David Marciano talks about Due South and other things

Jen Johnston

Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk






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When he was on the show, we never missed an episode. It didn’t matter what the story line was, or how much screen time he had. We were dismayed when he left. Now on in re-runs every weekend, we tape the episodes. We sit, and watch, then go online and dissect every second of his performance; his glances, his barbs, his incredible speaking voice. We are Internet fans. We are a species unto ourselves. A massive species (speaking in volume of course, not girth). Believe it or not, we aren’t all the dweebs we have been made out to be. We don’t all live in our parents basements. Some of us usher out into the daylight to jobs. Admittedly, these are not our real jobs. These are jobs whose primary purpose is to put cheezies in the cupboard, and a sleeping bag on some semblance of a floor. Our real jobs are to maintain our “expert” classification on our love of choice.

Due South. It’s a pinnacle of success in Canadian television programming. (And no small source of pride.) It’s easily one of the most prosperous shows that the land of igloos and fishing villages has ever produced. This Hour has 22 Minutes may come, and Street Cents may go but Due South has persevered. How many Canadian shows can you name quickly that went off the air  years ago that people are still talking about? Nothing is in second place in the hearts of the online crew. We are aware of the Paul Gross sites out there that  have tried to argue with us. The people are out there who would insist that the Mountie was the most fun to watch on the show. We have heard their opinion. We don’t care.

David Marciano fans. We are also a species unto ourselves. A gargantuan species. As an example of our enthusiasm you might consider front girl Julie Bozza who maintains the foremost online resource for information about this man. (Not to mention a list of recipes inspired by the actor. After taste-testing them all with a chef friend of mine, the favourite is definitely ‘Pasta Marciano.”)  “With David himself, it was a combination of things that got to me,” says Julie. “His beauty. While he isn’t everyone’s standard idea of a leading man, he is definitely gorgeous on the outside-plus he’s even more lovely on the inside which shines through. David’s portrayals are always totally honest and complex. His skill and commitment to acting really brings characters to life, and douses them with subtlety. All this is nothing compared to his friendship. Knowing what a kind and generous man he is in real life has made me a fan for mine.”

Due South.David Marciano, a Newark, NJ native may be best known for his abrasive police officer on Due South but has quite a number of others under his belt. His first big prime time break came from playing a maniac on Wiseguy. Number of people consulted who cite Wiseguy as the show that made them fans: 12. He let a softer side show through with his Civil Wars character Jeffrey Lassick, a poet/bike messenger. Number of people consulted who quote Civil Wars as the show that made them fans: 34. He’s been nominated twice for a Gemini award for his role as the caustic police officer Ray Vecchio. Number of people consulted who quote Due South as the show that made them fans: 340. (NOTE TO DAVID’S FAN EMILY: Yes, he really is the  kindest person I have ever had the pleasure to speak with. He laughed at my jokes. Therefore I am a fan for life.) 

Talking to him over the phone, I found myself in complete agreement with Julie’s assessment of his appeal for David, even hundreds of miles away has a tangible, enveloping presence. Not many people can, in the space of five minutes, make you feel as though you’ve known them forever. We talked a bit about leaving “Due South,” and I asked if he regretted that decision. “No,” he responded “I don’t regret leaving. It was a financial decision, but most of all a family one. I really miss the people there, the crew,” he then added. “There’s a willingness to help on Canadian sets. It’s a very loving atmosphere. Everyone wants to pitch in and help, their entire focus is to make your job easier.” 

He then described a pilot he had developed called Columbus Station. (As yet, still no progress.) “The idea is,” David expressed, “to put the first manned space mission on Mars. There were the All-American couple who were to be the first to have a baby in space. Instead though, two other characters; a Russian cosmonaut and a scientific-type girl fall in love, and end up having the child. I was going to be the head engineer, the brains of the operation who keeps the whole thing running smoothly.” David then asserted (with which I agree completely) that it hasn’t been picked up because “it’s not real enough yet. People want science fiction, this is more science fact.” (Jen’s note: Trouble is, now I’m dying to see the show. I have Sean Bean (Goldeneye) in my head for the Russian cosmonaut.

