Dennis Farina, known for his roles as a tough-talking cop as well as playing their criminal counterparts, died at the age of 69 of a blood clot in his lung, his publicist announced Monday.
Notably, he served on the Chicago police force for two decades before becoming a recognizable Hollywood actor. It began when he was hired on as a cop to consult on Michael Mann's 1981 film "Thief," with the director casting him in a small role.
Farina continued working in the police force while building up his acting resume, making the jump to full-time acting in 1986. He went on to appear in TV shows like "Miami Vice," "Crime Story," and "Law & Order," and films including "Manhunter," "Get Shorty" and "Saving Private Ryan." With the news of his death, the actors, writers and directors who worked with Farina, as well the critics who appreciated his work, sung his praises:
Michael Mann – who in addition to "Thief," worked with Farina on "Miami Vice," "Crime Story" and "Luck" – told Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips:
He thought all he had to do to have a career as an actor was to be known as 'Dennis, the dream to work with.' Because everybody told him that. He was the best guy on the planet. And he was a lot more than a nice guy. He had the charisma and the ability as a storyteller and raconteur to hold your interest. He appreciated the fullness, the roundness, of human life.
Terry Kinney, who played opposite Farina in "A Prayer for My Daughter," also told Phillips:
He moved in a very natural way to begin with, and for a novice stage actor, that's really something. He didn't really suffer from nerves; he didn't have a problem going out there in front of people.
"Law and Order" producer Dick Wolf in a released statement said:
I was stunned and saddened to hear about Dennis' unexpected passing this morning. The 'Law & Order' family extends sympathy and condolences to his family. He was a great guy.
Farina guest starred most recently in Fox's "The New Girl." Jake Johnson, who played his son, said in a statement:
I feel very honored to have had the chance to meet, talk the Chicago Bears, and act with Dennis Farina. He is someone I will surely miss. I looked up to him personally and professionally. I am sad for his family, friends and his fans. We all will miss out.
Fellow "New Girl" castmember Zooey Deschanel said on Twitter:
I am completely devastated about Dennis Farina’s passing, I was lucky to have witnessed his charm and brilliance.— zooey deschanel (@ZooeyDeschanel) July 22, 2013
Joe Mantegna, who worked with Farina on "Bleacher Bums" posted this tribute on Twitter:
Words cannot express how I feel about the passing of my dear friend Dennis Farina. He was like a brother to me. I'm in shock..— Joe Mantegna (@JoeMantegna) July 22, 2013
STATEMENT PT 1 With the passing of Dennis Farina I’ve lost one my oldest and dearest friends.— Joe Mantegna (@JoeMantegna) July 22, 2013
STATEMENT pt 2 I share that loss with the entertainment industry, the Chicago police department and all his friends and family.— Joe Mantegna (@JoeMantegna) July 22, 2013
New York Magazine's TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz wrote:
Farina could be menacing or courtly, sometimes in the same moment, and he exuded physical authority in a way that few contemporary American actors do, probably because the former cop didn't start memorizing lines and wearing makeup and learning to hit marks until he was 37.
Time's TV critic James Poniewozik said:
Yet Farina was a real actor, not just a lucky beneficiary of casting. He could swear like a poet but also do comedy and play the nice guy.
Farina is survived by his three sons, six grandchildren and longtime companion Marianne Cahill.