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Bad Blood: Enrico Colantoni on Bruno Bonsignori and his love affair with Kim Coates

After decades playing other characters in feature films, the theatre and television, Enrico Colantoni is the closest to playing himself in City’s miniseries Bad Blood. To play Bruno Bonsignori, advisor to Vito Rizzuto (Anthony LaPaglia), Colantoni called on his Italian roots and a childhood that inspired his take on Bruno.

In our latest interview—done from the set of Bad Blood in Sudbury, Ont., last year—Colantoni outlines how he became part of the Bad Blood cast and how his past helped define the character.

How did you get involved in Bad Blood in the first place?
Enrico Colantoni: I’ve had an admiration for Kim Coates since Waterworld, and then seeing him on with George Stroumboulopoulos and realizing he was Canadian and from Saskatoon. And then, I won a Canadian Screen Award and he presented it to me. The hug I received … it was like two star-crossed lovers. I just love him and get him on so many levels and I think it’s mutual.

I was in Vancouver directing an episode of iZombie and I was having such a great time. I said, ‘If I can do this for the rest of my life I’ll never act again.’ Directing, even episodic for just two weeks, uses all my faculties. I got to act all the roles and have the final word on things. It was so exciting.

And then the phone rings and the script comes and I say, ‘Oh no, a mobster. I don’t want to do this.’ Then I read the first episode and, not only is the writing fantastic, but this character. I’ve never gotten to play an Italian mobster in my whole career. And this guy’s energy is so different from all of the other heavies. He’s sort of buffoonish, clownish. And I realize, ‘For the first time in my career, I can play me as an homage to the goofs I grew up with.’ And then when I realized this was with Kim, and Mr. LaPaglia and Mr. Sorvino … I gotta go. There hasn’t been a disappointing moment yet.

Bruno Bonsignori is a fictional character.
Kinda. He’s based on a real character, but the story I was told is that the reason they changed his name is because of the liberties that the script takes. He was based on a real guy and they share the same nickname, ‘Peacemaker.’

For Bruno, bloodshed is a last resort in this violent world.
Right. There’s gotta be that guy who is just the business-minded guy, who is good with the money. Who is good with talking. He is that guy.

I find it interesting that, when you dig down and really research some of these people, there are heroes. Not everyone is a villain.
Some of these guys just want to make a living. It’s so funny that the guys who I grew up with … their attitudes toward life walked such a fine line between legal and illegal. Objectively, I could see the difference, but they really couldn’t. If they got away with something, they were applauded for it and congratulated for it inside the family. My father would have beaten the shit out of me, but there were some Italians who thought that was appropriate behaviour and it was encouraged.

And Bad Blood is a Canadian story.
Isn’t that beautiful? I took such pride in that. We had our own version of the Cosa Nostra. I always thought that the famous names in Toronto were the Toronto version of something, never imagining that their ties to the bigger animal were so connected. And the guys in Montreal were even more so. When you hear the name Bonanno mentioned, you realize [the Canadians] were playing in the major leagues.

Bad Blood airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on City.

Look for more coverage of Bad Blood from our set visit late last year in the coming days, including exclusive interviews with director Alain Desrochers, and Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War authors Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards.

Image courtesy of Rogers Media.

 

 

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Bad Blood: Brett Donahue on Nico Jr.’s dangerous business plans

By the end of Episode 1 of Bad Blood (catch up by watching the debut online), Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto (Anthony LaPaglia) was indicted for murders that occurred early in his career. That left a hole at the top of his crime family. And, despite Vito’s wishes that Declan Gardiner (Kim Coates) take over in his absence, it was Vito’s son, Nico Jr. (Brett Donahue), who stepped into the void.

Nico Jr., not interested is merely sitting back, feels a Rizzuto should be boss, and that means him. But, as viewers will see in this week’s episode, Nico Jr.’s decision has repercussions. In our latest interview—done from the set of Bad Blood in Sudbury, Ont., last year—Winnipeg native Brett Donahue explains his character’s actions and what it could lead to.

Did you know anything about the Rizzuto family before becoming involved in Bad Blood?
Brett Donahue: Not to the extent of what the Rizzuto family meant. We think, living in Canada and growing up in Winnipeg, there is organized crime and gangs and all that. But the Mafia, the iconic mob, was always something in New York or Chicago. But, I was in Montreal, because I was studying in Montreal, and I remember hearing on the news that Nico Sr. had been assassinated in his home and hearing—even for a murder—that it was a faux pas because it had happened in the home, which is something that you don’t do unless you’re trying to send a really strong message out. I was interested in who these people were and I learned a little bit more.

But, when received all of this stuff I read more into Vito’s accomplishments. As nefarious as he might have been, he was a real businessman and really, really built up this empire, first with his father and then with him, into this syndicate in Montreal.


You had this option, you had this path, this possibility of something different, but you’re going to put yourself in danger.


Growing up in southern Ontario, I heard nothing about this at all.
Well, that’s the thing. When things are running well, you don’t hear anything about it. It’s an eye-opener.

