North Texas Daily

Interview: Frank Darabont & Ed Burns Enter “Mob City” and Talk Swanky Suits

Interview: Frank Darabont & Ed Burns Enter “Mob City” and Talk Swanky Suits

Interview: Frank Darabont & Ed Burns Enter “Mob City” and Talk Swanky Suits
December 03
14:33 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Frank Darabont, director of “Shawshank Redemption” (1994) and creator of “The Walking Dead,” leaves zombies and the beloved Daryl Dixon behind in favor of gangsters for “Mob City.”

This riveting and upcoming miniseries focuses on the historic rivalry between the cops and the mobsters for control of Los Angeles, which is surely the kind material that avid television fans are going to eat up.

The North Texas Daily had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Darabont and star Ed Burns (“Saving Private Ryan,” 1998) about embracing 1940s noir, wearing swanky suits and the story’s historical accuracies.

One of the things that I really love about television shows like this is the time period it’s set in. As a film and television fan, I really like this time period for shows and movies, because of the business and the movies that came out at the time. I’m curious as a show creator and a filmmaker, what’s an aspect from that time period that you wish you could’ve experienced?

Frank Darabont: “Oh, I wish I could’ve experienced the time period firsthand. You know, I’m glad I’m not 100 years old, but if I had a time machine and I could punch in a year, it would be post-war. It would be 1940s— during the war and post-war. It’s just so remarkable what happened to Los Angeles, because the city just started to grow and expand in a way that was unprecedented. It’s still growing and expanding.

Great opportunity for corruption and mobs and that’s basically what the story is dealing with— that post-war influx of growth and money, and influence and all that stuff. It’s great.”

I know this is a pedestrian question, but I am really curious as to how you got involved with the series.

Ed Burns: “Well, you know, Frank is the reason I jumped on board. I was initially very excited about the prospect of joining the cast. His team got in touch with me; sent me the script and said please take a look at the part of Bugsy Siegel. You know, I’ve been a long time fan of Frank’s work, and it’s one of those situations where you pick up the script, kind of keep your fingers crossed and hope that there’s a good part in there for you.

After I read the first scene with Bugsy, I was in. It was a no-brainer. I called my agent and said let’s go do this. A couple of weeks later I was on a plane to Los Angeles and then being fitted in some pretty swanky suits.”

Swanky suits? That’s great [Laughs]. Have you ever felt and looked so cool?

Burns: “No. You know, I mean I usually don’t play characters this slick. Certainly the wardrobe helps sort of put you in the mood. Bugsy is cool. I guess, you know, part of it is a little bit sexy. No. I don’t know that I’ve played a character that is this sort of smooth and cool.”

I bet you enjoyed it.

Burns: “Oh, I loved it. This is the most fun I’ve had acting since ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ It made me fall back in love with acting, quite honestly.”

Even though this is a fictional telling of the story, were there any particular elements that you really wanted to make sure to keep historically accurate?

Darabont: “Well, even in our historical accuracy we’re taking liberties. So I always say thank God it’s not a documentary. Certainly on the very basic level of what John Buntin wrote in his novel, and what we’re going to be telling is the— really the focus of the mob versus the police. It really came down to the story of Mickey Cohen versus William Parker.

John did a brilliant job of detailing— distilling everything to that dynamic, because it really was the fulcrum point of so many events and the entire power struggle, those two men butting heads. So that’s very much in the long game of the show. I wanted to be very accurate with the fact that Mickey Cohen rises to prominence as the head of the L.A. mob very much around the time or not too long later William Parker rises to the head of the L.A.P.D.

Suddenly, you’ve got these two guys who are running their shops, top of the show in their worlds, and their worlds conflict. Really fascinating set up for storytelling and John Buntin really delineated that so beautifully in his book.”

Mob City premieres Wednesday, December 4 at 9 p.m. on TNT.

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