No one will say Ray Iannicelli hasn’t lived a full life. The New York native has been acting for thirty years and counting, most recently appearing in the new Bill Murray movie St. Vincent and with a role in the upcoming Jamie Foxx-led remake of the beloved musical Annie. We spoke to Ray next week to talk with him about a life lived in front of the camera.
What could he tell us about his two latest parts? “In both, I wear a dress and I dance and sing,” he quipped, but seriously now: “In Annie, I’m the owner of an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. I have a couple of scenes with Quvenzhane Wallis [who plays Annie]. She was great to work with, very easy to work with. It was kind of an eye-opener for someone to be so young and be so poised.”
As for St. Vincent, “I’m in the bar, I’m the bartender,” Ray continued, “and the great thing about working with Bill is, he’s very easy to work with and he’s very generous as an actor. He’s there, he’s the star, but he’s very encouraging for other actors to improvise and to do their thing. He’s very magnanimous with everybody on the set. I have a couple of scenes with him. One of the great things with Bill is we had a fight [in the movie], so that was great.”
Other lines on Ray’s lengthy resume include films like Rounders and Don’t Say A Word, and television appearances on Oz, The Good Wife and Without A Trace. He also has the distinction of not only having appeared on each of the three Law & Order series, but having played multiple characters on each of them. One of his favorite memories goes back to the very beginning.
“The first big movie I did was Prizzi’s Honor,” he reflected, “and working with the director John Huston, and having a scene with Jack Nicholson, that was a great experience. After that, I walked on water for about six months. That was a terrific experience.
“Working with John, a legend in the business, that was great. He was a gentleman. He didn’t give much direction,” he added with a laugh. “His favorite thing was ‘Ray, little bit more. Ray, little bit less.'”
He’s happy to share stories about the great individuals he’s worked with, but when you ask Ray about the many things that he’s accomplished, he’s just content to be doing something that he loves. “It’s just great to work. Get up and get out of the house – my wife is very happy when I get out of the house,” he joked. “I’m kind of happy with my life. I’m married, I have a son, I’m going to be a grandfather. My wife and I travel. I just take it day by day at this point.”
Asked what one lesson he’s learned from his time in the entertainment business that he’d pass on to others, “I think you have to be kind. I think you have to be kind to other people,” he told us. “When you’re doing a movie or you’re doing a TV show, there are a million people involved. There’s so many people and sometimes things are so rushed.
“It’s nice to be able to go over to somebody and just have a nice conversation. I remember one actor I was working with, very young, he was so nervous he was crying. I went over to him, we started to talk, and things got a little better for him. It’s a lot of pressure sometimes, and we’re all human, we all make mistakes.”
Ray is currently working on the miniseries Show Me A Hero for HBO, and waiting for Annie to open in December. But unlike many other actors, his career isn’t his main focus. This hard-working veteran actor from Brooklyn is more concerned with spending time with his loved ones. “I’m looking forward to the holidays. I’m looking forward to being a grandfather,” he told us. “At my particular age, I have so much to be grateful for.”
You can see Ray now in St. Vincent and again when Annie opens on December 19.
(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.