“The Last Rites of Joe May” is the story of a proud man, the last of a dying breed.
The film, which is now available on XFINITY On Demand, follows aging small-time hustler Joe May (Dennis Farina), who returns to his Chicago apartment after a lengthy illness to find that the landlord – who thought he was dead – has trashed his stuff and given away his place. Ailing, homeless and alone, Joe sets out to turn his luck around, driven by pride and the unshakeable belief that he’s one big score away from glory. And although the world has written him off as a “has been,” there’s nothing Joe won’t do to leave a legacy.
In a recent interview with XFINITY Entertainment, Farina said “Joe May” is a movie for people who appreciate compelling and original storytelling.
“[The film] is what movies are supposed to do,” Farina told me. “I think they’re supposed entertain you and you’re supposed to go away, hopefully, a little wiser about what you just saw.”
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The 68-year-old actor is a veteran of film and television, appearing in more than two dozen movies including “Manhunter,” “Get Shorty,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Snatch,” as well as the TV series “Miami Vice,” “Crime Story” and “Law & Order.” Although he has a 30-year career under his belt, Farina said he’s constantly learning, admitting that even he walked away from “Joe May” a little wiser.
“I think life is a learning process. I think we’re all a work in progress,” he said. “I’m always amazed when I get on a set. No matter what, I realize the more I do, the more I don’t know. The movie business changes constantly.”
“When I read ‘Joe May,’ I thought it was a really good script, but there were things in there that I hadn’t seen in any other script and that’s why I was so interested,” he added.
Among the movie elements antithetical to Farina’s resume are his character’s age and feebleness. The Windy City native spent 18 years as a police officer before heading to Hollywood, and has since played a variety of hard-nosed cops, smarmy mob bosses and slimy crooks. It’s safe to say Farina has eluded “playing his age” up to this point, but breaks the streak in “Joe May, portraying a man in the twilight of his life and all the vulnerabilities that go with it. And while “acting old” might be unnerving for a less secure man, this actor shrugs it off.
“Age never really bothered me,” Farina said. “I’m 68, so it’s just a number to me. To play it on film doesn’t concern me. I was just so interested in the character. I don’t think the character works unless he is aging. I think his age catches up with him. Very few people like him exist anymore. I think they exist, but they just don’t want to accept that their time is up, that time has passed them by.”
Thankfully, Dennis Farina, unlike Joe May, is in no apparent danger of being passed by. In fact, the star shies away from talking about his legacy or, like Joe, how he plans to “go out.”
“That’s way too deep for me,” he says, laughing. “I just hope I’m around long enough to make more pictures and be involved with projects like ‘Joe May.’ I’m very, very happy in what I do. Very happy.”