Robert Davi

Friday, 22 February 2008 09:09

A profile of Profiler's Bailey Malone ...


Make no mistake about it. Robert Davi is Bailey Malone. If an actor could write a character to suit himself, Robert would have sketched out the male lead in Profiler. The actor and the character share common interests, and if anything that makes the fiction all the more compelling.

Profiler has previously screened this side of the Atlantic and what was once called NBC Europe - the first two seasons of the show, that is. The series continues Stateside, lumbering through a fourth season, still with Mr Davi aboard, but star Ally Walker decided to jump ship at the end of Season Three.

Robert has been an actor all his life. "In the 8th Grade I found I had a voice for opera, so I followed that path a little, but my impulse has always been an actor", he notes, correcting press releases that have placed his career development the opposite way round. "I have always liked cinema, and let's face it, opera singers are just bad actors! I didn't want to translate myself in that direction. My heroes were people like Spencer Tracey, Bogart, Mitchum, Marvin, Richardson, Caine, all those sort".

One hero he played opposite was Frank Sinatra, in his big break, the lead role in the 1978 film Contract on Cherry Street. "To an Italian American kid, I was working with a legend. I'd seen his movies, and his interpretive ability with a song is unrivalled. He appealed to all my interests".

Robert began finding himself playing villains more often than good guys throughout the 1980s. He never felt typecast, though. "If you look at the careers of people like Anthony Quinn, Cagney, even Tommy Lee Jones, they all were cast as villains. There comes a certain point in your life, in your late 30s, early 40s, when suddenly that can change. Maybe a director sees a glimpse of something else within you along the way. I played comedy in The Goonies, which showed something else was going on. Even when I played the Bond villain in Licence to Kill, there were some people who were rooting for that character ahead of the traditional hero. Now, in Profiler, I get to play Bailey Malone, and I get to show another essence of myself. Stage performances show off multi-varied aspects of an actor, film has always been something else entirely. You always have a prejudice as to what you can and can't do, but your soul is able to come out more".

And now Davi finds himself a leading man on network television. "Who'd have thought that? I have a certain look, and while certain characters were for me, others would get the parts as they had the look rather than the soul. I was always cast older than I was in reality, having a certain look, and I grew into that look".

Getting back on the trail of information about his appearance with James Bond, I asked if there had been any pressure on the set, given that Licence to Kill was Timothy Dalton's second 007 film, and there may have been a need to better their first effort with him in the lead role. "It was a relaxed set. The Living Daylights had been successful, and it had even taken Sean Connery until Goldfinger, his third film I think, to really get there with it. What Cubby and Barbara Broccoli tried to do was make Bond more acceptable in today's society. They changed his attitude to women, and I think that was a mistake. The enjoyment of Bond is seeing him in Monte Carlo, with a Ferrari and five babes. Timothy didn't want that kind of image, and that was the mis-step. Tim got reality, not enjoyment. After all, no-one's ever played the role as well as Sean Connery - the presence, the ease, and he made it the greatest screen character of all time. Sean epitomises the essence of what everyone else aspires to be".

I turn the focus onto Profiler. Was it Robert's idea to have Bailey a cigar smoker? "That was part of the deal", he says smiling, and then lights up a Cuban cigar called Punch Punch. "I was featured in an eight page spread in a cigar officiando magazine recently. Cigars have become trendy in America, even women are smoking them". Bailey Malone is also an opera fan. "Again, my idea. I hope to soon have him taking an interest in motor cycles". No prizes for guessing this is another of Davi's hobbies.

So, who's his favourite leading lady? Robert immediately cites Ally Walker, who played female lead Sam Waters in Profiler seasons 1-3, those episodes which have been snapped up by Satellite Channel Living. "Ally is bright and funny. As for other actresses, Joan Severence was okay, Talisa Soto in the Bond film was good. There's so many ladies I'd like to work with, but I guess Catherine Deneuve would be a favourite".

Did he have any reservations about moving from film leads to a lead in a TV show? Did he see it as a retrograde step? "I had no anxiety about it at all. I'm not the kind of actor to worry. Certain actors can't translate to the big screen, so I'm glad I can do both. If 60% of an audience know your name, a lot more will know your face. I have a name which has a certain level of recognition now, which also means producers and directors know me, and are able to recognise the range of things that I can do. I like Bailey Malone, he's a positive character, and playing him each week will help add to the range that I am perceived to be able to cover. Look at George Clooney - he's moved from ER to the big screen". Certainly, Clooney's small screen success has led to him playing Batman as well as an overall extremely bankable commodity.

I ask about the striking similarities between Profiler and Millennium. Both feature characters with similar skills, and the investigation of similar cases. "You have ER and Chicago Hope, they're both hospital dramas. You have cop shows, medical shows, so why not two profiler shows. The difference between the two is that Millennium is a one note show. Profiler is more of an orchestra, an ensemble. People interact with each other, making it more human. Yes, Profiler can scare you, but it can also move you to emotion".

Does he think that Profiler is something that children should be allowed to watch? "It's definitely not for under 10s. As for over 10s, that's questionable. It depends on the child and the parent. We deal with human issues, and there is a moral sensibility in the shows. It gives hope in today's society, where we have rampant violence all around. Role models are being torn down. Malone and Waters, our central characters, have moral fibre. JFK said 'power corrupts, poetry cleanses,' and I hope that we show that the power of the FBI and the poetry of humanity leads to the exchange of lessons".

As for the future of the Bailey Malone character, Bailey has firm ideas. "I'd like to see him develop his own profiling powers. After all, Sam was his protegee, and it would be good to see him making use of that knowledge. He's got a military background, and already has a researching ability. I'd also like to see him gain a personal life. We have many interesting character arcs developing for Bailey over the seasons, as things really start to open up. We even have James Coburn guesting in a two-parter, and that's worth watching out for".




Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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