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Transcript: Our chat with Denis Leary

April 14, 2006 |  7:09 pm


When Denis Leary chatted with The Envelope's forum posters last Wednesday, he blabbed a secret about the upcoming season of "Rescue Me," which begins in May — his character will have an affair with Marisa Tomei. (Well, at least the gal she plays on TV.) How much flack has Denis received from survivors of Sept. 11 over "Rescue's" portrayal of the tragedy's psychological aftershocks? "Some of the older members of the Fire Department of New York found 'Rescue' difficult to watch during the first season," he admitted. Denis also revealed what episodes of "Rescue" have been submitted for Emmy Award consideration. Read on!

Denis Leary: Hey!
Tom O'Neil: Hey, Denis -- thanks for joining us! What surprises do you have ahead for the new season of 'Rescue'?
Denis Leary: There is a shocker at the end of the first episode. There's also a shocker at the end of the third and fourth episodes, but I am not at liberty to spill the beans.
Tom O'Neil: Anybody get offed?
tmaya56: please dont!
Denis Leary: No one gets offed, but a few characters may wish that they were getting offed.
KathyP: I love Tommy, in real life, He and I would be friends
Tom O'Neil: Tell us how you juggle the two roles of writer and actor.
Denis Leary: I spend most of my free time writing/discussing ideas and scenes with Peter Tolan and then frantically memorize my lines for the next day's scenes and then go to bed.
Tom O'Neil: You write that close to deadline? Yikes.
Denis Leary: Yeah, we write and rewrite even the morning of shooting scenes
tubetalkgirl: Denis, can we expect to see a softer side of Tommy this season?
Denis Leary: Yes, there will be some softer sides of Tommy revealed this season.
tmaya56: that's part of what makes the show so great
Tom O'Neil: How would you say Tommy is different now from where he was in the first episode? Or is he really the same?
Denis Leary: He's not drinking, he's about to learn how to handle his kids in an unselfish way for the first time. Susan Sarandon's character teaches Tommy and Franco a life lesson that they had never thought of before and that helps them to approach their kids with fresh angles.
GMMR: When is Rescue Me coming back? I've heard May 30th?
Denis Leary: May 30th and the second season DVD comes out May 9th. The soundtrack comes out the third week in May.
tubetalkgirl: Will Susan be a romantic interest for Tommy?
tmaya56: cant wait
Denis Leary: No, Susan will be a romantic interest for Franco. She plays a very sexy, wealthy older woman who really turns Franco's head.
tubetalkgirl: It doesn't take much to turn Franco's head, if I recall. :)
tmaya56: well, she is a very sexy, wealthy older women. i love her politics..
Denis Leary: No, but this is the first time that an older woman, as opposed to a young model, has done that.
bookie: who is Tommy's romantic interest then?
Denis Leary: I should probably also mention that Marisa Tomei is on the show this year playing my brother Johnny's ex-wife.
KathyP: Ever get to the Atlanta area? I'm originally from upstate NY across the river from Poughkeepsie. My Dad grew up in Rockville Center, LI
tubetalkgirl: Yay! Marisa and Susan. Sounds great. Is it May 30 yet?
Denis Leary: Tommy's romantic interests this year include Marisa.
KathyP: His brother's ex!
tmaya56: like life
tvgirl13: Scandalous! :)
tubetalkgirl: What is it with Tommy and his relatives' wives? Hmm...
KathyP: Watch out Tommy!
(Click on "Continue Reading" link below)

Photo: Referring to his cowriter Peter Tolan, Denis told The Envelope, "Peter and I submitted the last two episodes from last year" to Emmy voters to be considered for the writing award.
(FX Network)

Tom O'Neil: You've channeled a lot of Denis into Tommy. How much are you guys really the same guy?
Denis Leary: Very, very litte actually. Tommy is a combination of two of my best friends who are firefighters here in New York. One knows that I am playing part of him and the other guy loves the show but has absolutely no idea.Tom O'Neil: If you get Emmy nominated again for writing, what episode would you like that to be for?
Denis Leary: Peter and I submitted the last two episodes from last year.
SweetP: Denis - my father is a Fire Chief and we watch the show together. I just wanted to say that you've captured the spirit and comraderie of the department wonderfully. I wish you and the show all the best at the Emmys.
