BENSONHURST — For one young Bensonhurst-born actor, having the opportunity to appear in “The Irishman” was both exciting and “nerve-wracking.”
Dominick LaRuffa, Jr., who plays one of Joe Colombo’s sons in the epic film, appears in a pivotal scene that made the final cut of the Martin Scorsese-directed film — which has been nominated for five Golden Globe awards, including best picture – drama, best director and best supporting actors for Al Pacino who plays Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Pesci who portrays Russell Bufalino — and to his delight, he is also in the trailer for the film.
“My first day on set, September 18, 2017, was also the first day of production,” he told this paper.”If my first studio contract wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, add Martin Scorsese, most of the main producers, all of the department heads (most of whom are Academy Award nominees/winners in their own right), 300 background actors and a crew bigger than the last half-dozen independent films I’ve done combined, and you can maybe get a sense of the scope of it all.”
However, his enthusiasm about appearing in the film — which had been viewed 26 million times in its first week of being released on Netflix — helped LaRuffa overcome his nerves.
“All of that contributed to making it such an indelible memory,” he said. “The nervousness, the excitement, the collective emotional connection of everyone (especially the day-in and day-out crew), knowing we were embarking on a six-month journey of something so self-evidently special. That was clear on day one.”
He admitted basking in the support of family and friends, calling it, “the most worthwhile thing of all,” stressing that he wanted to stay humble throughout the process. “I’ve tried to do my best to be honest about the size/relevance of my role.
“We live in this era of relentless self-promotion, often aggrandizing our day-to-day life and achievements,” LaRuffa continued. “And as important as I know it is in my particular profession, I do my best to be honest and keep things grounded in something resembling reality. So, I made clear over the two years between my shooting days and the world premiere(s), that I might not even make the final cut.”
Much to the delight of the Bensonhurst native,however, his scene was not only in the movie watched by millions, but also the trailer.
“I personally know actors with resumes much more extensive than my own, who shot for much longer than I did and have very little, if any, of their work make the final edit,” Laruffa Jr. said. “But that’s the thing about being in an instant timeless classic of such far-reaching note. It doesn’t matter if you’re in this thing for three seconds or 30 minutes. You’re in it. My children will know this picture, likely, my grandchildren as well. It’s a feeling more worthwhile than most jobs in our field can seldom provide.”
LaRuffa has a lot coming down the pipeline.Thus far, for 2020, he has three bookings in feature films, all of them strong supporting or co-leading roles.
“All [of the films] have some bonafide star power attached,” he said. These are “Tale of the Wet Dog” directed by Joe Benedetto, “All Mobbed Up,” directed by John Gallagher, “who is a staple/legend of New York filmmaking, … and a dark and gorgeous noir-thriller penned by Jack Stallings called ‘Abandoned Heights’ produced by Fred Roos.”
That said, LaRuffa hasn’t quit his “day job” yet. “I’m still a bartender. This Scorsese film has certainly changed and benefited my life in a myriad of ways,” he said. “But I’m also still a bartender, and that’s okay, too. So, if anyone reading this feels like making a trip to Harlem on a Friday or Saturday night, please come see me at the Grange, one of the best restaurants and cocktail bars to be found in any borough, if I may be so bold to say, and I’ll give you the skinny on some of my favorite ‘on set’ stories.”
Although LaRuffa currently lives on the Upper West Side, he still visits his old haunts regularly.
“My grandma is still on 19th Avenue, so I go back as often as I can,” he said.
LaRuffa is represented by Rashad V. Chambers of Esquire Entertainment.