Lucky gets some surprising news from Rothstein about "Mrs. Darmody" in Episode 6... How does he feel about learning he's with Jimmy's mother, not his wife?
It's startling! We actually tried that take a lot of different ways because there are a lot of things going on. First off, he's there to do something very sinister, which is kill — whether it's a husband or a son. But it's definitely unsettling to realize he was with this man's mother. At the same time to counter that, there's a bravado.
Lucky really confides to Gillian about his affliction — that's a lot of honesty for a gangster. What is it about Gillian that gets him going?
He's a 22-year-old young man who has no therapy, no one to talk to about sexual dysfunction and this woman embodies the cure - this is arguably the first woman who has made him feel like his old self again. And his old self is, what, a year prior? But a year when you're 20 feels like a decade. So it's almost idolatry: She's blonde, she's a dancer; this is a woman that's out of his league. So he has this very intimate moment with a beautiful, exotic, sexy woman and she is seemingly returning very genuine affection to him. Also, he doesn't have a relationship with his own mother and he finds out this woman is a mother and he's opened up to her, it's almost a psychological epiphany - "Oh my God, I talked to a mother. There's a mother in my life." There's something very Freudian tied into the whole thing.
But later, with Nucky, he talks trash about Gillian.
It's a complex male psychological thing but when you have your manhood back, you're kind of sowing your oats. He feels he's got his groove back. He feels he can charm, he can bluster, he can just loud mouth off a bit to Nucky. Also, there's something very intimidating about Nucky, and Lucky has a real feeling of inferiority around him so he can't show he cares about anything. If you act like you don't care it's because you really care.
You did six months of research, reading biographies and sharing information with Michael Stuhlbarg [Rothstein]. Was there anything specific that you discovered that unlocked the young Luciano for you?
There isn't one thing and that's what makes Lucky such an interesting character to play and also a real challenge. I was given a very nice road map by Marty [Scorsese] in my first meeting with him. He pointed to the performance of Lucky Luciano by the actor Gian Maria Volonte in the 1974 Francesco Rosi film 'Lucky Luciano,' and that was, according to him, the most accurate portrayal of Luciano as an adult. So having seen what kind of grace and elegance, yet viciousness and power he achieved, you need to work backwards. There are a number of very traumatic events that shaped his life that I learned about through criminal records, through his own personal accounts. The other thing is, you're not always going to tell the truth about yourself so I relied on a lot of other gangsters chiming in as well. You kind of find the truth and hopefully tell it with a degree of accuracy.
A lot of people say, "I always knew Lucky Luciano as a very smooth, very elegant, very powerful man." All the accounts of him as an older man were that he was very genteel but he still had the look of smothered violence behind his eyes. Well if he had smothered violence as an adult, there had to be violence existing as a young man. He had to learn how to suppress his natural animosity towards people he doesn't care for. So we find a number of these events throughout his career that taught him tough love: arrests, beatings, deals gone awry, loveless relationships. All these things shaped him into this nefarious character.