We spoke to Denis Leary about his role as Capt. Stacy in 'Spider-Man'
Denis Leary's turn in "Spider-Man" is a lesson in role-reversal.
The take-no-guff comedian best known for portraying an authority-hating alcoholic fireman on his old TV series "Rescue Me" plays Capt. George Stacy, the strict father of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who isn't too keen on Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) freewheeling vigilante street justice.
Emmy-nominated Leary, 54, delivers a performance heavy on improvisation and technique, which he said is exactly the type of role he loves.
amNewYork spoke with Leary about his turn in "Spider-Man," which opens Tuesday.
How did working on a big-budget film of this level differ from working on "Rescue Me"?
Leary: In a lot of ways it had a lot in common with the show. I spoke to Marc before reading the script, and he really described it as this small, independent acting piece. So I thought, 'Are they making some small version of 'Spider-Man?' Then I read the script, and it's this huge blockbuster movie. So I went and talked to him again, and he spoke the same way about it, he kept talking about teamwork and improvisation and acting and digging into the scenes, and honestly, when we went to work, that's what he was doing. So it wasn't really that much different, except, obviously, the kid has to put on the spider-man suit.
Producer Matt Tolmach has said that in this role you're "not the cool cat bucking the system." Did that ever cross your mind?
Leary: You know, at one point I said to Marc, what's making you think of me for this guy ? How do you look at Tommy Gavin , who hated authority, and was an adrenaline junky alcoholic, damaged guy, and get Capt. Stacy? But when I looked at the choices for the other roles, he obviously wanted to do an acting piece. Rhys is a great actor. And Andrew and Emma are just outstanding.
What was it like working with them?
Leary: They really are the real deal. ... There's one scene in the movie, a dinner scene where my character is first meeting Peter. I'm supposed to be intimidating him, and she's playing in my other ear. We were doing what was scripted, we were doing some improvisation, and after this one take, Marc comes in and he kneels down next to me and he said, "Hey listen, you've really got to step it up here." I wasn't able to intimidate him, he was coming right back at me. I didn't really realize just how good they are.
How was it being able to focus on acting, instead of writing and producing like you did on "Rescue Me"?
Leary: It was awesome. Whenever the 3D cameras sometimes needed to take a break, I'd just go back to my trailer and watch "SportsCenter." I'm like, wow, I don't have to rewrite anything or fix anything or do anything. It was awesome.
You've said that growing up you were a Batman kid. Has your allegiance shifted?
Leary: I suppose it has, probably. I mean, just on a financial level, I certainly have more invested in Spider-Man now!
Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera