Tag Archives: Anthony LaPaglia

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.




Bad Blood: Kim Coates headlines City’s Mafia mini based on the life of Vito Rizzuto

It’s a story from the pages of Canadian history. Bad Blood, the six-part miniseries debuting Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on City, reaches into the history of mob-influenced Montreal to tell the real-life story of Vito Rizzuto, who had everyone from city hall to motorcycle gangs under his command during the 1990s.

The project, from New Metric Media (Letterkenny) and Sphère Média Plus (19-2), is toplined by an incredible cast led by Kim Coates, Enrico Colantoni, Maxim Roy, Tony Nappo, Michelle Mylett, Paul Sorvino and Anthony LaPaglia. Adapted from Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards by Simon Barry (Continuum) and Michael Konyves, Bad Blood is a deep dive into Montreal’s seedy underbelly, a blood-splattered thrill ride in Canadian history. Back in 2013, before New Metric Media was formed, producer Mark Montefiore was going through his morning routine of reading news outlets and noticed an uptick in mob hits in Montreal. One person kept popping up in the stories he was reading: “mob expert” Antonio Nicaso. After six months of coffee with Nicaso and discussing general Mafia-themed ideas, Vito Rizzuto’s name came up. Nicaso, Montefiore learned, was writing a book about Rizzuto with Peter Edwards, the organized crime reporter for the Toronto Star.

“I said, ‘I want this story.'” Montefiore remembers during a break filming Bad Blood in snowy Sudbury, Ont. “We closed the deal on the manuscript on the Friday of December 2013 when we had the ice storm. On Monday, December 23, Vito was dead.” Rizzuto died from complications from lung cancer at the age of 67, but he’d left a trail of bodies in his wake that had suffered more violent fates. Montefiore and his New Metric Media partner, Patrick O’Sullivan, always pictured Bad Blood as a miniseries that picked up with Rizzuto (played by Anthony LaPaglia) getting out of prison until his death and following how a man who built an empire based on bringing people together and working together built an empire.

Thursday’s first episode sprints out of the gate, with Rizzuto’s right-hand man—the fictional Declan Gardiner (Kim Coates)—setting the scene and describing how Rizzuto united the Irish gangs that ran Montreal’s ports, the Italians who controlled business, politics and government, the bikers who ran distribution and the Haitians who handled street-level distribution of drugs to construct an empire. Viewers learn that even the police are in Rizzuto’s employ (Sphère Média planted a sweet 19-2 Easter egg in the first script.) and that anyone who attempts to take down Rizzuto will experience a major hurt thanks to Declan and loyal bodyguard Gio, a fictional character played by Tony Nappo.

“I was cast early on and then I read the scripts as they came in,” Nappo says. “I got to the end of each script and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to come next.” Gio and Declan are around Rizzuto all the time, Nappo explains, describing his character as a ninja who observes and protects, a soldier who is never going to refuse orders.

For Coates, Bad Blood came at the perfect time in his career.

“I took some time off [after Sons of Anarchy] and was offered some TV roles and I turned them all down,” Coates, who also serves as a co-producer on Bad Blood, says. “I wanted to focus on films. This was handed to me—they sent me the first three scripts—and every 20 minutes I would come out and say to my wife, ‘This is unbelievable.'” He got on the phone with the producers, committed to the project, and passed on Godless, Netflix’s western TV series from Steven Soderbergh. Scheduling eventually allowed for him to do both, but Coates was willing to drop Godless entirely in favour of Bad Blood.

“I know what everyone is wanting to do with this project,” Coates says. “I’m not afraid to tell everyone what a great job they’re doing. I’m so proud to be involved with this. It doesn’t have to perfect, but it does have to be honest.”

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 actors Enrico Colantoni and Brett Donahue, and authors Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.