Denis Colin Leary (born August 18, 1957) is a Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated American actor, comedian, writer and director. He is known for his often angry comedic style, and his frequent chain smoking. Leary displays an overt affinity for libertarianism. Leary is currently the star and co-creator of the television show Rescue Me.
Leary first became famous through an MTV sketch in which he ranted about R.E.M. Several other commercials for MTV followed, in which Leary would rant at high speeds about a variety of topics. He has released two records of his stand-up comedy: No Cure for Cancer (1993) and Lock 'n Load (1997). In late 2004 he released the EP Merry F#%$in' Christmas, which included a mix of new music, previously unreleased recordings, and some tracks from Lock 'n Load.
In 1993, his sardonic song about the stereotypical American male, "Asshole", achieved much notoriety. It was voted #1 in a major Australian youth radio poll (the Triple J Hottest 100) as well as reaching #2 in the singles chart in that country. The video also became a staple of MTV's late-night programming. Due to its explicit and controversial content, however, it received limited airplay on mainstream American radio stations. At the 2004 Comics Come Home in Boston, Massachusetts, Denis performed a new version of the song directed at the New York Yankees, and as the song concluded, Bronson Arroyo walked on stage with the World Series trophy. The song was also used as part of the Holsten Pils series of ads in the UK which Leary was participating in, with adapted lyrics criticizing a drunk driver.
Although he says he is most at home on stage doing stand-up, Leary has appeared as an actor in over 40 movies, including The Sandlot, Monument Ave., The Matchmaker, The Ref, Suicide Kings, Dawg, Wag the Dog, Demolition Man, The Thomas Crown Affair and Operation Dumbo Drop. He has had the lead role in two television series, The Job and Rescue Me. In addition, Leary has provided voices for characters in animated films such as a medium fire-breathing dragon, Flame from the The Agents series, a saber-toothed tiger named 'Diego' in Ice Age and its sequel Ice Age 2 and 'Francis' in A Bug's Life. He has produced (and still produces) numerous movies, television shows, and specials through his production company Apostle; these include Comedy Central's Shorties Watchin' Shorties, the stand-up special Denis Leary's Merry F#$%in' Christmas, and the movie Blow. As a Boston Red Sox fan, he narrated the official 2004 World Series film. In 2006, Leary and Lenny Clarke appeared on television during a Red Sox telecast and, upon realizing that Red Sox 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis is Jewish, delivered a criticism of Mel Gibson's anti-semitic comments. As a hockey fan, Leary also hosted the National Hockey League video NHL's Greatest Goals.
In 2003, Comedy Central honored Denis Leary in the Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary. Friend Jeff Garlin acted as roastmaster. Roasters included Mario Cantone, Adam Ferrara, Jim Breuer, Nick DiPaolo, Don Gavin, Christopher Walken, Lenny Clarke, Gina Gershon, Conan O'Brien, Gilbert Gottfried, Colin Quinn and Michael J. Fox.
Leary is now the star and co-creator of FX's Rescue Me. He plays Tommy Gavin, a New York City firefighter dealing with alcoholism, family dysfunction, and other issues in post-9/11 New York City. Leary received Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2007 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance. For this TV series, he turned down roles in two films: The Departed (Mark Wahlberg got the role after Leary turned down the role) and Bobby, which his close friend Emilio Estevez directed.
Leary recently did the TV voiceover for MLB 2K8 ads, where he used his trademark rant style in baseball terms. He was also a producer of the FOX show Canterbury's Law and wrote and directed its pilot episode. Canterbury's Law aired in the spring of 2008 but was canceled after eight episodes. He is currently working in the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs movie, which will be released July 1, 2009.
On September 9th, 2008, Leary was the host of the sixth annual Fashion Rocks event, which aired on CBS. During one part of the show, Leary came onstage dressed in a long gold halter dress and wearing diamond earrings and a bracelet; he carried a purse and a pair of high heels. In another segment, he let out a controversial rant about Britney Spears, the birth of Ricky Martin's twins and David Duchovny going to rehab for sex addiction.
Leary is an ice hockey fan and has his own backyard hockey rink with piping installed under the ice surface to help the ice stay frozen. His favorite National Hockey League team is the Boston Bruins. He is also a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, as well as a fan of the Green Bay Packers.
