Chris Messina: You can’t not like this guy

From left to right, Tom O’Brien, Chris Messina and Rich Sommer shoot a scene on the set of “Fairhaven.”

Chris Messina has been branded as a decent, stand-up guy.

He doesn’t like this at all.

“After ‘Julie and Julia,’  [casting directors] wanted me to be nice,” he says. “They wanted me to tell my girlfriend or wife that their cooking was great and that everything would be all right. That was a great movie experience and I am certainly grateful for it, but I don’t want to play that guy for the rest of my career.”

Too bad for Messina that he is a nice guy in real life. He just can’t help it. Not many people we’ve interviewed have shown an interest in where we’re from and what kind of beat we cover, after all. But the 38-year-old is still aces at playing a slimeball, which he perfects with his damaged character in “Fairhaven.” The film, which he co-wrote with co-star, director and old friend, Tom O’Brien, premieres at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival on Friday night.

In the film, he’s an old, estranged friend to Jon (O’Brien), a lost soul trying to find the meaning of his life. Messina’s character, Dave, is more into the cocaine-and-hookers kind of thing, but underneath lies a wounded man.

For Messina, the real joy of the project was working with his close friend, with whom he’d been knocking around this film idea ever since they first met in the mid-90s at the All Seasons Theater Company here in New York.

“With any movie that you do, you just take a leap of faith if you don’t know the filmmaker,” Messina says. “The great thing about working with people whom you have a long history with is that with Tom, he knows all my problems. He knows how to diffuse them or use them. He knows what will get me excited and what will get me angry. We’ve already skipped all these steps. We have a common goal and we’re OK with pushing each other.”

On bringing ‘Fairhaven’ to Tribeca:

“I love Tribeca. I’m from Long Island. I remember when the Tribeca Film Festival started, going down to see movies. And you know, [there is] my love of Robert De Niro, of course, not only as an actor but for what he’s done for Tribeca and New York. To be a part of it is really cool. It’s a great festival.”


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