In actor and filmmaker Danny A. Abeckaser’s “Mob Town”, the FBI and a local cop track various members of organized crime families as they gather for a huge meeting in upstate New York in 1957. Though released hot on the tail of “The Irishman”, Abeckaser – who also appeared in Martin Scorsese’s film – believes his film is a different kettle of fish to the former and appreciates that the Netflix film has helped increase the audience’s appetite for gangster films.
I have to ask, as a fan of the film and as someone who will be urging folks to see the movie (read my review), is it hard to be releasing so soon after an epic gangster film like “The Irishman”?
No, I think it’s a huge benefit to us. I think this really helps us. A lot of the press I’ve done for The Irishman, they have mentioned Mob Town so we’re kinda riding that coattail and I think that’s great. Um, and I think right now people are back interested in gangster movies. They’ve been gone for so long, so I think it’s a huge advantage.
This is a much more intimate, lighter look at the mob though. The films are chalk and cheese, wouldn’t you say?
Well yea, I mean, it’s a totally different take on the mob because we wanted to tell it through the eyes of the state trooper. So, it’s not like your typical gangster movie, no.
What works so well about “Mob Town” is that there’s a huge emphasis on the character and the story. Can you talk about the script and how it evolved once you got involved?
Yea, when I first got the script, it was a totally different script. The movie was told through the eyes of the mobsters. It was all about them and what they talked about in the meeting and blah, blah, blah,…I wasn’t interested in that. Everyone has seen that movie a million times. I was interested and once I got it, I told the guy that had the rights to the script, I said ‘Look, if I’m gonna do this then I’m gonna hire a writer and redo the whole thing and I’m gonna tell it through the eyes of the state trooper.’ So yea, I was very involved and I really saw that was the right way to tell the story.
Did you always intend on playing Joe Barbara yourself? You’re terrific in the role – – you steal near ever scene you’re in, even against some of the ‘heavyweights’ (for lack of a better word).
Wow – thank you! Ok, well, the truth is I was gonna direct the movie so I kinda wanted to talk myself out of playing Joe Barbara because I knew how hard it was going to be. So I said there’s one guy who I’d let play this, and if he says ‘no’ then I’ll play him. He obviously couldn’t do it, he was scheduled to do something else, so I decided to jump in and do it myself. Yea, I appreciate that! Actually, I was watching the movie a couple days ago, again, and I thought my performance was pretty good, so I’m happy with it.
David Arquette is going to surprise people in the film too. His performance, not unlike Stallone’s in “Copland”, will really touch and resonate with audiences. What made you think of David for the role of Ed Croswell?
You know the funny thing is, he’s a friend of mine of 20 years and when I thought about a state trooper, like, for some reason in my head I just saw David Arquette in a uniform because I’ve seen him so many times play a cop. I called him – I was like, ‘Dude, I got this script…’ and I just love him. He’s such a great guy and he really has the biggest heart in the world and it comes off in his performance. I was thinking to myself, I was like ya know, I think David Arquette’s my guy. I know him personally, I know his personality and I thought if he brings his real personality into the character, he’s gonna do great. And I think this is gonna be great for him, I think people are gonna see it and enjoy it and it’s really gonna bring his career back the way it should be.
Did you get to meet any of the real-life folks that are portrayed in the movie? And did they insist on some things being excluded from the film?
No, but they keep calling me. They send me messages, their families….most of them are dead, it’s just their families that keep contacting us. I honestly did so much research and read so much about it that I didn’t really need to speak to them.
What’s the future hold? Will you try and continue doing double duty in films -starring in and directing features?
You know, my last movie I did not act in, I just directed it. Um, I don’t know…I just love making movies. I love the whole thing – I love making them, I love acting in them, I love producing them… I’m a filmmaker – I love telling stories. I think people really enjoyed my performance in The Irishman and they enjoyed my performance in Mob Town, so I think I’ve got something going on with that acting stuff a little bit. But, I love directing, so I probably am gonna do both.
“Mob Town” is in theaters, on VOD and Digital HD now.