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.