Show star John Ortiz organised the get together two days after the series creators, David Milch and Michael Mann, and HBO TV executives decided to cease production following the death of a horse on Tuesday morning (13Mar12)
The tragedy marked the third time a horse has been put down at the racetrack, where the series is filmed, during shooting.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that more than 60 cast members came together to say farewell over breakfast on Friday morning.
The show's big names - Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina - did not attend the final cast meeting.
Hoffman, who is also a producer of the show, Milch and Mann reportedly organised a 'wake' for the show on Friday evening in Hollywood.
S1E2: Based on the first episode of HBO’s new drama Luck, I think it is no grand leap to assume that the show’s meager ratings will not be seeing a huge spike anytime soon. The subject matter, and the way it is delivered to audiences, is alienating to those not already well versed in the world of horserace gambling. As our TV editor, Kelsea Stahler, pointed out in her review of the pilot, Luck places a heavy focus on the emotionality inherent in horseracing—to the trainers, the jockeys, the gamblers, everybody. But interspersed are jargon-heavy conversations that act to further the plot and set us in a vividly realistic depiction of the scenery. To those of us who are complete strangers to the racetrack, these conversations do more harm than good.
But the second episode, while not completely free of this problem (I won’t exactly call it a flaw, because the show doesn’t seem at all oblivious to what it is doing), is a clear indicator of why HBO might have decided to pick up the series for a second season. We already guessed that Luck’s strongest selling point would be its cast. Film legends like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina lead the list of players in this drama. And even if the premise doesn’t grip you inherently, they will. The cast—and the characters—are exemplary.
“Like the whole state economy, the track is desperate for new streams of revenue. The perfect f**king Trojan Horse.” – Ace
We see Hoffman’s Chester “Ace” Bernstein, just freed from a three-year stint in jail—all because he took the fall for his partner (the yet-unseen Michael Gambon)—getting readily back into the game. But as we learned in the pilot, Bernstein is not the man he used to be. His mind is going. His temper is unkempt. I predict a long, slow demolition of this character from the inside out. This week, Bernstein institutes a meeting with potential investors for his racetrack purchase—but his agitated demeanor is a deterrent to the men. Right by Ace’s side is the wide-eyed thug Gus (Farrina), whose experience with gambling is akin to that of the confused viewer I described above. Ep.2 Clip - Comprende? Although we haven’t seen Gus lose his cool just yet—he actually seems the kindest of the characters we’ve met so far—his one-off comment about plugging Ace’s betrayer Michael (Gambon) and Ace’s description of his assistant as “hot under the collar” might suggest a background in playing rough. It also might suggest a degree of projecting for Ace, whose collar is perpetually on fire. As the duo struggles to find its place back in the underworld, I find their scenes together to be delightfully classic. They’re an old school formula: Rocky and Mugsy. The small, shot-calling brains with the hot temper, and his mild-mannered, milder-minded muscle. A line of dialogue in the pilot makes the pairing really endearing: “I don’t trust anybody. Even myself,” says Bernstein, concluding to Gus: “You get a pass.” Unconditional (and unlikely) friendships amid worlds of deceit and corruption are terrific story devices. I’m looking forward to see how far this one takes us. “I appreciate the good fortune we’ve had, but ball-breaking over my wardrobe is not my idea of fun. And my mental adroitness is dulled by this constant negativity!” – Lonnie In the pilot, the band of Marcus (Kevin Dunn), Jerry (Jason Gedrick), Renzo (Ritchie Coster) and the Ringo the group, Lonnie (Ian Hart), were mostly just noise to wade through due to the heavy amount of technical chitchat about the gambling process. But the second episode boosted them up to a dynamic force, thrusting them at odds with one another due to divergent perspectives on how to handle their newfound riches. Marcus, the unofficial leader of the group and rejecter of all ideas not his own, insists that they all lay low with their intake for the time being, as not to attract any attention. The