On screen, Denis Leary is a fast-talking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, hitman-type character who would shoot just about anyone.
In his new movie, Suicide Kings (Live Entertainment), Leary lives up to this image, but sitting down to talk with him reveals a different side.
Sharing french fries with Leary at Planet Hollywood may sound intimidating, but within the first two minutes of talking, Leary proves he is down to earth, articulate and funny.
Leary’s hard-edged image softens when talking about his wife, writer Ann Lembeck; his eight-year-old son, Jack; and his six-year-old daughter, Devin.
“I love my kids. I’m not spanking them. I find waving a gun around works,” Leary jokes in an interview in US Magazine.
Leary is not always kidding around. He takes his work seriously, and it shows. This year alone he has acted in five movies: The Matchmaker, Wide Awake, The Real Blonde, Wag the Dog and soon-to-be-released Suicide Kings.
“(Acting in films) is not movie magic. It’s plain, old fashion hard work,” Leary said.
When working on Wag the Dog with Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, Leary said that “it was hard not to laugh when they improvised lines.” Leary explained that Hoffman could show his sense of humor while at the same time, maintaining his character.
In Suicide Kings, Leary plays a hitman with a shoe obsession. Leary was drawn to the project after reading the script. His favorite scene in the movie is when he beats up an abusive father, but for Leary, it was not that difficult.
“It’s not hard to walk in and pretend like you’re beating the hell out of somebody with a toaster,” he said.
On the subject of music, Leary always has an opinion. He has been known to make fun of Sting for his receding hairline, as well as poking fun at other stars. Recently, Leary created a controversy when Janeane Garofalo parodied Fiona Apple’s speech at the MTV Music Awards on his new CD, Lock n’ Load.
A Rolling Stone reporter then played the parody titled “Reading from the Book of Apple” in front of the young singer during an interview, causing her to break down and cry.
In an interview conducted by Denis Hamill in Daily News, Leary commented on Apple’s reaction.
“Over the years I have made fun of Sting, Don Henley, Michael Stipe, all these rock guys, and I’ve run into a few of them and they all have a pretty good sense of humor about it . But in Fiona Apple’s case, well, she’s 19. I guess she just hasn’t developed a sense of humor about it yet. Then again, I don’t know if I was 19 and a rock star, if I’d have a sense of humor yet either,” he said.
In the movie The Matchmaker, which was released last fall, Leary worked with Garofalo again.
“She’s one of the funniest people I’ve worked with,” he said.
Leary does not speak as highly about some others he has worked with. He said he didn’t get along with the director of Two If by Sea, a film in which he starred along with Sandra Bullock.
“We were looking for something to do together, but unfortunately the director was a complete . moron,” Leary said in the US Magazine interview.
Leary said his favorite movies are The Godfather and Raging Bull and Crocodile Dundee. No . Just kidding. God could you imagine if it was?”