A separate fund run by Leary's foundation, the Fund for New York's Bravest, has distributed over $2 million (USD) to the families of the 343 firemen killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks in addition to providing funding for necessities such as a new mobile command center, first responder training, and a high-rise simulator for the FDNY's training campus. This new fund was established because the families of the Worcester fire did not want to include New York families into the fund. As a result, Leary created a separate fund for New York.
As the foundation's president, Leary has been active in all of the fundraising, usually presenting large checks and donated equipment personally. The close relationship he has developed with the FDNY as well as with individual firefighters across the New York/New England area has resulted in Leary's most recent television show, Rescue Me, a Comedy-drama on FX. In the pilot episode of the show, he is seen wearing a Leary Firefighter Foundation 9-11 Memorial T-shirt.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Leary donated over a dozen boats to the New Orleans fire department to aid in rescue efforts in future disasters. The foundation also rebuilt entire NOLA firehouses.
As a result of this, it is claimed that after Bill Hicks' death from pancreatic cancer, an industry joke began to circulate about Leary's transformation and subsequent success (roughly; "Question: Why is Denis Leary a star while Bill Hicks is unknown? Answer: Because there's No Cure for Cancer.")
During a 2003 roast of Denis Leary, comedian Lenny Clarke, a friend of Leary's, said there was a carton of cigarettes backstage from Bill Hicks with the message, "Wish I had gotten these to you sooner." This joke was cut from the final broadcast.
The controversy surrounding plagiarism is also mentioned in American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story, by Cynthia True:
Reportedly, upon hearing a tape of Leary's album No Cure for Cancer, "Bill was furious. All these years, aside from the occasional jibe, he had pretty much shrugged off Leary's lifting. Comedians borrowed, stole stuff and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different. Leary had, practically line for line, taken huge chunks of Bill's act and recorded it."
In the August 2006 Playboy, an interviewer told Leary, "Much has been written about you and comedian Bill Hicks.... People have accused you of appropriating his persona and material." Leary replied:
That's a great story that people like to latch onto.... Very quickly we got New York club owners saying, 'You guys are too alike' while I was saying, 'What are they fucking talking about?' It's the same approach to the subject maybe, but it's not the same act.... But as I've said many times, a fable is sometimes better than the truth.
On Sept 9, 2008, Louis CK appeared on Opie and Anthony and related a story from when he was much younger alleging Leary had plagiarized a bit from him. At the time, CK's closing bit was one about how great it would be to "just be an asshole." During a show when both CK and Leary performed, CK says Leary continued the bit, with due credit. However, after that, he said he saw Leary perform his entire bit without credit, and it has been suggested that this bit evolved into the song Asshole. Despite this, CK, who has been cited as the victim of plagiarism on other occasions as well, said he prefers to just write new material and move on rather than harbor a grudge.
|2008||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie||Recount (2008)|
|2007||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Rescue Me|
|2007||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Series, Drama||Rescue Me|
|2007||Nominated||Prism Awards||Performance in a Drama Series, Multi-Episode Storyline||Rescue Me|
|2006||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Rescue Me|
|2006||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best Television Series, Drama||Rescue Me|
|2006||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Series, Drama||Rescue Me|
|2006||Nominated||Prism Awards||Performance in a Drama Series, Multi-Episode Storyline||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Golden Globe Awards||Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Series, Drama||Rescue Me|
|2005||Won||Satellite Awards||Best Ensemble - Television||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best Television Series, Drama||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Drama||Rescue Me|
