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Never Mr. Nice Guy

An interview with Boardwalk Empire's Dabney Coleman.

Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman as Commodore Louis Kaestner in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" — Abbot Genser/HBO

Q: Are you musically inclined at all?

A: Not really, but I think it’s something genetic — it’s in there somewhere. I have good pipes and a good ear, and I think that’s where they got it.

Q: Did you see the show business spark in them early on?

A: One of them was writing and singing songs at age 5, and has tremendous pipes. The others came on late, in their 20s, and just developed incredible talent. They were incredible in terms of how they progressed in a short period of time. In two years, they went from being amateurish to being highly professional, exciting performers, which is rather unusual. Before their 20s, I had no idea what they were interested in. I certainly didn’t think it was music.

Q: You had most of your kids a bit later than average. How did that affect what kind of parent you were?

A: Tennis was a great interest of mine until 10 years ago, when I lost my sight in my left eye. I played tournaments and got ranked in the nation as a junior. I played seven days a week, and tennis was a huge thing to me to the point that it took me away from my family a little bit — even during the evening meal, which is very, very important. If I had it to do all over again, I would somehow make an adjustment there. But I’m not real sure if that had anything to do with how old I was. I think tennis had a major effect on what kind of parent I was.

 

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