Pride and Glory: Casting Edward Norton and Colin Farrell

The first actor cast in Gavin O'Connor's new cop melodrama “Pride and Glory” was Edward Norton.

Edward Norton

“Gavin and I have always thought that Edward is among the finest actors in the world, so he was always at the top of our list to play Ray,” Greg says.

Gavin adds that Norton was integrally involved in the development of his role. “We did a lot of biographical work on the character of Ray, who was a rising star in the NYPD until an earlier incident compromised his integrity and sent him into a kind of self-imposed exile, working in Missing Persons. For a detective in the NYPD, Missing Persons is like being banished to Siberia. A cop on the rise doesn't go to Missing Persons.”

Ray's voluntary banishment comes to an end when his father, the Chief of Manhattan Detectives, comes to him on a volatile narcotics/homicide investigation involving the murder of four NYPD officers, including Ray's onetime partner and best friend. Knowing it could have far-reaching ramifications for his department, the Chief practically begs Ray to take over the case and, reluctantly, Ray agrees.

Norton says, “I think Ray's father, brothers and colleagues all think that Ray wants to get back into the game, but Ray's secret is that he's more than ready to leave it all behind. I don't think anybody realizes the degree of his disillusionment because of the burden of another incident in his past. Ray's dilemma is different from anything I've ever played. It's a conflict between his own interests and his internal sense of right and wrong, between his loyalty to his comrades in arms and his loyalty to his family.

“It was an interesting challenge for me as an actor,” Norton continues, “because at first you're wondering, 'What's with this guy' And then there's a slow peeling away of the layers leading to the truth.”

The truth hits a lot closer to home than Ray ever imagined when the evidence begins to implicate members of his own department, including his brother-in-law, Jimmy Egan.

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell plays Jimmy, a cop who has allowed frustration and greed to chip away at the things he most valued, causing him to compromise both his career and his family, which are inextricably linked. Farrell relates, “Jimmy is a cop who married into a family of cops–his wife's father and her two brothers are all cops. But somewhere along the way, he took a step over to the wrong side of the law. Just a little bit at first, but then he took another step, and another…and before he knew it, the line he crossed was completely out of his view. In many ways, he is a contradiction: with his family, there is a softness to him and a great ability to love, but he also has a great deal of anger and fear.”

“I've always been a big fan of Colin's,” says Gavin. “I met with him and we talked at length about the story and what we were going for with the character of Jimmy. Our goal was how to convey the humanity in him and help the audience see what drove him over the line. After so many times of arresting guys and then seeing them right back on the streets, it kind of beat Jimmy up inside. When you've been bumping up against criminals for so long, you can go one way or the other. Jimmy finally came to this huge rationalization about how he could take advantage of his job in order to survive.”

“The way Jimmy has run his life outside the house starts pervading through the walls of his home and touching his family. That's when it all really hits the fan,” Farrell states. “There are absolute consequences for his actions; everyone involved has so much to lose.”

The far-reaching consequences of Jimmy's actions go all the way up to the highest ranks of the police department and to the head of his family. For Jimmy, both are embodied in the same person: his father-in-law, Francis Tierney, Sr., who is the Chief of Manhattan Detectives.

Jon Voight

Jon Voight, who plays Chief Tierney, observes, “He's a man who loves his family and is also fiercely proud of the police heritage that he has passed down to his two sons, as well as his daughter, who married a cop. But now he has to deal with the fact that his own family may be involved in something that goes against everything he has stood for all his life–the idea of having pride in this vocation that is, by definition, self-sacrificing.

“We depend on the police to protect and take care of us, to keep our streets safe for our families,” Voight adds, “and they sometimes have to wade into very dangerous territory to do this work. It's very important that they have ideals and are strong enough to hold onto those ideals under tremendous pressures.”

“Jon really felt the spirit and energy of this movie and understood what we were trying to say,” Gavin says. “It was a joy and honor to work with him, and I think he gave a beautiful performance.”

“Every one of us was excited about working with him,” Greg affirms. “Let's start with the fact that Jon is a legend. He brings a certain dignity and presence with him when he walks into the room; you believe he is the patriarch of this family. He represents a certain ethic of what it means to be a cop, and he taught that ethic to his sons.”

Noah Emmerich

Noah Emmerich plays the elder of the Tierney sons, Francis Tierney, Jr., a police inspector who is dealing with crises on two fronts. The tragic murder of four of New York's finest is exploding into a scandal that could destroy his career and his family, and, all the while, his beloved wife, Abby, is in the end stages of cancer. “This guy is such a tortured character,” says Emmerich. “His wife is dying, his career is falling apart, and he is being forced to come to terms with the choices he's made, which could lead to his own fall from grace. There is so much pain in this character, but there is also growth; he really changes over the course of the film. That's always interesting to navigate as an actor.”

“Pride and Glory” marks Emmerich's third movie with the O'Connor brothers, after “Tumbleweeds” and “Miracle.” “We kind of feel like Noah is part of our acting troupe,” Greg laughs. “He's just a great actor and, from the beginning, Gavin always had him in mind for the role of Francis Jr.”

The director offers, “In some ways, Francis Jr. is the most difficult part in the movie because he has two internal conflicts going on that he has to somehow find a way to reconcile. He has the war going on at home to cope with his wife's illness, and he has the war going on in his precinct, which is imploding. That made it a very complicated role to play, which is why I wanted Noah.”

Jennifer Ehle

Abby Tierney's illness turns out to be not only a crucible but also a catalyst for her husband. “One of the ironies about Abby is that even though she has cancer and is in the last stage of her life, in my opinion she is the strongest and most grounded character in the movie,” says Emmerich. “In fact, her strength resonates so palpably that it transforms Francis and gives him the strength to be a better man. Their relationship is so beautiful; it's a true love.”

Abby is played by award-winning stage actress Jennifer Ehle, who comments that in coming to terms with her own approaching death, “Abby reminds her husband of his own moral code and lets him know that the most loving thing he can do for her now is to be the man she married and trusts with the lives of their children.”

“Jennifer is an incredibly gifted actress,” says Gavin. “She was totally committed to the role. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her again; she's one of the greats.”

Lake Bell

Jimmy Egan's wife, Megan, at first has no idea of the depth of her husband's involvement in the police department scandal that is making headlines and driving a wedge between her brothers and her husband. But as the situation deteriorates, she can't help but become aware. Lake Bell, who plays the role of Megan, notes, “She represents for Jimmy the ultimate consequences of his actions. He prides himself on being a wonderful husband and father, but he's starting to realize that what he's done could cost him his wife and children.”

Gavin recalls, “The second Lake walked in, I knew she was Megan. She is a wonderful actress, and she embodied the character exactly as I had pictured her in my mind. I could also imagine her opposite Colin Farrell.”

The main cast ensemble of “Pride and Glory” also includes John Ortiz, Frank Grillo and Shea Whigham as, respectively, Ruben Santiago, Eddie Carbone and Kenny Dugan, three cops who, together with Jimmy Egan, have been working both sides of the law. Manny Perez plays Coco Dominguez, who, unfortunately for him, is holding information Jimmy wants and will do anything to get. Ramon Rodriguez plays Angel Tezo, a drug dealer and cop killer who is the target of a citywide manhunt, and Rick Gonzalez is Eladio Casado, a rival drug dealer, who is using the cops as much as they are using him.

“Every member of the cast brought so much to their roles,” states Gavin. “My attitude has always been that even if an actor is in only one scene, that character has as much value to the story as any of the leads. Every piece of the puzzle means so much because all those pieces accumulate to complete the story. I was so proud of all the actors in the movie because they truly poured themselves into their characters.”