Denis Leary: Thank you, SweetP.
KathyP: You REALLY deserve the emmy
tmaya56: keeping my fingers crossed for you at the emmys, denis!
Denis Leary: KathyP, I hope you're a voter.
Denis Leary: I would love to see other members of the cast get nominated as well.
KathyP: tell me how, honey, and I'll stuff the ballot box!
BC: Do you know what you're going to submit yet, Denis?
Tom O'Neil: If you get nominated for acting, what episode would you submit to judges? Episode 12? Episode 13?
Denis Leary: We did submit both of those episodes for writing and acting as well.
Tom O'Neil: You'll only get ONE episode if you make the cut for acting, though. You'll have to choose between them. Do you think one is a stronger acting showcase than the other?
Denis Leary: That's very hard to say. I really think that's up to Peter and my producing partner Jim Serpico.
tubetalkgirl: Denis, the finale last year was soooo good. Did you write it?
Denis Leary: I have a new song coming out in the fall called "F**k You"
Scooter McGavin: Denis is "F**k You" going to be part of a new comedy album?
KathyP: By the way I love "Traditional Irish Folk Song" I'm Irish too
Denis Leary: "Traditional Irish Folk Song" is one of my favorites. We played it in front of 10,000 people at a gig I did in Dublin last fall.
tmaya56: lucky dubliners
KathyP: It's so TRUE!!!!! We are a weird lot!
Denis Leary: "F**k You" will be part of a new comedy album.
SweetP: Excellent!!
SMITTY: do you find the humor translates when you go to other countries?
Denis Leary: Absolutely.
tmaya56: i'm looking forward to asking for F**k You at the stores
Denis Leary: Me, too.
SweetP: Denis - what reaction do you get from firemen/woman regarding the show? Has anyone expressed negative views on your portrayal of the department?
GiveMe_MyRemote: Important question: Foulke or Papelbon as the closer this year? ha ha
Denis Leary: Some of the older members of the FDNY found 'Rescue' difficult to watch during the first season but a good friend of mine, TImmy HIggins, who was a member of the FDNY and died on 9/11, his brother Bobby and his brother Joey and his father are all firefighters. His father has put in 40 some odd years fighting fires in New York City and he loves the show. So, he's my touchstone.
tmaya56: kudos to you and to all of them, denis
Tom O'Neil: What do you think of people criticizing the upcoming release of "United 93" -- that flick about 9/11?
BC: Great question, Tom!
Denis Leary: I think it's a knee-jerk reaction. You can't judge the book by its cover. Bruce Springsteen released a fantastic song called "The Rising" shortly after 9/11 and that song had a healing effect so it's like "Rescue Me". It depends on what the piece has to say.
SMITTY: will you see the film?
Denis Leary: Yes, I will see the film. I am looking forward to it.
KathyP: oops. I was glued to the tv during Rescue Me. My aunt's dad lived to be 101 and was a retired `cheif in the Peekskill NY fire dept. and grand marshall at every parade
SweetP: Half my family are firefighters too Denis. It really is a family thing and really a more difficult job than people know.
tubetalkgirl: "The Rising" is a great song!
tmaya56: when will it air?
GiveMe_MyRemote: I missed half the chat...i got booted. Hoping TVGirl or Scooter can fill me in later :(
KathyP: We loved "Ice Age 2" Great job!
Denis Leary: It's a story about bravery and since I didn't know anyone on that particular flight, it won't have a personal tragic effect for me. Oliver Stone's film contains shots of the planes ramming into the towers and I had a friend on the second plane, so it's always difficult to watch that footage.
Tom O'Neil: "Rescue Me" has a kind of cult hit status. Some of its fans are MOONIES. Do you think that's cool -- or creepy?
Denis Leary: Moonies--define Moonies. As in the religion?
Tom O'Neil: They're extreme fans. FANatic fans
Denis Leary: Oh, no, no, no, I am all for fanatic fans.
tmaya56: lol!
Denis Leary: We love doing the show, we love telling the stories, and if people are fanatic about it, that's a plus.
SweetP: Do you get panties in the mail? ;-)
Scooter McGavin: Denis, are we ever going to see a second season of the funniest two hours ever on TV - Contest Searchlight?
lizzybme: denis i am not a fanatic fan but a fan nonetheless
Denis Leary: No, Contest Searchlight was a one off.
lizzybme: can i interrupt and tell Denis we really like The Ref anyone seen it
Denis Leary: Thank you, I love The Ref, too.
bookie: what about other women joining the firehouse?
