Mike Starr: He’s a Goodfella

Mike Starr: He’s a Goodfella

A year later, Mike Starr would see his popularity soar even higher when he starred in Berry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon” – alongside Christopher Murney. “Chris and I sometimes were the only two who felt like it was a comedy,” he laughed. “Sometimes I would just lose it with the adlibbing and he would say. ‘You big jerk would you stop you we have to shoot this scene!’ I remember the first take of the ninja scene when Bruce Leroy rescues Laura and I turned to Chris and said, ‘Did you order out?’ And he lost it. He fucking howled. They told me I couldn’t say that and Chris said, ‘We’re getting that in, watch’ and he did it the next take and it was in – he was fearless.” Starr continued, “It was non-stop fun. The film was very clever – I think the writer was banned from the set. I also got to work with a lot of my best friends on that film – best boys, electricians and other guys. I mean I’m from New York so they looked out for me – but boy did they prank me – I think I got every prank that people pull on a set. And I fell for every last one of them.”

Fans of the cult classic may be shocked to hear it, but the original script called for Starr’s character to get shot and killed off by Leo O’Brien’s character, Richie – but, Starr and his character were saved by Gordy. “Berry just said, ‘Rock’ – he called me my characters name – ‘Rock, we can’t kill you, you’re lovable!’ So they padded me up and had Leo kick me in the balls instead. They didn’t want me to be physical – they wanted me to be more comical because of Rock being lovable. And Berry Gordy knows what works.”

Throughout the last 25 years, Starr has been cast in numerous feature films and television shows – “Lean on Me”, “Uncle Buck”, “Funny Farm”, “The Bodyguard”, “Miller’s Crossing” and “Law & Order:SVU” to name a few, but he looks to two films that show his best range as an actor. “‘Ed Wood’ and ‘Mad Dog and Glory’ get the most notice from directors and writers because I got to play parts that weren’t clichéd,” Starr said. “In Ed Wood I felt very comfortable in my skin.”

One role that saw Starr put on new skin was as the drunken clown, Pooter. “’Uncle Buck’ was so much fun,” Starr exclaimed. “John Hughes is so underappreciated in my opinion. He changed everything with the young actors and he broke through so much. It was so funny with John Candy. It was all adlibbed except for the line about being a god. It all just came to me.”

Starr had the opportunity to work with Gene Wilder on a couple of projects as well, including “Murder in a Small Town”. “It was spectacular,” he beamed. “I couldn’t wait to get to the set. I used Gene’s expertise a lot on that film. I really was proud of that.”

Something else Starr is proud of is his work in the Oscar nominated “Goodfellas” – directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is widely considered an American classic and has found itself included in the National Film Registry. “It’s the only time I have written a letter to a casting director,” Starr explained. “And I just thought I was in a different world being told to rehearse with ‘Bob’ (De Niro). And working with Martin was great. People have this image of Scorsese that he’s this very serious guy – and he’s not. He is focused and has a great sense of humor.”

Even more special for Starr is the movie was a family affair – as his brother and his children joined him on set. “I have been in a few films with my brother – including ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ – and it was special to be in ‘Goodfellas’ with him. In the wedding scene, he plays (Ray) Liotta’s dad and I also had two of my kids on set with me that week because my wife was taking her medical school finals – so they were in it too – and Beau is my youngest daughter’s godfather so it was special to have us all there together.”

After “Goodfellas”, Starr’s next blockbuster was the comedy “Dumb and Dumber”. “I can’t believe the effect ‘Dumb and Dumber’ has on people,” Starr said. “The Farrelly brothers told me that Jim (Carrey) didn’t want a comedian in that role. He wanted a guy who was a serious actor and played guys like that character seriously. And there were a lot of times people didn’t think I could handle serious roles because of that character.”

The roles kept coming, however, and still do today. Starr will next be seen in “The Bronx Bull”, a movie about Jake Lamotta before and after the rage. “It should be interesting,” Starr pointed out. “William Forsythe is great and Joe Mantegna is an old friend. Joe’s an interesting study and has a very relaxed energy.”

Starr is also hopeful he can return to the stage down the road – especially if he can do so alongside his friend Jeff Garlin, whom Starr believes is, “something to see on stage.” Starr knows, however, that his youthful outlook will serve him well no matter his next project happens to be.

“I feel I’m just beginning again. I feel like a kid. I’m coming comfortably into a different age range and settling into myself better.”

And all of that leads Starr to tell himself and his fans, “The best is yet to come.”