23 July 2013 4:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Us film and TV actor who infused grittier roles with his experience of almost two decades as a Chicago policeman

The Italian-American character actor Dennis Farina, who has died aged 69 after suffering from a blood clot in his lung, evoked effortlessly the grittiness of a life beyond cinema's gloss and glamour. No wonder: acting was his second career, and he came to it after an 18-year stint in the police department of his beloved home city, Chicago.

Cinemagoers came to prize Farina's no-nonsense toughness, which could be played equally effectively for laughs or menace – and sometimes both at the same time, as in the case of his frightening and comically foul-mouthed turn as Robert De Niro's bete noire in the 1988 comedy thriller Midnight Run. When he promised to stab an inept underling through the heart with a pencil, the audience could be in no doubt that he was up to that task, »

- Ryan Gilbey

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