Now that names like Paul Giamatti, Chris Cooper and John C. Reilly have moved on to leading man status, it leaves a movie fan wondering who the next great supporting star will be. And with breaking news on two major film roles, you might be smart to put your money on chameleonesque character actor John Ortiz.
"I'm going to be shooting 'Public Enemies,' that Michael Mann's directing with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale," said the "American Gangster" and "Miami Vice" actor. "And then, next is '[The Fourth] Fast and the Furious' with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker coming back."
That high-adrenaline racing film is due to shoot later this year, while "Enemies" will reunite Ortiz with the legendary crime director who oversaw his paranoia-driven drug dealer performance in "Miami Vice."
"['Enemies'] is about the life of John Dillinger, and the gangsters of the 1930's," Ortiz said of the flick, which will also star "La Vie en Rose" Oscar-nominee Marion Cotillard. "It’s totally old school. All of the gangster films that we see, and the stories, including 'American Gangster,' it started with those guys back in the 30's."
And, taking a significant step towards leading man status, Ortiz has landed the role of one of the most famous Italian-American gangsters of all time.
"I'm playing Frank Nitti, who's a Sicilian gangster," Ortiz said of the man they called "The Enforcer," portrayed by Bruce Gordon in "The Untouchables" TV show, Sylvester Stallone in the 1975 movie "Capone," Stanley Tucci in "Road to Perdition," and tossed from a roof by Kevin Costner in 1987's "Untouchables" movie.
In real life, Nitti served as the right-hand man for Al Capone during his heyday, only to eventually go to prison and then commit suicide after his release. "He was already kind of established," Ortiz said of the timeline in which "Public Enemies" will depict Nitti.
An adaptation of Brian Burrough's book "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43," Mann's Depression-era flick will focus on such infamous names as Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Depp is scheduled to play the legendary bank robber, while Bale will portray FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Principal photography begins in March.