The star of ''Rescue Me'' talks about smoking, Irish stereotypes, and ''Operation Dumbo Drop''

By Dan Snierson
Updated June 17, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • TV Show
  • FX

He’s a rabid Red Sox fan. A nicotine-addicted third cousin of Conan O’Brien. And when they measure his blood pressure, they round it off to the nearest thousand. Indeed, no one has refined the art of rapid rage quite like Denis Leary, the foulmouthed comedian who stars as foul-mouthed firefighter Tommy Gavin on the FX drama Rescue Me, which begins its second season on June 21. After strapping on our protective gear, we decided to get stupid with the man who suffers no fools gladly.

What would happen if I took away your cigarettes?

I’d have to kill you. And that means I’d have to chop you up, and it’d be a whole five-hour ordeal that would really, really piss me off. I don’t have that kind of time.

Is it a coincidence that anagrams of your name spell ”sneer daily” and ”nearly dies”?

Nope. I do it on purpose to scare people. People who do anagrams.

How many times have you fallen victim to the old greased-fire-pole trick on the Rescue Me set?

Somebody dropping an entire story at an unexpectedly high speed — always funny. I’m usually the guy that plays the pranks. Because I’m a producer and a writer as well as the star, everybody’s afraid I’m gonna have them die in a fire. That’s the joke on the set: If you’re a person I end up not liking, you’re gonna die in a horrible fire. And if you’re nice after I kill you, you can come back as a ghost.

Congrats on that Red Sox championship. Just curious: When the ball rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, did the FCC come over to your house and fine you for coarse language?

Oh, God, I went on for six months. Six months. . . [Rants about the specifics of the game for a while] It may have been the point at which I invented my favorite curse word, which is m——————–er. It’s all one word.

On the career tragedy scale, do you consider your participation in Operation Dumbo Drop to be more of a four- or five-alarm fire?

I consider it to be a massive piece of property in Connecticut, which is what I used the money from it to buy. The movie was so painstakingly terrible — because it took a long time to shoot — that all of us actually had pictures of the things that we were gonna buy with our money to keep us going. I had a picture of this property in Connecticut. Ray Liotta had a picture of a house that he was building outside L.A., and Danny Glover had a picture of a property in San Francisco he was gonna buy. That’s how we would get through it.

Let’s address a stereotype: Is it true that all Irish people whistle while lathering up with Irish Spring soap in an outdoor shower before stuffing their mouths with Lucky Charms?

Every single one of them. The only difference is, some people don’t stuff their mouths with the Lucky Charms. Some people like to delicately spoon the Lucky Charms in. That would be most of the women — and Conan.

Episode Recaps

Rescue Me

  • TV Show
  • In Season
  • FX