Interview With Paul Sparks
What's it like to play Mickey Doyle?
Oh, I love Mickey Doyle. I find there's a real kind of nobility to his struggle. He's a kid that's self-made. The fact that he's continually underestimated and divorces himself from dignity in order to get what he wants, and in order to survive-I have a lot of respect for how he's doing it. This is not an easy time to be alive, and it's certainly not an easy time to be around all these really dangerous people. He's also hilarious, and says hilarious things. It's a lot of fun to have that peanut gallery, and just toss things in. He will always be their foil whenever other people are trying to be serious or anything like that.
Whose team is Mickey on?
The thing about Mickey is that he really cares about his own survival and making money. And that's kind of it. He has very few loyalties to anyone except himself and it certainly makes him a very unique person because he will backstab anybody.
Why play dumb then? Jimmy tells him if he had a brain, he'd be dangerous.
I don't know if it's a kind of a survival shtick. The truth is that he's pretty clever. He's very aware of what is going on around him. In the scenes where they speak Italian around him - he knows what they're saying but he's very good at pretending as if he doesn't understand. I think that's pretty common for him. I think he clocks all the looks that happen between people, he listens to what people are talking about and probably has a few minions out there in the world that are feeding him information about what's going on. That's how he stays safe.
Is that why he teams with Van Alden?
I think he senses Van Alden is in trouble. Mickey's very intuitive about when people are in a place where they're stuck. And he's a good person to come to because he's not really inside of the big group. He's doing his own thing and I think Van Alden gets that. And so, Mickey sees it as, "How many tentacles can I have out in the world? I can have a tentacle with the Feds and I can have a tentacle with Nucky and I can have one with, with Jimmy or, whoever-the more the better." Even if you end up backstabbing everybody, in a way, it kind of cancels itself out: For every person that you backstab, you're helping someone else.
So what do you think Mickey's up to when he's not scheming?
The great thing about him is he could really have anything. He could live totally alone, and that would make sense. Or he could have a crazy wife, and a ton of strange kids that talk just like he does and that would also make sense. You know, there are a million things that could happen with Mickey.
If he had a family, would they all have had to change their name too?
I suppose being Irish at this time was a rung above being Polish. Part of me always thought he changed his name because, initially he was like, "Oh, well, Nucky is Irish. This will make me more appealing to him." But I think it had to do with how Polish people were perceived at the time. There were not a lot of Polish people in the criminal world; I can only assume that it was not a very strong syndicate of people. So even though Mickey doesn't operate in a gang specifically, there is some kind of advantage to being Irish.