be on VOD on all platforms, 7th May 2019. Click any 79 Parts link to go to their website and see the trailer.

 

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About caroleditosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is an Entertainment Journalist, unpublished novelist, poet and playwright. Writing is my life. When I don't write I am desolate. Carole Di Tosti has over 1000 articles, reviews, and other writings online. Carole Di Tosti writes for Theater Pizzazz and other New York theater websites; Carole Di Tost free-lanced for VERVE and wrote for Technorati for 2 years until the site changed its focus and Blogcritics which is archived. Carole Di Tosti covers premiere film festivals in the NY area:: Tribeca FF, NYFF, DOC NY, Hamptons IFF, NYJewish FF. She also covers SXSW film.

Posted on May 1, 2019, in Actor Interviews, Film News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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