The Gilt Man Q&A

Questions for… Ed Burns

The star of TNT’s “Mob City” on 1940s-era tailoring, the benefits of being married to a supermodel, and the enduring appeal of a great pair of sweats.

Ed Burns characters are typically on the right side of the law, but in Mob City you play the notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel. Was it fun to play a bad guy this time around?
I haven’t had this much fun acting since Private Ryan. Every day on set, Bugsy is either whacking somebody, screaming at somebody, beating the shit out of somebody, and just being this larger than life, coolest guy in the room. What actor doesn’t jump at the chance to be that guy?

He was also quite the dresser. Was it fun to inhabit that look?
My first day is a scene where Bugsy is out at a construction site at the Flamingo in Vegas. Everyone else is wearing sort of muted, neutral tones, and I show up in this teal, double-breasted suit, and that kind of set the tone for what Bugsy was going to be fashion-wise. Every day I showed up for work, it was flashy suits, flashy ties—it was very cool. But none of the stuff you could actually take home, because there would be no occasion you could put it on.

Well, there went my next question on how dressing as Bugsy has rubbed off on your day-to-day. Not so much, eh?
[Laughs.] Not so much. Those half-ties and giant shoulder pads don’t really cut it.

Did you hang onto any of the clothes from the show?
I took one tie as a keepsake, but everything else they held onto, in case they had to do any reshoots or anything like that.

How has your personal style evolved as you’ve gone from being a young single guy to a father of two?
I never thought I would wear sweatpants as many days of the week as I do now — my weekend revolves around taking my daughter to play tennis, and my son to play soccer. [But] my style really hasn’t changed much at all. I started to see all the cool kids wearing these black workboots and I was like, “you know what, I still have my pair of those from the early ‘90s. I’m going to break that shit out.” I find myself almost dressing the same as I did when I was a 23-year-old kid. Which is kind of sad [laughs].

That’s the era that’s coming back right now.
Yeah—jean jackets and work boots.

And sweats. They’re having a big moment. You’re more on-trend than you think. You’re married to one of the biggest models of all time. Do you ever look in the mirror and go, “Dude, I’m married to Christy Turlington, I gotta bring my A-game”?
If we have to go out at all, she has to give me the once-over. I would say 9 out of 10 nights, I’m asked to go back to the closet to make an adjustment. I’m lucky I’ve got her. She hips me up a little bit.

You recently said on twitter that you were working on a prequel to your breakout film, The Brothers McMullan. How’s it going?
I wrote a good deal of a sequel, and I started to work in some flashbacks, and I had this flashback for the Patrick character that took place when he was in eighth grade, and that kind of triggered it. I’ve never done a coming of age film—I was 25 when I wrote McMullan, and I’ve never looked at anything before then. These guys are each four years apart. If I go with Patrick in eighth grade, and Barry’s a senior in high school and Jack’s a senior in college, I can write about three major threshold moments that I experienced. And each one was so different. It’s a way to knock off three films in one. The minute I got the idea it’s been very easy to outline it and come up with the story.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished film. And in the meantime, wear those sweats with pride.
[Laughs.] I certainly will.

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