Category: Archive

Brotherly love

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Sure, Winters concedes, it’s nice to have more time on-screen to play Johnny, Tommy Gavin’s younger cop brother. However, this larger, more intense storyline pits his character against his hot-headed sibling (Denis Leary) and that could be hazardous to anyone’s health.
“It seems my theme this season is suffering,” Winters joked in a recent phone interview with the Irish Echo.
The dashing 41-year-old, who traces his family roots to Ireland and Italy, is referring to the feud born earlier this season when Tommy discovers Johnny is sleeping with his estranged wife, Janet (Andrea Roth,) then beats Johnny up at a family birthday party.
“It’s the longest scene I ever had to shoot. It was never-ending,” Winters said, revealing he did most of the stunts himself in that fight scene. “A few bruises came out of that one.”
In an Irish-American family consisting of brother Tommy, an acid-tongued, recovering alcoholic with rage issues; sister Maggie (Tatum O’Neil,) a mean-spirited, booze-guzzling shrew; a well-meaning, but old-fashioned and stubborn dad (Charles Durning,) and an uncle (Lenny Clarke) imprisoned after shooting the drunk driver who killed Tommy’s young son, it is easy to see why some might consider Johnny the good one. But Winters says he doesn’t think any of the characters on “Rescue Me” are so easily defined; not even his own.
“Who’s good? Who’s bad?” Winters mused. “It’s a difficult question to answer. I think, up until this point, Johnny has definitely been the more responsible brother, especially given what we saw in the last two seasons where he really goes that extra mile to bail Denis out of every situation he gets himself into.”
Having Johnny and Tommy lock horns over a woman both of them have loved for years gives Winters the chance to explore another side of NYPD Detective Johnny Gavin.
“It’s definitely taking a little bit of a darker twist,” Winters said. “As an actor, I tend to enjoy going to the dark side. I guess that’s due to my six-year stint (as Ryan O’Reilly on the HBO prison drama) ‘Oz.’ But I am enjoying the arc this season and Denis has found a rhythm which is captivating.”
Although the importance of his character has grown since the show’s first season, Winters notes relatively little time is spent looking at what makes Johnny tick, meaning it is up to the actor to figure out his character’s back story on his own.
“Nobody really knows what’s going on in his head,” he observes. “It’s always been about Johnny’s window into Tommy, so it’s difficult to tell where Johnny’s coming from. It makes it kind of fun because I get to make it up in my head.”
At the time of the interview, Winters had not yet worked with Marisa Tomei, the Oscar-winning actress who recently joined the cast as Johnny’s ex-wife, Angie, and Tommy’s cohort in a plot to torture Johnny and Janet.
“I’m dying to get in there and mix it up with her,” Winters confided. “I don’t really know what Denis has planned for her and I, but she’s amazing.”
Not knowing where his character and story line are going is par for the course, the actor added.
“On ‘Oz,’ with Tom Fontana, it was all about collaboration,” Winters explained. “On this show, it’s more about Denis (the show’s co-creator, co-producer and head writer) going off and just writing, which is fine. It’s obviously working, but as far as knowing what’s going to happen for me from one script to the next, you really have no idea. It’s nice to kind of experience it for the first time when you are reading (the script.)”

“Rescue Me” airs Tuesday nights on FX.

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