Denis Leary: I am sure I will at some point.
tmaya56: denis; i love your stand-ups, your films and your television shows. dont ever quit!
tubetalkgirl: What has been your favorite character to play so far in your career?
Denis Leary: We don't know yet. The probie becomes a full-time firefighter this year, and part of this season's story arc is whether or not he decides to stay with the crew or transfer to another house. If he transfers, there is always the possibility that he will be replaced by a female firefighter.
SweetP: Denis - what are your current plans with your firefighter charity?
Denis Leary: Tommy Gavin, no doubt. Although Diego has been very, very good to me.
KathyP: Denis, I had two dreams where we met- the first I was so nervous I was shaking. The second, not so
Scooter McGavin: Will there be a new probie?
Denis Leary: We are building a high-rise simulator here in New York city for the FDNY. This will enable firefighters to work in conditions that simulate fires and terrorist attacks in skyscrapers. We break ground next month.
SweetP: Fantastic!
bookie: I asked before, but I don't think you sheela still goign to be a lesbian?
KathyP: Denis, how can I help from in Atlanta? I will send a donation as soon as I can. Anything else I can do?
tmaya56: just the simulation must take a lot of courage
tubetalkgirl: I enjoyed Diego, too, but Tommy rules.
Denis Leary: we are also trying to help the New Orleans fire department which was devastated by Katrina and you can make donations to help them through my foundation and the branch named the Jeremiah Lucey fund.
Patty B.: Hey, Denis, not to go all James Lipton on you, but Rescue Me is incredible television. What phenomenal writing, acting--everything. The show manages to use 9/11 as a dramatic touchstone without being exploitative. Kudos to you all.
tubetalkgirl: Where can my readers send their donations for the simulator?
Tom O'Neil: Do you have a URL address to give us for more info on the foundation?
Denis Leary:
GiveMe_MyRemote: great!
tmaya56: i've written it down
lat7: What's in store for Lou, Sean and the chief this season?
KathyP: I'm so sorry about your cousin. I have firefighters and cops in my family and friends
SweetP: If you need the Toronto Fire Department on board, let me know!
Denis Leary: Lou is contemplating his retirement. The chief has a financial burden because they've raised the charges at the home where his wife is being taken care of. Sean falls in love with the wrong woman.
CwrdlyLyn: Aside from writing for RESCUE ME, do you have any additional projects you are working on in terms of writing?
Denis Leary: Yes, a couple of television pilots and a couple of film scripts.
Denis Leary: Plus my book, "Kiss my Irish Ass," which is due out in 2007.
KathyP: comedy or drama?
MicheBel: LOL. sounds great
Denis Leary: Both.
KathyP: I'll get the book
Denis Leary: You better
SweetP: It's amazing you have time for us!
Denis Leary: Anything for Tom.
MicheBel: Tom rules.
KathyP: Your glossary in Irish in America was hilarious!
tmaya56: do you run up against a lot of censorship? particularly in this political climate?
GiveMe_MyRemote: I think Rescue Me really pushes the you ever feel stifled by the network censors?
GiveMe_MyRemote: ha ha..nice question Tmaya
Denis Leary: No, FX is absolutely the best group of people I have ever worked with. All they do is ask us to push the envelope even further.
Tom O'Neil: Are you still smoking cigarettes? I can't remember if you finally quit
Denis Leary: I go back and forth.
Tom O'Neil: Me, too.
tmaya56: that's great!
KathyP: I hope you quit, I want you around for a LONG time!
Denis Leary: Me too.
KathyP: SO.....?
Tom O'Neil: Those damn cigs. I'm off now. Hurrah
tubetalkgirl: Has Franco kicked the pill habit?
CwrdlyLyn: How does the experience w. F/X compare to when you worked for ABC with THE JOB?
Denis Leary: Yes, Franco has kicked the pill habit and all the guys quit smoking in the first episode of the show.
MicheBel: good for you, Tom. it's a tough one.
Denis Leary: FX is so far and beyond ABC not just in terms of ideas but in terms of marketing that there is no comparison.