others succumb to various weaknesses. Jerry, apparently a gambling addict (there has to be at least one in a show like this) spends an inordinate amount of time losing at a poker table to a trash talking high roller. Lonnie lets two women get the better of him—they beat him senseless after he suggests that he’ll be cutting off ties (and funds). There’s something fantastically interesting about this aspect of the series: four men—not friends, not family, not coworkers…four men disconnected by everything except for their partnership in what might well prove to be a problematic financial deal—are bound to one another and forced to wade through the consequences together. Their actions affect each other (as Marcus chants throughout the episode), so they need to keep tabs on one another. When a badly injured Lonnie is delivered to the neighboring motel doors of Marcus and Renzo, the two anxiously take him into the room to tend to him. They’re all in this together, despite having absolutely no emotional connection to one another. Yet. Ep.2 Clip - Ready? “You know what breaking legs sounds like? Branches snapping…” – Walter
But the most wonderful part of the show, as we might have guessed from the first episode, is Nick Nolte’s Walter Smith. A pained, guilt-driven man whose heart bleeds endlessly. He loves horses. He can’t get over the murder of a prized racehorse who cost some business associates a good deal of money. And his heart bleeds (thought slightly less so) for young rider Rosie (Kerry Condon), whom he looks into helping out professionally after he refuses to let her handle the horse he most prizes presently. Smith is a man dipped in such a thick sap of sadness that every word he utters is so valuable. I cannot see this character getting boring, or alienating. He is pure, raw emotion, and his will be the journey—if only one rears—that keeps us adhered to the show cathartically. The remaining characters are interesting in their own right. Richard Kind plays Joey Rathburn, a version of his regular type amped up with more anxiety than he can handle. His business partner, trainer Turo Escalante (John Ortiz) is as hotheaded and distrustful as Bernstein is said to be. He chastises his good-natured jockey, the young Cajun boy Leon Micheaux (Tom Payne) for “flapping his mouth” about his horse’s ability. Escalante values the secrecy of his horse’s abilities in order to keep bets on and barters for him few and far between. When word gets out about the horse’s ability and a cowboy named Mulligan wagers a purchase, Escalante is furious—and Renzo, whose mission was to buy the horse himself, is let down. After the pilot, the second episode of Luck is a refreshing, deeply human piece of work that promises good things for the future of the show. What did you think of the episode? Are those of you with limited knowledge of the gambling world deterred by the show? How about those who know a lot about gambling—is the show getting it right? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter).
HBO announced today its newest original series, Luck, a drama centered on the world of horse racing, from writer David Milch (The Wire). Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies) will direct with an all-star cast including Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina and Nick Nolte. Kerry Condon, John Ortiz, and Tom Payne are also said to be on board.
The ensemble drama will explore the world of horse racing and gambling, with Hoffman starring as 'Ace Bernstein,' a recently paroled mainstay at the track. Nolte and Ortiz will both play horse trainers, the former as 'The Old Man,' a once famous trainer - the latter as the accomplished Peruvian trainer 'Escalante,' who has a seedy reputation. Farina will play Ace's right-hand man.
To recap: The Wire's David Milch writing, Michael Mann directing, and Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, and Nick Nolte starring. If that's not enough to get you to renew your subscription to HBO there's this exciting detail: Mann has said in the past that Milch's script for this series is one of the best he has ever had handed to him. Are you excited yet? I'm imagining an R-rated Seabiscuit, with lots of hard drinking, sex, cursing, and misogyny. Like Mad Men, but for horse racing.
Source: Deadline, EW
Kevin Dunn has joined HBO's drama pilot Luck, with Kerry Condon and Tom Payne also set and Nick Nolte in talks.
The horse-racing drama stars Dustin Hoffman and is exec produced by Michael Mann and David Milch.
The show delves into the worlds of horse racing and gambling through a diverse group of characters.
