“THE WANNABE”Coda to the End of the New York Mob and Gangster Movie Genre
By H.S. Bayer
Writer-Director NICK SANDOW’S “THE WANNABEE” has NYC in its DNA – 30 locations over 20 days in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx, and a premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan.
The film features Vincent Piazza (“Jersey Boys”,“Boardwalk Empire”, “The Sopranos”) in a breakout role dynamically intertwined with equally electric Patricia Arquette (Oscar recipient for “Boyhood”, “Bringing Out the Dead”, and Emmy winner on “Medium”) as an outer-borough version of Bonnie & Clyde. The great Martin Scorsese and Dean Devlin served as executive producers.
A period piece based on events that transpired at the time of John Gotti’s trial in 1992, “The Wannabe” presents the perversely aspirational story of Mafia obsessed Thomas Greco (Piazza) and aging, yet sexually alluring Rose (Arquette), desperately seeking ‘to be somebody’. Living in a mob-movie fantasy that becomes tragic reality as their steamy cocaine infused affair spirals downward to an outlaw life of crime, the pair finally achieve ‘fame’ after they “rob the mob” that rebuffed them, en route to their inevitable violent demise.
“The Wannabe,” the 2nd film directed by Sandow, follows two decades of acting in more than 30 films, 20 TV shows (“Boardwalk Empire”, “Blue Bloods”, “Law & Order”) and numerous plays. Currently, Nick stars in “Orange Is The New Black” and had major roles in: “The Fitzgerald Family Christmas,” directed by Ed Burns, “The Hungry Ghosts,” written and directed by Michael Imperioli (who plays Piazza’s brother in The “Wannabee”), “The Accidental Husband”, “Resurrecting
“THE WANNABE,”Coda to the End of the New York Mob and Gangster Movie Genre, By H.S. Bayer
the Champ”, and Sidney Lumet’s HBO movie “Strip Search.” In 2004, Sandow starred in the 1st play at Michael Imperioli’s legendary Studio Dante – Baptism by Fire, and then directed the theatre’s 2nd play, Henry Flamethrowa and the 3rd play – Ponies. He also directed the screen rendition of “Ponies” in 2011. Sandow developed the script for “The Wannabe” over a number of years and came from the same neighborhood as Greco, growing up on gangster films and around that world.
Talent In Motion Magazine recently connected with Nick and had the chance to ask him a couple of questions about the film.
TIMMAG: What motivated the story for you?
NS: I read a few news articles on the real couple. I was fascinated with the character of the “Wannabe,” this desperation to want to be something you’re not. I always wanted to stay away from the gangster genre, but the story felt close to me. I could see my way into it – questions about identity… who do I think I am? Who do I want to be? What role does my relationship play in that. What role do movies and pop culture play in my idea of myself?
TIMMAG: How did these extremely talented leads and executive producing team fall into place?
NS: Patricia’s name came up in casting and as soon as she got in my head, I couldn’t let the thought of her as Rose go. Michael Imperioli introduced us. She read the script and came on board. Vincent did a reading of the script and was fantastic. Then I worked with him on Boardwalk Empire and we became friends. He got behind the script in a big way, brought the script to Scorsese and it took off from there. Scorsese read it and said – “I love it. What do you want to do”? Working with Marty was a dream come true. He and Dean wanted to tell the story I was after and they kept pointing me in that direction. I was very lucky… very lucky.