SweetP: You know that when there's smoke, there's fire. Why is that all firefighters smoke too?
Denis Leary: Are you going to tell firefighters, guys who run into burning building when you are running out, not to smoke?
tubetalkgirl: They all quit smoking at the same time? Wow, tempers will be flaring. Can't wait.
tmaya56: great to hear. i really abhor most forms of censorship
GiveMe_MyRemote: You and Lenny C have any upcoming projects? I saw him at the Celts game a few weeks back...he's a skinny bastard again!
Tom O'Neil: Why does "Rescue"'s new season start when it does? May is not the traditional roll-out time
SweetP: True Denis. But you think my Dad would learn after two collapsed lungs!
Denis Leary: Lenny's character is prison this year and I told him nobody gets fat in prison. So he lost 110 lbs before we started shooting the third season and I have a project that I am developing for him that is very secret and under wraps.
GiveMe_MyRemote: you guys together. You are hysterical...esp in the booth with Jerry and Don during the games
tmaya56: i hope not
Denis Leary: We like playing our stories out over the course of the summer. There is less competition and it allows us to shoot the show from February into August, which gives us three seasons of weather.
Scooter McGavin: I remember last year you were hocking Ryan Adams latest album at the time (which was great at the time, he may have released five more since then), what are you creently listening to?
tubetalkgirl: Are there any fun extras on the upcoming DVD i.e. bloopers, cast commentaries?
Denis Leary: I am currently listening to Arctic Monkeys and Greg Dulli's brilliant new album called Powderburns.
Denis Leary: Best rock and roll album that I have heard in the last ten years.
Scooter McGavin: Arctic monkeys are great
CwrdlyLyn: Do you have any projects from the past that you really wish had been given the chance to go further... for example, SHORTIES WATCHIN' SHORTIES was hysterical... what was Comedy Central's issue with that one?
Denis Leary: Yes, there are all kinds of deleted scenes and behind the scenes extras.
Denis Leary: Comedy Central dropped the ball on that one. I thought it was extremely funny, obviously.
bookie: what's coming up for the ladies on the show?
lat7: Did you and Peter do any commentaries on Season 2 DVD?
KathyP: I also am hooked on "Voices in my head" so melodic and funny
Denis Leary: Lots and lots of comic and dramatic activity. I think people forget that even though the show is about big, tough guys it's really about the women who run their lives.
Tom O'Neil: ah, well said
tmaya56: women can do that
MicheBel: ;-)
CwrdlyLyn: was there ever another station you were approaching w. RESCUE ME or was F/X always the ideal?
Denis Leary: we had offers from several different networks, but FX made the best presentation.
Tom O'Neil: Do you feel like you're censored creatively being on FX? HBO shows can get away with so much more. Does that matter to you?
Denis Leary: No, the only thing I feel we can't do or say is the word F**k and full frontal nudity, neither one of which feels like it would add anything to the show.
Tom O'Neil: I fear the day James Gandolfini does a nude scene on Sopranos. I'll cancel my HBO subscription
MicheBel: Gandolfini is hot.
CwrdlyLyn: Are there any roles you turned down in the past that you really regret?
Denis Leary: I never regret roles that I turn down because number one, life is too short, and I usually turn them down because the script sucks or I don't like the director or I don't feel I am correct for the role and then when I see the finished product, I am almost right. The movie either sucks or the guy playing my role is better than I would have been.
SweetP: I'd rather see you, Denis!
GiveMe_MyRemote: How do you prepare yourself for the heavy, emotional scenes?
tubetalkgirl: Tom, it can't be worse than Terry Bradshaw in "Failure to Launch."
MicheBel: Kathy, we don't wanna sound like we're sucking up here... ;-)
Denis Leary: I think the Sopranos is hands down the greatest television show on tv and after the first two episodes of this season, I think Gandolfini, Edie Falco, David Chase and the show itself will capture each and every available award.
tmaya56: agreed!
Scooter McGavin: Anything else on TV you like?
BC: I think so too.
tubetalkgirl: Denis, will Jesus be making any appearances this season on Rescue Me?
SweetP: I just hope Emmys share some love with you too!
Denis Leary: Family Guy, 24, Deadwood, Huff, and I think it is a crime that Homer Simpson has never been nominated for best actor.
