Interview With Anthony Laciura
How and when did you find out about Eddie Kessler's storyline?
All I remember was that it was a Wednesday at 11:36. I said to Terry [Winter, show creator] when he called, "Well it's 11:36, this call. We'll say the time of death is 11:36." That's the hardest thing for the producer, to call and say your part's being written off. I don't envy it. We sign a contract knowing full well when the writers feel they need to do something to keep the series fresh, you saying auf Wiedersehen may be the thing that keeps it fresh. When you start questioning the "why," that's a big mistake.
Early on the season, Eddie is testy at breakfast. Is he surprised when Nucky asks for his opinion at the construction site?
He is. He's thinking, "You are asking for my opinion? All right, I'll tell you." I thought of it as an explanation to the mayor. To say, "Mr. Thompson is in the sky and sea. He is the dreams of children," is to mean, "You exist because he exists." What was cut out of that is after Bader gets out of the car, Nucky looks at Eddie and says, "In the dreams of children?"
What's going through Eddie's mind when he hands in his resignation?
After 11 years, it took a lot of chutzpah for Eddie to go there and say, "I'm fed up. Yes, you took care of me, and made sure I didn't die, but you left anyway." During this period, one could say Eddie had a lot of time to think about what happened, and he realizes he would like respect. Notice, Eddie handed Nucky back the money he offered, and he says, "That's beneath you." Money had nothing to do with it.
So Eddie is promoted and he spends the evening with Ralph Capone. It's rare that we see Eddie letting loose. What's behind it?
This is Eddie's first real encounter with a gangster—he's not serving him tea or booze. He's a little uncomfortable about the drop off and the whole business of the flower on the jacket, but he wants to make a good show. And Ralph wants to get something to eat, so the polite thing is make sure he gets something to eat. At dinner, he discovers there's a parallel in what they do: They're both serving bosses, but for Ralph, his happens to be a blood relative. And remember what we saw in 311 with the recitation of "If," the Rudyard Kipling, "You'll be a man my son." Is Nucky thinking about him as a father figure - and is he looking at Nucky as a son? It sure looked that way.
His night out with Ralph is a fun sequence.
What I liked is that it showed everybody Eddie does have some kind of life outside of Nucky. He goes to a German bar room with his friends, and they tease him, "Mr. You So Special Now." And we all sing. It's a drinking song, about how nice it is to be in Germany, how the Rhine is so beautiful. We're singing and drinking, and everything is beautiful.
And then he falls into Knox's clutches. Is it news of his family that breaks Eddie's spirit?
This fling he had with the person at the department store was looked upon by the morals of the day as a terrible thing. But it had to be something deeper that really upsets him, and that's that his sons think less of him. That was bad enough, but the worst was when he had to say that it was Nucky who told him what to do. That's the moment when he realized, I let my family down and the man who picked me up and gave me a life in America. When I did interviews early on, I would belabor the loyalty Eddie has for Nucky. You don't see it today. He had disillusioned his own blood, and now, the American son that he has taken care of and taken a bullet for.
And Knox implies it's the first of many meetings.
So there is nothing he can do. The only way to save Nucky is to sacrifice himself. When Knox hands me the cane, I think he's going to hit me, but I take the cane and walk out as nobly as I can. That was the saddest because the decision had been made at that point. I don't believe that Eddie was thinking of himself at all; he's thinking of everybody else.
So Eddie goes home with his mind already made up. It's interesting we see his room, because we're getting even more insight about him.
It's very sparse, but he has his music. By the way, that pen he uses is the one Nucky Johnson gave Lou Kessel [the real life inspiration for Eddie Kessler].
Eddie proves meticulous to the end, rolling Nucky's socks.
To the very end. It's funny, Steve [Buscemi] said, "You realize the last thing I say to you is to yell at you about how the socks don't match. And then you go kill yourself." It's like in Episode 402 when Eddie hands in his resignation, and Nucky says "Because of the eggs?"
And then Eddie takes his leap.
It was great to have my own scene but to end my time there without having the last scene with Nucky . . . The play that we have with each other, the way it's written, it's very strong. The last time we speak it's about the socks. It was moving for Steve, he kept realizing: This is it.
Do you other favorite moments this season?
The obvious one is about Nucky being in the dreams of children. The other is when I kick the poor girl out of Nucky's room in the season premiere. When she gets dressed, I turn my head and the other guys turn their heads in respect. It's the portrayal of the old world that continued throughout the show and got stronger. Never saying you should do this or you should do that, but to learn by example.
It's been four of the most wonderful, miraculous years of my life. People say, "But you sang at the Metropolitan Opera for 27 years." There's a freedom in acting: When you're reading someone's lines, you make the tempo. You're part of the creation of it. Whereas in opera, in singing, it's fantastic, but it's almost unnatural to sing without a mic for 4000 people. You're spitting back what is written by the composer, great as it is. The freedom you have is in your particular interpretation, but you're still regimented by the structure of the music itself. This, every time you're filming, you're in an acting class surrounded by great actors. And you're thinking, can anyone be luckier than this? I was Eddie Kessler on 'Boardwalk Empire' for four seasons.