Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Films
While he was a student at Ohio State, Tommy Reid was a self-described mafia buff; the kind of person who would spend his spare time watching gangster films like “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas.” When his roommate at OSU told him about the legend of Cleveland mobster Danny Greene, the tale immediately grabbed his interest.
“Kill the Irishman,” a film which Reid has spent 13 years trying to produce, opens in Columbus theaters this Friday.
The movie, which is directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and stars Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer.
The film tells the story of Greene’s life as a gangster and how his death eventually led to the downfall of mafia families across the country.
One of the factors that made the story so attractive to Reid was its Cleveland setting, as it isn’t a city that most people associate with organized crime.
“Kill the Irishman” intends to tell a chapter of Ohio’s history that Reid feels is too often ignored.
“Everyone thinks the mafia comes from Chicago, Boston and New York,” Reid said. “There was a major presence of the mafia in the northern Ohio area, including Toledo, Youngstown and the Cleveland area.”
Reid is an advocate of bringing more filmmaking to Ohio, but tax incentives dictated that production of “Kill the Irishman” take place in Detroit rather than Cleveland.
“When you’re not making a big studio-backed movie, you’ve got to hedge your risk as much as possible on your investment,” Reid said.
The opportunity to make the movie first showed when Reid met with Rick Porrello, author of the book “To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia.” This book became the inspiration for the final film, though getting it to cinemas proved to be anything but an easy task.
“So many producers in Hollywood give you the smoke and mirrors where they tell you that they’re going to make your movie,” Reid said. “Those things always fall to the wayside and never happen.”
Reid hopes that the film is able to gain a substantial following in the state of Ohio, and that it’s able to remind filmgoers of a story that is in danger of being forgotten.
“It seems like it’s almost becoming an urban legend in the state of Ohio and in the Cleveland area.” Reid said. “Not a lot of people know about it. It seems like all of our parents and grandparents know about it, but you lose the 20-something demographic.”
Reid said that his time as a student at OSU helped him gain an appreciation for Ohio’s rich history.
“It’s the friendships that I made at Ohio State that has led me to learn about so much of the history about the state of Ohio,” Reid said. “It was very vital during those years to learn more about the areas of Ohio that I’ve never been to before and what the history is of every city.”
“Kill the Irishman” will be showing at the Rave Motion Pictures Polaris 18, the AMC Lennox Town Center 24 and the AMC Easton Town Center 30.