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Actor Brian Dennehy's 'Ultimate Legacy'

Brian Dennehy, The Ultimate Legacy
Movie Info
 

DVD RELEASE:

January 3, 2017

STARRING:

Myko Olivier, Logan Bartholomew, Brian Dennehy, Raquel Welch, Ali Hillis, Doug Jones, Lee Meriwether

More on this movie at IMDb.com

Hannah Goodwyn - Senior Producer

Brian Dennehy was born to be an actor. He lives for the stage and is most known for his role as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman (for which he won his first of two Tony Awards). He's also shared the big screen with Hollywood heavyweights such as Sylvester Stallone and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Though he's been in the entertainment business for going on 40 years, the Connecticut-born legend didn't start his acting career until he was 39. His life took a detour pre-Hollywood. He worked as a stockbroker (at the same firm as Martha Stewart) and served as a US Marine.

When the showbiz doors opened, Dennehy walked through. With decades of memorable characters under his belt, his trademark has become "playing men of power who, in addition to being corrupt, are just plain mean" (IMDb.com).

But, ask Dennehy what he's stopped on the street for and the answer might surprise you. The celebrated stage and screen actor is recognized mostly by fans of his work in The Ultimate Gift, a little, family-friendly film he did with the late James Garner back in 2006.

It was the beginning of a three-film franchise, with the third just released on DVD. The Ultimate Legacy mirrors the original film. It tells the story of Joey Anderson (Myko Olivier), an egocentric young man who has to fulfill a series of tasks in order to get the inheritance left by his late grandmother (Raquel Welch).

"Interestingly enough of all of the movies I've done, back in the day and now, this one seems to have created more of a public response. People come up to me all of the time about this picture," Dennehy says. "People would come up and say...how moved and affected they were by how much they enjoyed it."

For Dennehy, the message of the "Ultimate" stories is what pulls audiences in. And a big takeaway of The Ultimate Legacy is summed up in the line of dialogue, "forgiveness is the ultimate freedom."

"We all make mistakes and some of them are big. You have to get past them and you have to forgive yourself and you hope that whoever may have been on the other end of it forgives you," Dennehy says.

"Try to love people, try to understand them and help them when you can," he adds. "Life is short and you have an opportunity to do the right thing in your lives every day, and it's easier to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing as far as I'm concerned."

All of this life and legacy talk got Dennehy to thinking of his own. When asked about what he wants his professional and personal legacy to be, he thought of his family.

"I've been very fortunate with my kids," Dennehy says. "Two of my kids tried to make it in this business and did not, accepted that and went on. One became a writer and another became a very successful mother and wife. You know, you'd like to think you've helped to create their lives, which seem to be very satisfying. They're now dealing with their kids, who are very successful and in college, moving on. So far we haven't gotten any drug arrests or unwanted pregnancies. It's all been a very—kind of the way you want it to be."

"And I don't take any credit for that. I mean, I've always worked hard taking care of my responsibilities and tried to love the people I was supposed to love and show my charity to them and to others, but I wouldn't call myself an extraordinary Christian by any means," he says. "But, the point is that you try to live your life in a decent way, and you try to pass it on. That's what you do; you try to pass it on. If you pass it on and become reasonably successful, you'll know it, and they'll know it. And hopefully they'll do it the same to their kids and their grandchildren."

Dennehy turns 80 this July, but he's not thinking of retirement. In fact, 2017 is already full of excitement as he readies to tread the boards once more.

"I'm looking forward to wrestling with Samuel Beckett's powerful and impossible play Endgame for at least a few months," he says. "I do a lot of theater, and this is probably the most difficult play I've ever done, a really, really interesting philosophical play that he wrote towards the end of his life."

"I've done a lot of movies and a lot of television, a lot of junk films, but this is high, demanding, impossible, frustrating art. So it's fun, challenging, and I don't know whether it's going to work or not, which is why of course you do it, because you're not guaranteed anything, all you're guaranteed is a lot of hard work, and perhaps some people standing up saying, 'Wow, I think I learned something through it.'"

"So that's my immediate future," Dennehy says. "I don't have too much of a long-range future left, so I don't worry about that anymore. I just think about what's coming in the next few months."

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