Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.
The actor: Former Mindy Project paramour-turned-Birds Of Prey baddie Chris Messina has seen his fair share of “affable boyfriend” roles. And while he has undoubtedly managed to claim more than a few hearts with his performances in Julie & Julia, Away We Go, and Celeste & Jesse Forever, the New York actor does not mind the occasional dark turn, à la Damages, The Sinner, or Live By Night. In fact, his background in stage work, where he got to play an array of figuresfami ranging from cool to unhinged, sparked a deep interest in characters that harbor a penchant for causing some trouble. The A.V. Club chatted with the co-star of the post-World War II thriller The Secrets We Keep over the phone about crafting Victor Zsasz, eating hot dogs on Law & Order, and the joys of creating new families with stellar co-stars.
The Secrets We Keep (2020)—“Lewis”
The A.V. Club: There is a singular through line with all of your projects, where you always happen to land in the middle of these stellar ensembles. With Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, and Amy Seimetz, The Secrets We Keep is no exception. What was it like getting to be part of such a stacked cast?
Chris Messina: That’s the reason I took the job. [With Rapace,] I knew that I would get to spar with a real master actress. When you get those opportunities, they always make you better. She’s incredible. Her work ethic is just fierce. She has a lot to tackle and in the movie, the stakes keep rising and it was quite intense for her, yet she did it with such focus and grace. When you’re playing tennis with somebody on that level, they just make your game better.
AVC: There’s a scene that occurs within the first 15 minutes of The Secrets We Keep where your character, Lewis, and Rapace’s Maja are flirting and laughing in bed. There’s this really easy back and forth between you both. In a lot of your work, you’re able to find this very intimate line of communication with your scene partners. What gets you to that point?
CM: I just think I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really incredible people. One of the great things about acting is you kind of become family with this group of strangers. It’s great to learn about them and reveal yourself to them, and that’s certainly something Noomi and I did. Before we met, she would send me these playlists from the time period and we’d go back and forth. So when we jumped into rehearsals, we were already kind of grooving. I think with a lot of the people I’ve worked with, I’ve had that experience where you’re in battle together and you both take an oath to give it your all, to go as deep as you can, and with the most joy that you can. It’s always a joy to get to know them and sad to say goodbye.
Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey (2020)— “Victor Zsasz”
AVC: That was such a strong departure from from the rest of your portfolio. What was it like wading into the comic book side of storytelling?
CM: That was really fun. When you do something halfway decent in Hollywood, it’s hard to find people that can expand their imagination of what you can be. So for a while, I was a nice guy because that’s how some people got to know me. Because I come from New York theater where I played a plethora of different characters and delinquents in all these new plays, I was really drawn to these characters at an early age—loners, anarchists, antiheroes, whatever you would call them. I was thrilled that someone gave me a shot at doing something else because as an actor, it’s fun to disappear into other people and try on other people’s shoes. I did so badly in school, so it’s my way of learning about the world, people, and history.
There was a world of comic books to dive into and I enjoy the different incarnations that the artists took with that character along the way, and then finding our version of him with the director, Cathy Yan. It was really a lot of fun playing off Ewan McGregor, who was just the kindest man and so smart and playful. He helped my character become a bigger part of the movie. Rather just being a henchman sidekick, we developed this strange, master-servant relationship with my character adoring him, wanting to be him, and maybe taking over one day. It was almost like a Talented Mr. Ripley Zsasz or something. I still have more anarchic in me that I’d like to present.
Live By Night (2016)—“Dion Bartolo”
CM: Ben Affleck gave me the opportunity in Live By Night to be a darker version of anything I’ve played. Unfortunately, nobody saw that film, but it was a really nice departure into a darker world. My wife [Jennifer Todd] produced that film. So we worked together on that movie, which we had only done one time before we were even together on Ira & Abby. It was a beautiful family experience and I love that time period and that genre. Most casting directors, producers, or directors would never seen me or maybe wanted me to audition for that role, so the movie is very special to me and again, I surrounded by a group of extraordinary actors—Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, the list goes on.
The Mindy Project (2012-2017)—“Danny Castellano”
AVC: When it comes to Danny Castellano, there are classic scenes that are still heavily discussed, whether he’s dancing for Mindy or running toward her in a grand gesture.
CM: A lot of running. [Laughs.]
AVC: Is there a particular scene that you wish you had gotten to talk about more?
CM: I always loved when they would write Mindy and Danny one scene that would have some jokes, but was really heartfelt. I always loved doing those with [Mindy Kaling]. I think about that show a lot, about how much I took for granted. I would wake up, drive to work, and laugh the hardest I’ve ever laughed. It was just part of my day, and I took for granted what a gift that was, especially in the times we’re living in now. I always define that as a masterclass in comedy. I was very intimidated at first, but with writing and direction like that, they made a really memorable character in Danny Castellano.