|2005||Nominated||Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding New Program of the Year||Rescue Me|
|2003||Nominated||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie||Ice Age|
|2003||Nominated||DVD Exclusive Awards||Best Actor||Double Whammy (2001)|
|2002||Nominated||Television Critics Association Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||The Job|
|2002||Nominated||Television Critics Association Awards||Best New Show||The Job|
|2000||Won||Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Supporting Actor - Drama/Romance||The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)|
|1996||Won||CableACE Awards||Best Directing: Comedy||National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins (1995)|
|1992||Won||Edinburgh International Arts Festival||Critic's Award||No Cure for Cancer (1992)|
|1992||Won||BBC Festival||Recommendation Award||No Cure for Cancer (1992)|
|1987||Long Walk to Forever||Newt||short film|
|Who's the Man?||Sergeant Cooper|
|Demolition Man||Edgar Friendly|
|National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1||Mike McCracken||cameo, performing You Really Got Me|
|Natural Born Killers||Prison Inmate||director's cut, cameo|
|1995||National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins||Jake||TV-movie, also directed segment "Lust"|
|Operation Dumbo Drop||Lt. David Poole|
|The Neon Bible||Frank|
|1996||Underworld||Johnny Crown/Johnny Alt|
|Two If by Sea||Francis "Frank" O'Brien||also writer|
|1997||The Second Civil War||Vinnie Franko||TV-movie|
|Love Walked In||Jack Hanaway||also producer|
|Subway Stories||Guy in wheel chair||TV movie, segment "The Red Shoes"|
|Wag the Dog||Fad King|
|Suicide Kings||Lono Veccio|
|The Real Blonde||Doug|
|1998||Monument Ave.||Bobby O'Grady||a.k.a Snitch, also uncredited writer|
|Wide Awake||Mr. Beal|
|Small Soldiers||Gil Mars|
|A Bug's Life||Francis||voice|
|1999||True Crime||Bob Findley|
|Do Not Disturb||Simon|
|The Thomas Crown Affair||Det. Michael McCann|
|Company Man||Officer Fry|
|2001||Double Whammy||Det. Raymond Pluto||also uncredited producer|
|Final||Bill||performing Little Sister|
|2002||Dawg||Douglas "Dawg" Munford||a.k.a Bad Boy|
|The Secret Lives of Dentists||Slater|
|2003||When Stand Up Stood Out||Himself||documentary|
|The Curse of the Bambino||Himself||documentary|
|Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino||Himself||documentary (sequel)|
|2006||Ice Age: The Meltdown||Diego||voice|
|2009||Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs||Diego||voice|
|1993||The Sandlot||US$32.1 million|
|Demolition Man||US$134.0 million|
|Judgment Night||US$12.1 million|
|Natural Born Killers||US$11.1 million|
|1995||The Neon Bible||US$780,072|
|1997||The MatchMaker||US$3.3 million|
|Small Soldiers||US$71.7 million|
|A Bug's Life||US$162.7 million|
|1999||The Thomas Crown Affair||US$69.3 million|
|2006||Ice Age: The Meltdown||US$195.3 million|
|1987||Remote Control||Various roles||All episodes|
|1992||Tonight with Jonathan Ross||2 episode|
|1998||The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder||Himself||Episode dated 24 April 1998|
|1998||Fantasy World Cup||Himself||Episode #1.15|
|1998||Space Ghost Coast to Coast||Himself||Episode: Waiting For Edward|
|2001-2002||The Rosie O'Donnell Show||Himself||Guest at two episodes|
|2001-2002||The Job||Mike McNeil|| Also writer and producer|
|2002||Contest Searchlight||Fictionalized version of himself||All episodes|
|2002||Crank Yankers||Joe Smith (voice)||Episode: 1.2|
|2004||Rescue Me: FDNY||Tommy Gavin|| nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy|
also creator,producer and writer
|2005||The Charlie Rose Show||Himself||one episode|
|Last Call with Carson Daly||Himself||two episodes (2004-2005)|
|The Tony Danza Show||Himself||episode dated 13 July 2005|
|The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch||Himself||one episode|
|2006||Rachael Ray||Himself||1 episode|
|Late Show with David Letterman||Himself||5 episode (2003, -4, -5, -6, -7)|
|Late Night with Conan O'Brien||Himself||6 episode (1997-2007)|
|The Daily Show||Himself||5 episode (2002, -3, -6, -7, -8)|
|Live with Regis and Kathie Lee||Himself||2 episode|
|The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||Himself||6 episode (1997-2007)|
|2007||Jimmy Kimmel Live!||Himself||episode dated 12 September 2007|
|The Ellen DeGeneres Show||Himself||Episode dated 2 October 2007|
|The View||Himself||4 episodes (2005-2007)|
|2008||The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson||Himself||3 episodes (two of them in last seasons)|
|The Simpsons||Himself||1 episode|
|Family Guy||Himself||1 episode|