David’s first foray into daytime TV was on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. “I played thug #1,” commented David. “I held up a rich lady for her jewels.” This was not a tremendously positive experience for David however, as he said “It was horrible. It was over too fast. I really felt swindled.” That positive experience he hoped for was to come a little later on a show called Wiseguy.

“I’ll never forget it,” declared David. “I was in an acting class with Jonathan Banks, and then, all of a sudden, he just stopped showing up. I found out he got the show, and thought that was great. Then he got me an audition to play Lorenzo Steelgrave.” After doing well at the audition, he was told he would hear on Friday of that week. Friday came, his agent called and said “There’s still no decision.” Monday, he was told that he was to leave Tuesday morning at 9:00 am to go to Vancouver to film. 

David feels he owes a lot to that show. “Wiseguy really opened doors for me. My character, (Lorenzo Steelgrave) was a real loose cannon. He’s the type that everyone wants to play. It aired, and suddenly everyone wanted to meet me.” I inquired as to whether the fact that Hollywood was suddenly looking in his direction was more intimidating or flattering. “I was young and arrogant,” said David “I think any fear manifested itself through that.”

David described how he got his part in Lethal Weapon 2. “I had been having a really bad time with my pilots, and went to the audition really bummed out. I had been waiting to see Dick (Richard Donner: Director) for about an hour and was about to leave when Tommy Hinkley (appointed best friend) showed up and convinced me to stay for the audition. A week later my agent called me and said ‘You’re in, but they don’t want Tommy.’ Since he was the whole reason I stayed for the audition I said ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not doing this without him.’ everyone thought I was crazy.” David then went to solve this problem, writing extra scenes to put both Tommy and himself into the movie. They (the scenes) were presented to Donner, who wanted a command performance on the spot. Sadly for the movie going public they didn’t get into the final product. (It’s especially sad for me, because David described to me a scene in which both he and Tommy’s characters were to have raffled off a live thanksgiving turkey in the police station. In detail. There was a rap involved in this pitch. A rap that sticks in your head. Which means that since speaking to him I have walked to work singing ‘Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on a Thanksgiving turkey.’ That is until the passing drivers start looking at me funny, and I find it necessary to meander away at speeds approaching 60 kilometres an hour.) David’s writing may not have made it into the film, but his confidence and creativity did net the duo an extra three days of on set work.

I quizzed David as to who his greatest influences were. “My fans have really kept me going during tough times,” he answered “but my number one influence has always been my wife. I’m very grateful to Jonathan Banks and Stephen J. Cannell (Both from Wiseguy) for taking a chance on me.” Though people have compared him most frequently to Alan Alda, Jude Law, and Stanley Tucci, David quotes one of his biggest professional influences as being Eric Roberts. “I remember watching The Pope of Greenwich Village and being completely blown away by his (Roberts’) power. I transcribed scenes, and remember looking down at the words themselves and thinking that power wasn’t there, it was what he brought to the role that made it great. And Star 80. That movie was brilliant.” David also lauds Tom Hulce, (Amadeus) Sean Penn, (Casualties of War) and Dustin Hoffman (Straw Dogs) for having influenced his style.

I asked how he’s felt about the range of roles he’s had the chance to play thus far in his career. David replied that while Giorgio Ciericuzio (The Last Don) was one of his most “mature roles,” and confessed that he “wanted to be Jeffrey,” (the sensitive bike messenger on Civil Wars) the role he’s found the most difficult to play is the one for which he is the most beloved; Due South’s Ray Vecchio.

“By the third or fourth episode I found I was really floundering,” said David. “Benton (the Mountie) was the superhero character on the show, and Ray was the foil, and to make that work Benton needed to be right almost all the time, leaving Ray... well... I was having trouble liking him. I think that in order to make a character work you need to like him, that’s what fuels your performance, that’s what inspires you. I went to my acting coach and told her I was having problems. She said ‘all you have to do is find one thing that you like about the character and cling to it. Find what’s at his heart.’ I thought about it. Ray’s got no wife, he’s got unsolved cases, so he’s not a very good cop, but at his heart he’s a good and loyal friend and I really love that about him.”