All the scenes were fun. You’d go into the writers room and tell them, “This is the kind of person I am,” or “I sometimes like to juggle.” My mom was a dance teacher and I grew up wanting to be Baryshnikov. I danced and I was really into it. And then I’d open up the script a few weeks later and I’d be like, “ Oh shit. Why did I tell them that?” But in truth, it was nice because nobody’s asked about a love of mine as a kid. There I was with a choreographer on my day off or after work, working on a number and it was nerve wracking, but at the same time, I got to go back to my roots, which was my love of dance.
Sam Smith, “I Know I’m Not The Only One” (2014)—“Husband”
CM: That was so strange. I had never heard of Sam Smith at the time when they made that video. I was probably behind, as I often am. I could be misquoting this, but I think maybe Sam saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona and liked it, so they contacted me. They sent me the song and I played it for my wife, who really liked it and was like, “You gotta do this.” Sam was there for a couple of days and was lovely. When we were filming, they were starting to blow up, and then afterwards they became gigantic. But Sam was lovely and it was beautiful song.
AVC: And you got to depart from the affable boyfriend again by playing a cheating jerk.
CM: Yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I did it. Not only was the song beautiful, but it was a chance to explore more darkness.
CM: Director Matt Ross is one of my dearest friends. We developed the movie together. I was just texting with him and [co-star] Marin Ireland, “Had I known how rare these experiences are, I would have savored every moment. And then Matt joked, “Well, maybe we should do 29 Hotel Rooms.” It was a lovely experience with a skeleton crew. I mean really, really independent. It was very much a family affair, just an incredible vibe all around.
When you do plays, you paint the sets, maybe you do sound or handle your own props. Everyone’s making it together. That’s the real fun of independent film and 28 Hotel Rooms was the epitome of that. It was a labor of love. Nobody would become rich off of it. It was just a way to express ourselves.
AVC: 28 Hotel Rooms is such a potent example of intimate storytelling. These characters, who don’t even have names, are really the only ones you see and there’s not a ton of background music. There’s really nothing to distract you from this central story of two romantically tortured people.
CM: We were in love with Scenes From A Marriage and we were trying to get as raw as possible, to the guts of what a relationship is. Blue Valentine with Michelle Williams does this really well. Harold Pinter’s Betrayal deals with that long-standing affair and timing, meeting somebody at the right time, the one that got away, all those kinds of things. This was also very important to us.
I think at the end of the day, you’re looking for your people. And when you find them, you feel seen and heard. In a more commercial film, when you’re not a big star, you only have so much say, or there’s money and time to consider. That’s totally understandable, because this is the way it is. But to have a piece of clay, which was the movie that Matt had no ego about, and say, “We have the time and space, let’s try something entirely different today,” it was kind of orgasmic, to be honest. It’s hard to find your people.
AVC: Do you feel like Man and Woman left their partners for each other in the end?
CM: I think at the time I thought that they didn’t, probably because I thought that was sadder. They should have been together, but they never will be because they didn’t have the bravery to face that they’re in the wrong relationships, you know? I dunno, what did you think?
AVC: I oscillate, but I think what I recently landed on was that if they really felt empowered enough to leave their partners, they probably would have done it 26 hotel rooms ago.
CM: [Laughs.] Exactly, we’re very similar there. And I felt like even if they did get together, they were in such turmoil and the relationship was so damaged that they wouldn’t make it.
Humboldt County (2008)— “Max”
Ira & Abby (2006)— “Ira Black”
Six Feet Under (2005)— “Ted Fairwell”
AVC: There was a stretch of time where you were working with Frances Conroy a lot. Did you have a favorite instance of your time together?
CM: She’s unbelievable. I haven’t seen her in person in quite some time, but she had an elegance, simplicity, and joy in the way that she worked. She was always very inviting. When I was in Six Feet Under, I was coming on at the end of the sixth season. These people—not just Frances, but Lauren Ambrose, Michael C. Hall, Peter Krause, Richard Jenkins, all of them—were all so welcoming. I haven’t thought about this, but to have her in Ira & Abby, which was right after Six Feet Under, and then Humboldt, it’s pretty extraordinary to get that kind of a flow with somebody. You start to feel just more comfortable around them. I also think that dynamic is nice as a troupe. They’re a family at that point. They probably get on each other’s nerves and love each other, like a family. They know, “Oh, Chris is doing bullshit again. I love him, but I gotta tell Chris to stop doing is bullshit.” I read something by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg where they would just say, “I think of you this way, you’re acting this way,” and they would go back and forth at each other to get to the truth, and only family can do that. I felt that way with Francis. I felt comfortable around her, like I stopped pretending.
AVC: Were you ever on the receiving end of one of those truth-telling moments in your career?
CM: When someone said “Stop doing your bullshit?” Every day somebody is telling me to stop doing my bullshit. Most of the time it’s me looking in the mirror saying, “Stop your bullshit, man.”
