The afternoon began as it often does on location shooting scenes for season 1 of A&E’s series Breakout Kings. The crew was bouncing around the lot of a small but believable makeshift ‘Brooklyn’ Hardware store, security was on strong detail against set invaders and ‘U.S. Marshal Ray Zancanelli’ was doing what he does best: catching cons.
Between takes, staff usher ‘Ray’ to the basement of the shoot location, a hardware store. He immediately owns the first chair in sight and scopes the room like any cop worth his salt. Except, nothing is truly real in this scenario, after all it is a film shoot. ‘Brooklyn’ is actually just the sanitized doppelganger city of Toronto, and ‘U.S. Marshal Ray Zancanelli’ isn’t even a real person, he’s a character from the series.
Enter Domenick Lombardozzi, a Bronx born actor who’s made a career humanizing law enforcement on screen in HBO’s The Wire and 24, an actor so convincing as a cop teetering between the lines of good and evil that it becomes difficult to separate him from his character.
You’ve played a lot of interesting cops over the years, what makes Ray Zancanelli different in comparison?
Ray, yeah. Well, you know, he’s just like a lot of the other characters but he’s flawed. So I knew there was always something for him. There was always a goal to get that badge back, to get his relationship back with his daughter, and get that respect back. But needless to say, there’s a void in his life and really nothing that validates him. And given the opportunity to run this task force over again, it just sends a spark in him.
So there’s a lot of different ways we could go with the character. We just have to see what the writers decide to do.
Research wise, how did you prepare yourself to play such a flawed cop?
It’s pretty straightforward in the writing as to what these guys do. I have a little knowledge from doing movies and shows about cops and FBI, they all play different. Everyone thinks they’re the same job, but they all act differently. I mean, even if you have narcotics and you have homicide, they’re two different breed of cops, completely.
Considering your body of work, how did you land this part? Did you have to go through the audition process?
Yeah, I was in L.A. for about a week, read the pilot, amongst other pilots, it was pilot season. So you’re constantly reading scripts, and it really jumped at me. I was like, I’d really like to see myself do this, and I went in, and there were the show creators. And their audition process was really great. I mean they really worked with you, wanted to see if you were able to, sway back and forth and do certain things. It was awesome.
I left there thinking well, I have a shot or maybe not, because originally I thought the character was supposed to be a little older. But it’s the first week in L.A., and I felt pretty good leaving this room, because they made it feel really important. And sometimes you can leave those rooms and they’re very cold, but it wasn’t the case with this job.
Your character could easily be a con under a different set of circumstances, if that were the case, what would be his skill as a Breakout King?
It would probably be tracking. I look at it this way; Ray would be the male version of the con Erica.
But, Erica could be tough although Ray’s not as pretty; she knows how to track down people. She can look at a situation and assess it in a different way. She can anticipate a fugitive’s next move, where, Lloyd is very psychological, works with the mind. Everybody just brings something different to the table, but it’s Ray that sometimes knows from past experiences how a criminal mind works.
You’ve been on a couple of critically acclaimed shows, how difficult does that make picking current projects?
I mean once I wrapped The Wire, it’s wrapped. And a lot of the success that came along with The Wire came way after we finished it. So while we were shooting it I remember reading for movies during the hiatus, during the third season, and casting directors didn’t know what The Wire was.
So it sort of passed us and two or three years later, all the DVDs come out, everybody’s watching, and that’s where it sort of got its prestige.
Watch Video: Meet the Cast - Domenick Lombardozzi