A big part of David’s appeal is (according to fans, and after talking to him I completely agree) that he is a very giving man, not only towards his admirers, but also towards his fellow actors. 

Re: Providence co-star Mike Farrell (B.J. Honnicutt M*A*S*H): “Mike’s a great guy. He’s totally unfettered by fame. He’s very down to earth.”

Re: Due South co-star Paul Gross (Men With Brooms): “Congratulations to him on Men With Brooms. Our working relationship was so easy. I miss that.”

Julie talks about David’s giving nature, and how it has earned her loyalty. “What really inspires my devotion is his friendliness towards his fans. He treats us as if we’re his fellow human beings. (Which is refreshing when one expects the usual fan/actor relationship to be a very unequal one.) He answers his own fan mail. He’s incredibly benevolent, and a perfect gentleman when I met him in person.”

The thing about David that has struck me the most is his lack of pretence. Phrases like “I’ve learned the most from my mistakes,” are not what you would expect from your typical star. What’s truly amazing is that he seems truly unaware of the fact that he moves people. That beneath the bravado that runs deep through all his characters, there’s a part of him, a quality of gentle darkness that makes his fans pull close. Talking to David, you notice that he laughs a lot, and none of the jokes are mean spirited. He almost seems to find the tribute he receives (everything from poetry, to fan fiction, to song lyrics) to be inexplicable.  “David,” says Julie “is very down to earth.”

David Marciano fans. When he was on Due South, we never missed an episode. As people from my little village have said:

“Ray....which one? The first one!! He was soooooooooooooo funny. I would pay serious money to get him out here to film something. His sarcasm....he’d fit right in.”

“Ray...boy, he’s a looker.”

“Ray....David....he’s got that whole sexy menace thing going on.”

“David.....Didn’t he play that....whatsit....American cop guy? Why do no people like enforce the laws ‘round here? I’d speed all the time. 

My  local country store has just received their copy of The Last Don on video. It’s been rented for two weeks solid. This is driving me crazy because I have just finished watching The Last Don II and am dying to see part one. So, I am going up to the country store now to have a word with the owner. I’m going to put my foot down. I’m going to demand that he reserve a copy for me. I’m going to yell, I’m going to plead. I’m going to ask nicely to get a copy. And, if all else fails....

I’m going to bribe him with a plate of Julie’s ‘pasta Marciano.’

Questions from Fans (A.K.A. People of Taste)

1) What were your favourite episodes of Due South?
"OK...In chronological order.....1) “Pilot” 2) “The Deal” 3) “Victoria’s Secret” 4) “North” 5) “Juliet is Bleeding”."

2) Can you actually cook?
"Yes, I can. What have I just made that turned out really well......I make a good pasta with sausage, Asian stir-fry."

3) Who have you been the most excited to work with?
"Hmmmm....Whoopi Goldberg (in “Kiss Shot”) and Richard Donner. (Lethal Weapon 2)."

4) Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity?
"I have actually been mistaken for John Turturro by John Turturro’s sister."

5) What’s the worst odd job you’ve ever had?
"Selling newspaper subscriptions over the phone. A terrible job."

6) If you could have a super power what would it be?
"Super lungs. I would like to have super lungs to suck up all the pollution in the world. Does that make sense?"

7) Would you ever do a period piece?
"Yes...I’d love to do a period mafia piece."

8) What classic film role would you most like to have played?
"Hmmmmm....I’ve got it.... James Cagney’s role in Public Enemy #1.”

9) Who’s your favourite author?
"My man from New Hamsphire, John Irving."

10) What advice would you give to any young actors just starting out?
"You have to follow your heart. Persevere. Have patience. Have passion for what you’re doing. Shirley MacClaine once gave this advice ‘To any young actors out there; keep the four D’s in your work and you’ll be fine....Desire, Drive, Dedication, Devotion."

Also See:

David Marciano And A Sad Ending






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