Law & Order (1995-2003)—“Don Cushman / Kevin Turner / Tommy Bell”
AVC: You’re part of this cool fraternity of people who have stopped by Law & Order multiple times.
CM: I think the first time I did Law & Order, I died. “Help” was my line, but I didn’t get it out. I died before I even said it. I did another episode where I was eating a hot dog at a hot dog stand. I remember telling my girlfriend at the time, “Yeah, it was a great day. I got the hot dog, cameras were rolling and nobody told me to eat the hot dog, but I ate a bunch of hot dogs!” I was very proud of myself. Law & Order is like a rite of passage for New York actors.
Rounders (1998)— “Higgins”
AVC: How did you land your first credited gig?
CM: That was just a random audition. It was really fun because I was enamored by Edward Norton and Matt Damon, who had just won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting. Edward Norton had just done Primal Fear, so they were young actors that you wanted to be. I remember having a couple more lines and the director giving me my lines away—either because I was fucking it up or because of the camera angle—and wondering what did I’d done wrong. Now, seeing how this business works, it’s very easy to see why he would have done that.
Before And After with Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson was really my first movie. I had a scene with Meryl Streep and she was lovely. It was one of the greatest days of my young career. And then I went to the movie with my girlfriend at the time, we watched it, and I never showed up. So you learn that that happens all the time and it’s nothing personal. When you’re a young actor, you take all that shit to heart. I carried that around for months. But when you work consistently, you start to learn that everybody’s been cut.
What Makes a Good Online Casino?
A quick search for an online casino will reveal hundreds of results. However, these casinos are not created equally. Some are better than others in many ways. That’s why you cannot settle for the first option that catches your eye. You need to do thorough research to ensure you settle for a casino that will give you a better experience – and some good money in the process.
So, what makes a good online casino?
The truth is that there are many reputable casinos online – and new ones keep popping up with each passing day. But the few bad ones spoil the name for the others. These casinos scam people. They are eager to make deposits but not keen to give players their money back, pay their affiliates, or even stick to their terms and conditions. These casinos – scam or rogue casinos – are exactly the types you want to avoid.
Unfortunately, most of these rogue casinos disguise as good ones. You might have a hard time telling them apart, especially if you are just getting started. To help you make an informed decision, here are some qualities that make a good online casino.
It does not feature in the blacklist
One of the easiest ways to tell a good casino from the bad ones is by looking at different online casino blacklists. Different reputable platforms always release yearly blacklists to protect casino players from gambling scams online. They put bad casinos on a list for everyone to see and ensure no one signs up to any of those casinos in the future. Since these sites differ, chances are you won’t find the same casinos on every blacklist. But the fact that a casino makes the list means they have one or more of these problems:
- Change terms
- Predatory terms
- Slow pay
- Unfair games
- Marketing spam
- Licensing and regulation
Choice of games
As a player, you’ll appreciate the choice of picking whichever game pleases you. That’s why you need a casino that offers more games. Browse around to find the casino games that the provider offers to see if it’s a good fit.
It’s fair, secure, and serious
As you may have noticed from above, many casinos end up on the blacklist for many reasons, including unfairness and security issues. Good online casinos use random number generator that determines the chances of winning. On top of that, they work with third parties to check the fairness of games. What’s more, these casinos display various certificates on their platforms, giving you further assurance that things are conducted fairly.
Has good customer service
You can tell a good casino by how their customer support team treats you when you send a request or inquire about something. They will be willing and happy to serve you. they will also have adequate knowledge to address your concerns and be available 24/7.
Accept your payment methods
A good casino accepts a wide range of payment options, ranging from online payment options to instant bank transfers and even credit card solutions. This allows you to use your preferred payment method and not feel locked out. Stay away from sites that provide limited payment options. Some of them fail to get approved by payment platforms, which by itself is a red flag.
Has a bonus offer
It’s easy to assume bonus offers and other incentives, especially if you are new to the game. However, you should work with a casino that provides a consistent bonus offer and not just a good welcome offer. You’ll need these bonuses even as an existing client. Moreover, the site should provide promotions without deposit, reload offers, and many free spins. Don’t feel limited. Many casino sites offer these bonuses, and if the one in question doesn’t, you might as well keep looking.
Free games and easy registration
As a newbie, the last thing you want is to sign up with a casino that doesn’t provide free games. You need to practice without having to deposit money or fear that you’ll lose money. Free games allow you to practice and be good before playing real money. Additionally, the casino should have a simple registration and easy account opening process. If it’s too complicated, then maybe it’s not the right casino for you.
How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital
These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.
A historical journey
It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.
It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.
Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.
In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.
The birth of the mega resort
It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.
Las Vegas in the 21st century
The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?
The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.
These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.
What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.
Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.
Some Big Casinos Near Nature
Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.
ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.
Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.
- Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
- Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
- Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford
River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit
Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.
Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun
Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.
Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One
Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.
Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture
Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.
River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers
River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.
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