For ‘Boardwalk Empire’ actor Anthony Laciura, Atlantic City has become a very special place thanks to the granddaughter of the man he portrays on the HBO show.
After coming in for a reading, a casting executive told Laciura they enjoyed it and said they were going to send the screen test to Scorsese and that they’d let him know.
bout 20 days later the casting team called and asked if Laciura would read for Scorsese and Winter.
“So I did that second one and a couple days after that I was called and told I was Eddie Kessler.”
Although Laciura resembles Kessel, he’s the first to admit he’s not an exact match. Kessel was 260 pounds; Laciura is much lighter, especially now after shaving off several pounds over the past year.
However, the actor emphasizes that he’s playing a fictional character who is based on a real person.
A real person he knows a lot about.
“Lou was a wrestler in Austria,” says Laciura. “He has a history of a lot of jobs — bartender, cab driver, wrestler, and whatever else, and probably in his mind the luckiest day of his life was when Nucky hired him. And I think that probably he felt such a loyalty [to Nucky.]
“I mean you see a lot on the show where [Eddie] is never thanked. In the first season he saves Nucky’s life and the next day a guy comes [to see Nucky] and Eddie says to Nucky, ‘Shall I frisk him?’ And Nucky says, ‘What are you Tom Mix now? No, get outta here!’ In this day and age people don’t understand that you don’t have to be praised for what you’re hired to do; you just do your job.”
Laciura adds, as Nucky would say to Lou (aka Eddie): “’You’re supposed to save my life as well as shave me.’ So there’s the gamut: ‘You’re supposed to make sure my breakfast is done and clean the plates when it’s over with, that’s it. You’re supposed to take care of all the women so that I have no problems. Make parties and make sure I’m there at the right time and make sure that I have the right clothes and the right shoes.’”
Prior to meeting with Satz and her family, Laciura found Kessel’s birth certificate online and learned that he was from Austria, his parents were Russian Jews and that he came to Atlantic City at 24, building rolling chairs initially.
“He was a family man,” says Laciura. “He had one son and three daughters, he was a Free Mason, he had curly hair, my hairline — or what used to be my hairline — and a wonderful, beautiful, healthy handlebar mustache. And he was a very likable person to all those who he met and knew him. According to what Jamie [has told me] everybody that loved Nucky, they had a similar affection for Lou.
“What I did find out from reading letters that Nucky had written, was that the biggest regret that Nucky had was that the day Lou was buried — and I did, by the way, visit his grave site [and] put a stone on his headstone [and] took pictures — they wouldn’t release [Nucky] from prison just that few hours to pay his respects to Lou and of course the family. And he said that he would never forget that because Lou was the best man he ever knew. And I thought that showed how much respect [Nucky had for Lou].”
ACWEEKLY.COM WEB EXTRAS:
On working with Steve Buscemi:
"We were filming on location one day and it was in a park. And one of the park rangers' friend worked with Steve's father. He worked in the New York Maintenance [Department] and so the gentleman came up to me, his friend, and said, 'Listen, my friend worked with Steve Buscemi's father. Do you think you could [help him meet him]; do you work with him?' And I said, 'Well, on the show I take care of him. I'll go ask and see what i can do. You guys stay here.'
"And I was walking towards Steve and he must have seen [the ranger]; we're all aware of who's around [on the set]. So I said, 'Are you busy?' [And he barked back]: 'NOT NOW!' And I said, 'Well, OK.' And he says, 'Well, what do they want?' And I said, 'Well, one of the gentlemen worked for your father and he'd just like to say hello.' And he said, 'Well, OK, tell him afterwards.'
"And so I turn away thinking: He saw me coming and he saw Eddie! He saw Eddie! He didn't see Anthony; he saw Eddie. And he responded [like Nucky would to Eddie].
"So sure enough after we cut, we took 15 [minutes] or so, and so Steve came back and said, 'Don't leave.'
"And so I stood there and they met and the man [who had worked for Steve's father] had tears in his eyes, saying, 'I want to thank you. Your father was so wonderful to me.' And his father's top notch, because I know Steve's mother and father, and [the guy] was really genuine, [saying] 'Oh, he's done this and he helped my family, helped my children — everything.'
"So you can see what a wonderful man Steve is [and] his parents are so spectacular. So after they left he said, 'Listen,' and I said, 'I know what you're going to say.' And Steve says, 'I saw Eddie! I didn't see you, I just saw Eddie coming at me!' And I said, 'I know!'
"So we break for lunch and he's next to me and I said, 'Do you want some green beans?' And he says, 'Yeah, I'll take some green beans.' And then I said, 'Do you want some of the macaroni?' And he says, 'Yeah, I'll take some — what are you doing?' And I said, 'Well, I was just taking care of you and making sure you ate.' And he says [with a big laugh], 'Get outta here!'
"But you focus and you see that this man is such a consummate actor that he's focussing [on set] and when you get out of a scene and you know you have some time [between scenes] ... when you immediately leave, there's a brief period of time — like when you take your contact lenses out and your eyes still [see] very good and then all of a sudden they go zoop! It's a brief period like that, when [Laciura assumes Kessler's German accent] I know i don't have to speak like this and I can go back to normal. "
Boardwalk Empire creator Terry Winter on Anthony Laciura:
“He’s great. From the minute I met him he made me laugh.
"I mean he came for the audition and he had us rolling on the floor. And he doesn’t have to do anything. He’s just naturally funny. He doesn’t overdo it and he doesn’t need to. And the dynamic between him and Steve Buscemi is just great.
The famed seaside resort that is portrayed in HBO's hit drama series Boardwalk Empire celebrated the show's second season premiere on Sunday, Sept. 25, in a number of ways over the weekend.
“[Empire’s] helped remind people of what a colorful history we’ve had as a city, and helped bring these things back into focus for some people. And I think the fact that the series is very well regarded only helps.”
Seashore history is slippery — some accounts place Capone and his fellow delegates at the President, and Nucky’s digs on the Ritz’s eighth floor — but by any measure, the 1920s roared extra loud in Atlantic City.
In the second part of "Nucky Johnson," the distinguished panel of Atlantic City historians go deeper into the life of the real man behind HBO's Nucky Thompson: Enoch "Nucky" Johnson.
Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, treasurer of Atlantic County, ruled the rackets and the Republican Party in Atlantic City. Former cabbie Louie Kessel ordered his master’s life. Home base was the posh Ritz Carlton Hotel at Iowa Avenue and the Boardwalk (near today’s Tropicana).
“At this point I was asked what part of Germany I’m from, and I told them [in perfect English] ‘I’m from the south Bronx.’”
After retiring as a professional opera singer, Anthony Laciura figured he’d channel his energies into helping budding operatic stars hone their craft ... Then came a call from the office of the director of the planned HBO series 'Boardwalk Empire'
In real life, Nucky Johnson, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk emperor during the 1920s, did eventually marry a former showgirl and actress, a local woman named Flossie Osbeck. But that didn’t happen until one day before Johnson began serving a four-year prison term for tax fraud in 1941. There’s little historical evidence to support the fact that Lucy is patterned after Osbeck.
1912 Prohibition Party Convention
Life After Jimmy