Dunn will play the prodigious misanthrope who is the ringmaster of a syndicate of misfits. Nolte would play the trainer of a top racehorse. Condon will play the exercise rider for the horse who is interested in an apprentice jockey.
Dennis Farina and John Ortiz are also to star.
Mann is directing the pilot.
The Scottish actor's Rome was a big hit in 2005 and 2006, but was cancelled in 2008.
Now, creator Bruno Heller has completed a script for a feature-length version of the controversial drama, which also featured Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Kerry Condon and James Purefoy.
And McKidd is keen to revive his violent soldier character Lucius Vorenus in the film, which is reportedly set years after the series ended.
The actor says, "It (show) was very popular when it was on TV and seems like it's become more popular since it's been taken off the air... I think it'll be a lot of fun to revisit those characters."
The two stars boarded their plane at London's Heathrow Airport two hours late and then had to wait a further eight hours until the flight took off.
But, rather than complain about the delay, the two co-stars decided to make the best out of a bad situation.
McAvoy tells WENN, "Everybody was in really good spirit. Thousands and thousands of people were trying to get their bags out of a mountain of bags but it was hilarious.
"Kerry got a big box of muffins and I got a lot of water and calcium tablets and we went around finding children who were crying and really annoying their parents, so we were like, 'Do you want a muffin?'"
Danny (Li) has lived his life with his "Uncle" Bart (Bob Hoskins) a fiery gangster who has trained Danny to be an enforcer and do his dirty work for him. In truth Bart has basically treated Danny like an animal--a dog to be exact collar and all--not a person. As soon as Danny's job of savagely beating those who had "wronged" his uncle is complete he goes back to his dark dank quarters. One day upon finding a benevolent blind man Sam (Morgan Freeman) playing a piano Danny discovers that he's more than merely a dog. Sam takes Danny into his home and teaches him about the piano and human relationships with the help of his step-daughter (Kerry Condon). All seems to be going well but the collar wrapped around Danny's neck is a link to his former violent life--and of course Bart. Heading down that path of redemption Danny winds up reluctantly going back to his uncle albeit in a different frame of mind. The tension builds as a massive showdown between Danny and Bart becomes imminent. It is only after his collar is taken off that Danny is unleashed.
It's usually not Jet Li's job to exude acting chops just execute the karate kind. But while the main thrust of Unleashed is the highly choreographed and entertaining fight sequences that show off his unbelievable skills the actor still tries his hand at keeping it real. Thankfully Unleashed is a decided improvement over most of Li's other nonsensical American movies (Cradle 2 the Grave anyone?) and is tailor-made for his broken English and acting range. Freeman on the other hand lends such an air of authenticity and workmanship to Unleashed that one wonders how the they were able to reel in the venerable actor hot off his Oscar-winning performance in Million Dollar Baby. He is simply perfect as the soft-spoken mild-mannered Sam. Then there is Hoskins. The robust British actor has had his fair share of Freeman-like success and has rightfully earned that same class of respect. But lately he seems to be taking any roles he can get no matter the size (see Son of the Mask. On second thought don't). It's clear playing Bart is a no-brainer for him but he tends to go unnecessarily over the top.
Director Louis Leterrier shows a knack for the action suggestive of a veteran filmmaker even though he's only made two movies. His first film 2002's The Transporter was a relative hit and as far as straight action movies and directorial debuts go it was a thing of beauty. The same can more or less be said for Unleashed. Simply put if this movie fails on any front it will not be due to a lack of blood sweat and tears from Leterrier. He captures both the fight sequences and the occasional poignancy with stark eloquence with every little detail in place. And the theatrics of it all--i.e. special effects loud-as-hell sound effects--doesn't hurt either. The Japanese-revenge genre is executed to a tee but he doesn't let it overstep its boundaries and turn the film into a cliché. It's not an easy thing to do and many directors would be unable to solve that conundrum. The only disparity between this project and his last is that he has probably less to work with this time around yet he has much more to lose. It's safe to say he does not crack under the pressure.