Dennis Farina's playing for laughs on 'In-Laws' show

Sunday, September 15, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- While Dennis Farina's most memorable roles are tough cops -- or criminals -- he's no stranger to comedy.

"I think there is something very nice about going to work to try to make people laugh," he says.

Yes, it's nice work if you can get it, and the 58-year-old actor's got it now in his first sitcom -- the new NBC cross-generational comedy "In-Laws." The series premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.

He plays Victor Pellet, a self-made man who's not particularly fond of his son-in-law, Matt Landis (Elon Gold). To make matters worse, Pellet's daughter, Alex (Bonnie Somerville), and Matt live at home with Pellet and his wife (Jean Smart).

The comedy is inspired by Gold's real-life experiences.

Farina, though no longer married, is the father of three grown sons, five times a "grandpa," and, of course, a father-in-law. "Not a meddlesome one," he avers, grinning.

But he understands Pellet's control-freak ways.

"I'm set in my own ways. I like to do the things I want to do when I want to do them," Farina admits.

He hopes his depiction of Pellet will be witty in the subtle, realistic style of the 1950 movie "Father of the Bride," starring one of his favorite actors, Spencer Tracy, rather than the broader satirical style of the 2000 hit movie "Meet the Parents" with Robert De Niro.

Born to Italian immigrant parents, Farina grew up in Chicago, where he still lives.

As has been oft-told, he was a policeman for years and became a full-time actor after a meeting with Michael Mann led to a small role as a henchman in the director's 1981 crime drama "Thief," which starred James Caan. In the years since then, he's been successful in both comedy and drama.

His serious films in recent years include "Saving Private Ryan" and "Reindeer Games."

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