MicheBel: isn't Homer really a girl?
GiveMe_MyRemote: i'd like to hear homer's acceptance speech
tmaya56: oh puleeez!
Tom O'Neil: Happily, Homer's too drunk and stupid to realize the insult from the Emmys.
KathyP: Gonna see "The Simpson's " Movie, Denis?
Tom O'Neil: So ... yeah, ask Denis: would you ever do a full nude scene if you felt it was important to telling the story?
MicheBel: good question, Tom!
Denis Leary: I've always avoided full nudity only because I have two teenagers. Maybe when they're a little older, but at that point no one is going to want to see my sorry ass on the big screen or the small screen.
Denis Leary: Seeing the Simpsons movie 15 times.
Boomer: I've heard you are in the Motion Picture Academy. What were some of your voting choices for this past Oscar ceremony?
Denis Leary: Capote, Matt Dillon, Katherine Keener, King Kong.
Tom O'Neil: king Kong waz robbed
KathyP: someone on the Simpson's is a pyro- likes to set things and people on fire
CwrdlyLyn: thank God... someone realized KING KONG was among the best
Tom O'Neil: Kong shoulda been up for best pic
CwrdlyLyn: i agree completely Tom
BC: along with Walk the Line
Boomer: How are the FX officials to work with when it comes to Emmy campaigning? What kinds of advice did they give you last year?
CwrdlyLyn: was acting always a main aspiration Denis... or did it just grow on you as a result of your success in stand-up?
MicheBel: They gonna send everyone Rescue Me screeners?
tmaya56: hubris of man, such a great film, king's hard out there for a chimp...
booki: thats funny
SweetP: Denis - do you find that Rescue Me has brought you "sex symbol" status?
Denis Leary: I think when People reaches the point when they have to have me in their sexiest man episode we are almost in the bottom of the barrel. Could be a sign of armageddon.
MicheBel: Sweet, Denis was a sex symbol BEFORE Rescue Me...
Denis Leary: I started out as an actor. I studied acting and I got into comedy just to get some stage time and to meet girls.
tubetalkgirl: tmaya56, LOL at "It's hard out there for a chimp!"
Tom O'Neil: Are you doing your own typing right now? If so, youre a helluva typist! But maybe that's not surprising since you're a writer, eh?
Denis Leary: No, I am not doing my own typing. If I was doing my own typing, we'd still be on the first question.
bookie: is sheela still a lesbian?????
Denis Leary: No, sheela is not a lesbian, but down deep she still could be, but right now she's not.
CwrdlyLyn: any advice for young people who aspire to work in film... but are unsure on what they ultimately wanna do?
tmaya56: you mean, you can switch, like anne heche?
lat>: Will we ever hear Steven Pasquale sing on the show?
Denis Leary: Steve Pasquale, I would love to find a way to get him to sing on the show. He sang last year during the birthday party for Jerry's gay son.
Boomer: What do you think about the current trend of full-season DVDs? You've had "The Job" and "Rescue Me" in that format. Which TV shows on DVD do you own?
tubetalkgirl: Denis, trying this question again: Will Jesus make any appearances this season, like last season?
Denis Leary: Colombo, 24, Lost, Dick Van Dyke show, Black Adder, the British Office, Fawlty Towers, The Simpsons, The Family Guy, too many to name.l
tmaya56: what do you think of southpark?
Boomer: Columbo is so under-rated. Maybe get Peter Falk on your show?
Denis Leary: It's possible that Jesus may make an appearance before the season is over. He represents Tommy's doubts about his own faith and belief in God which will be sorely tested before the season is over.
: Bye Denis, thanks so much for your time!! You're the best!!
: Denis...the bloggers in here will be sure to pimp the show a lot before the premiere. thanks for your time
KathyP: Denis, I was a greater lapsed Catholic than you
Denis Leary: I did a movie with Peter Falk called Lake Boat, written by David Mamet and directed Joe Montagna
Denis Leary: which I never saw. Just working with Peter fulfilled one of my life-long dreams.
tmaya56: david mamet! wow
Denis Leary: Thanks for your time too guys. Remember May 30th, FX, 10:00 pm and don't forget to drag your kids out to see Ice Age 2.
Denis Leary: See ya
MicheBel: thanks
Tom O'Neil: Great! Thanks for joining us, Denis