2010 April 23
Nice Guy Eddie
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Neighborhood booster (and supermodel spouse) Ed Burns returns to Tribeca for the fifth time with Nice Guy Johnny. He still loves the city, but misses John Gotti. BY IAN MOHR
People think of you as a pretty stand-up guy, but in your new film you play a womanizer giving life advice to his young nephew. Was it fun playing a cad?
ED BURNS: My character is this charming sh**heel. But he’s not exactly harmless. Maybe it’s a type that’s specific to New York, but he’s a guy in his 30s who womanizes without apology.I actually know one or two guys in their 40s who are still playing that game. So we’re trying to make fun of this guy, but at the same time he’s a mentor. Some of the advice he’s giving is good, but he’s the absolute wrong guy to be giving it. So I didn’t want to redeem him in any way. Characters like him are always fun to play.
Is he based on anyone?
I can’t say who he is, but I have one friend who he’s a version of. When he sees it, he’ll love it. He settled down, but he had to be pushed down the aisle.
Where did the initial idea for the film come from?
Johnny’s journey and character were born out of 15 years in the business and having it be harder and harder to get specialized films made. Then you throw in the financial crisis and it became all but impossible. My agent sat me down maybe two years ago and said, “Why not just put yourself up for some open directing assignments? We can absolutely get you a studio romantic comedy. They pay a lot of money. The film will be released in thousands of theaters instead of the six to 15 that you usually get.” But I said, “Guys, I’ve been fighting to do this specific thing for my entire adult life. This is not a job to me; this is who I am and what I do,” which was probably a fiscally irresponsible decision on my part. Afterward, I sat down with my producing partner and said, “Why don’t we write a script about someone who’s being asked to make that kind of decision?”—someone who’s being asked to give up their dream in order to do something that’s more responsible.
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