Give me the lowdown on your character, Nico Jr. What did you discover in your research and in the scripts?
In the research, I found out a lot more about Vito than Nico Jr., but in our story—which is a lot of fun to play—is this man who is coming into his own and he really wants to be a part of the family business. Like any story in a family business and ownership being passed down the line, he wants his turn to continue the prosperity that his grandfather and now his father built and prove his worth. The actions that he takes in our story is one of that, of wanting to protect his family and hold onto the power and prove himself as a man.

But his dad didn’t want him to continue the business.
That’s the thing. His dad protected him. But this is the classic immigrant story; the first generation works really, really hard so that future generations don’t have to, or have a better opportunity. So, his dad, out of real protection and love, wanted to have Nico Jr. have his hands clean. In this world, you’re always looking over your shoulder and expecting something. You’re never in an even-keeled, tranquil state. He really didn’t want him involved, but when Vito is indicted, Nico sees that as his moment to step in and prove himself. And it’s not just out of an ego-driven place, but it’s one of the only people you can really trust is family. And, the only way the groups that work with us is if a Rizzuto is in power. If there is any doubt in them, everything crumbles.

There is no retirement plan for the mob and yet Nico Jr. wants to do this despite the bloody, violent history.
He’s not an idiot or ignorant to what his family has done. And, I guess growing up in that environment, he’s comfortable with that level of risk. But the beautiful thing that we’ll see in our story is that there will be a sympathetic sense to Vito because, despite everything that has happened, he’s trying to turn things legitimate. If he gets his business out, he might still be in danger for the crimes he’s committed, but his family won’t. They’re out of it. That’s why it’s so disheartening to see Nico Jr. go down that path. You had this option, you had this path, this possibility of something different, but you’re going to put yourself in danger, your wife in danger, your kids and anyone else down the line in danger.

Bad Blood airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on City.

Look for more coverage of Bad Blood from our set visit late last year in the coming days, including exclusive interviews with actor Enrico Colantoni and director Alain Desrochers, and Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War authors Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards.

Image courtesy of Rogers Media.

 

 

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Links: Bad Blood

From Tony Wong of the Toronto Star:

Link: Tales of Canada’s Teflon Don captivated producer behind TV series Bad Blood
It wasn’t a good omen.

The first day of filming on his Montreal Mafia series Bad Blood, executive producer Mark Montefiore turned up on set to see the crew reading newspaper reports on the assassination of underworld figure Vincenzo Spagnolo.

Spagnolo was reputedly the lieutenant of deceased crime boss Vito Rizzuto. And executive producer Montefiore just happened to be doing a TV series based on Rizzuto’s life. Continue reading.

From Bill Brioux of The Canadian Press:

Link: Actor Paul Sorvino won over by role of Nicolo Rizzuto, script for Montreal Mafia series
It was December, not exactly prime tourist time in the Ontario city some 400 kilometres north of Toronto. But Sorvino made a point of seeing the sights while he was there shooting City’s upcoming six-part series “Bad Blood,” a project he says won him over with its great script. Continue reading.

From Melissa Girimonte of The Televixen:

Link: The Cast of Bad Blood Talks About this Unique Crime Tale
Six-part event series Bad Blood kicks off tonight on City, and it is really unlike any other mafia story we’ve seen. Inspired by the story of Montreal’s famous mobster Vito Rizzuto, it filmed in both Montreal and Sudbury, ON last winter. Produced by New Metric Media and Sphere Media Plus, it is loosely based on the book Business Or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards. Continue reading.

From Bill Brownstein of the Montreal Gazette:

Link: Plenty of Bad Blood will be spilled in Rizzuto TV series
Montreal is the backdrop for our very own take on The Sopranos, with a tinge of The Godfather and Goodfellas tossed in for good measure. But whether the focus be on good or bad guys, Montrealers — who often possess a twisted notion of civic pride — tend to get a kick out of seeing famed native sons and daughters on screen. And that’s precisely what we have here. Continue reading.

 

 

 

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Link: Montreal mafia series Bad Blood is bloody good

From John Doyle of The Globe and Mail:

Link: Montreal mafia series Bad Blood is bloody good
Based on the book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards, it is a very superior docu-drama: gripping, richly textured and unfussily focused not just on the violent dynamics of a successful mob operation but on what happens when a strong leader is absent and the centre of power disintegrates. It is also, in a peculiar way, about Canada and our way of doing things. Continue reading.

 

 

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Link: Bad Blood, good experience: 8 things I learned watching my book become a TV series

From Peter Edwards of the Toronto Star:

Link: Bad Blood, good experience: 8 things I learned watching my book become a TV series
It has been almost four years since New Metric Media (Letterkenny) bought the option to Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War, a non-fiction book I co-authored with Antonio Nicaso.

At the time it was sort of exciting, like buying a batch of lottery tickets. Since then New Metric has kept plugging away and, starting this Thursday, a six-part limited series inspired by the book will air Thursdays on City TV.

Here are eight things I’ve learned from this journey. Continue reading. 

 

 

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