Chatting with Mob City’s Jeffrey DeMunn and Jeremy Luke

Mob City

Mob City is about the epic battle between a determined police chief and a dangerous mobster in 1940s Los Angeles. From executive producer Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), who wrote and directed the opening installment, this powerful drama has an exceptionally recognisable ensemble cast.

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Jeffrey DeMunn has enjoyed a career that encompasses theatre, film and television. He is known as a favourite of writer/producer/director Frank Darabont who has cast him in the AMC hit television series The Walking Dead, the films The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Majestic and The Mist, as well as the 1988 re-make of The Blob, written by Darabont.

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Whilst Jeremy Luke, is slated to become one of the breakout stars of 2013. His charismatic yet earnest performances, are earning attention and recognition from press and fellow professionals. You might best know him from for his performance alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Tony Danza in the highly buzzed about dramedy: Don Jon, directed by Joshua Gordon Levitt and released in September 2013.

In addition to his role on Mob City, Luke’s television credits also include guest-starring roles on popular shows like Hawaii Five-0, Desperate Housewives, Bones and Melissa & Joey.

What research did you do for your character?

Jeffrey DeMunn: I just read books on the era. Books written by cops. As you can imagine some of the books are not the most accomplished writing, but the stories if you can follow them, when you can follow them are intriguing and confusing. And the alliances and the shifting alliances and the doubts about that guy and the trust in that guy…. So I read books by cops. I read of course, LA Noir and they were the things I did.

You play Mickey Cohen. There is so much information out there about him, can you tell us how you brought him back to life?

Jeremy Luke: I read a couple of books when I started researching and then I watched documentaries on that era, about Mickey, Bugsy and with all that information, I took it into the script and worked off my scene partners. You’re not going to see this really evil, bad guy unless necessarily pushed. Mickey really enjoyed being around people, he was a people person. When people came to his club, he would shake everybody’s hand. He enjoyed being a celebrity as well as a gangster.

The thing that I really enjoyed about Mickey was that he strived to be a better person. He strived to read, to write, to go to etiquette classes and to do all of these things that would make you a better person. You don’t really see that in gangsters because most gangsters like being knuckleheads. Mickey was different in that way.

Jeffrey DeMunn: What would he learn in etiquette class?

Jeremy Luke: How to eat correctly and not to hold the spoon like this. I still don’t know how to eat right!

Jeffrey DeMunn: It’s helping you in your personal life!

Jeremy Luke: Yeah, exactly! (Laughs)

What was the fascination with the mobster world? Why are we so drawn to the gangster lifestyle?

Jeremy Luke: I thing gangsters are rebels. They do some of the things we all wish we could do. We all wish we could blow someone’s head off if you hate that person! And these are the people that do those kinds of things. As far as what makes that era cool, for me, it was about not having a cell phone. Back then, you’d see a couple of guys sitting at a bar, they don’t have a cell phone to hide behind. They would sit there with their cigarettes and their thoughts and strike up a conversation. We don’t talk to one another anymore!

Jeremy Luke: No-one does it anymore! There’s no real connection anymore, but back then in those simple times, they didn’t even have a beeper back then. When you were in precinct, they had to grab files on you. There were no computers.

Frank Darabont likes to work with people he’s worked with before. Jon Bernthal and you (Jeffrey DeMunn) were from The Walking Dead. How is it working with Frank again on a movie?

Jeffrey DeMunn: Spectacular. I’m working with a lot of old friends. I walk down the hall and I know I’m going to turn a corner and go: “Oh, hey!” It’s filled with this family he brings together, this terribly talented family to create his projects so it’s wonderful. Boy, for me it doesn’t get much better than that! There’s a sense of support. There’s a sense of easy communication because you’ve been talking for a long time.

As a result of the passion we all feel for Frank, everybody goes a hundred and ten per cent. I’ve never seen slackers on his set. They go the extra mile for him. And it has that excitement to it because of him.

Jeremy, this is such a great role, how did you come on board?

Jeremy Luke: Six months ago to the day, I auditioned for it. I got a call that evening after I had got out of work. I had a couple of beers to let it go, you know, there goes another one. I got a call from my manager and she’s like: “Frank Darabont saw your tape and he’s flipping out!! We’re emailing you five pages in about an hour and a half, you have to go in for an audition tomorrow.”

This was about ten thirty in the evening. So it’s twelve o’clock at night, and I’m looking at these pages, I’m like half drunk. I’m like: “Get me the latest appointment you can possibly get me to go in the door.” The next day I go in and I bought a suit from Hollywood Suit for a hundred bucks. So I’m wearing this old fashioned suit, and my buddy gave me the hat his uncle wore who was born in the same year as Mickey. I just went in and taped my audition.

They put me on hold and they told me to stand by, so I dealt with that for ten days. Then I got the call and I was flipping out. Then I thought I was going to get fired! I totally thought I was going to get fired on my first day on the set. Frank pulls me over to the side and he goes: “Now I know I got the right fuckin’ guy!” It was at that moment that all those weights on my shoulders were lifted. I’m like, I’m done.

Mob City’s UK Premiere is on Friday 17th January at 10PM