In support of Sen. Norm Coleman’s campaign several right-of-center actors participated in a campaign video. Among the leftist blogs, most of the actors were insulted for being “has-beens” and “Bible thumpers.” Except one. Robert Davi was called a “great character actor.” Another said, “Don’t diss Robert Davi.”
An actor friend said, “Robert Davi is the kind of actor that other actors want to be. You want his roles. You want his commitment. You want his passion for ac ting.”
To many, Davi is best known for playing the bad guy. Jake Fratelli in The Goonies. Franz Sanchez in License to Kill. Aziz in An American Carol. He’s also been on the other side of the law as FBI Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard and Agent Bailey Malone in Profiler. In The Dukes Davi plays “Danny DePasquale,” a former Doo Wop singer whose time in the spotlight has passed. He is now working in his aunt’s failing restaurant. The Dukes is Davi’s debut as a writer and director.
“Directing is a way for me to open that book andexpress to the world much more of who I am and what I would like to say,” said Davi.
Like many of Davi’s roles, Danny has an edge. Danny’s Doo Wop group, The Dukes, once commanded large crowds, but after many decades pass, this now middle-aged guy finds himself unable to provide for his son. He tells his friends, “We’re not looking for jobs, we’re looking for money.”
When a man driving a Rolls Royce passes by, his friends imagine themselves in the driver’s seat. Danny sees his son and his ex-wife with her new boyfriend at the wheel. Danny has lost hope in his American Dream. Davi said:
“I wanted to tell a story for the every manbut with a light touch. By having a Doo Wop group, whose music is no longer seemingly relevant, parallel an industrial world changing to a technological one, I am able to explore the intricacies of re-defining oneself, dealing with lost fame and holding on to your true self in changing times through music and humor.”
In one of his most enjoyable on-screen performances, Chazz Palminteri plays George Zucco, a fellow “Duke” with perfect timing and the virility of a typical Italian man. Following a threat to George’s mojo – his smile – he and Danny find a new opportunity for The Dukes. They plan a heist to steal thousands and thousands of dollars worth of the dentist’s gold.
You can’t help but cheer for Danny because his desperation means that maybe all is not lost and there’s still some hope, not for stardom, but to do what he loves. It’s also worth mentioning that The Dukes has a wonderful soundtrack of Doo Wop and Italian classics, including a performance from Davi himself.
Writing about The Dukes is a struggle. As with any good story, one wants to share everything – the clever repartee between Davi and Palminteri, the many facets you notice after watching it two or three times, the police raid, the incredible case, the ending!
I had the chance to talk to Davi about his views and it’s clear that he has just as much passion for politics as he does for acting. Occasionally, the two intersect. While promoting An American Carol at the Republican National Convention, Davi gained even more credibility as someone with a deep understanding of international issues and conservative principles. Davi did many of the voiceovers for the convention videos and McCain-Palin campaign ads.
In an interview prior to the election, Davi told me, “The polarizing discord has grown… The press is bamboozling the American people. We’ve become a nation of Keith Olbermanns.”
Davi recently told the online site, The A.V. Club, “Hollywood is a very liberal community, for the most part. There are a lot of guys that are also conservative that are frightened or fearful of being able to come out. I’ve been a little more outspoken th an most, but the fear of it is that you get marginalized…”
Despite pressure from the cocktail party crowd, Davi has been a strong advocate against Islamo-fascism and has appeared on numerous political talk shows. Davi told me that many people that do understand the threat of Islamo-fascism still put party above country. Davi talked about a liberal friend that read Oriana Fallaci, the now deceased Italian writer that dared to tell the truth about Islamo-fascism despite numerous threats against her life. “In spite of that, the Democratic Party trumps concerns he has over the threat of radical Islam,” said Davi.
Many actors simply parrot liberal talking points and are considered intelligent or deep without ever having to defend their views. Davi actually participates in the policy debate on higher level. He sitson the Board of Directors of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Steering Committee of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. He is also a confirmed speaker for the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February.
Davi’s The Dukes, which opens nationally on November 21, has racked up numerous awards, including the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the Monte-Carlo Film Festival, the Queens Spirit Award for Best Producer and Best Director, among others. Rarely is a movie with this pedigree able to be enjoyed by such a broad audience, but The Dukes tells a wonderful story. Its message is universal – if you wait for perfection, you’ll miss your chance.