ABOVE: Hoboken’s Gianni McLaughlin (right) goes to war with the Shelbys alongside Adrian Brody (center) in Season Four of Peaky Blinders—available on Netflix December 21 (BBC photo)
It’s not much of a reach to see someone from New Jersey in a show about gangsters. But when that show is set in post-World War I Birmingham, England, it does beg a few questions.
“I’ve been acting every single day of my life,” says Hoboken native Gianni McLaughlin. “As a kid I would dress up in different costumes at dinner every night. I was always prepared to put on a performance for my parents or their friends.”
In 2016, McLaughlin decided he wanted to take it a bit more seriously. “I began taking acting classes at the Stella Adler Studio and Playhouse West in New York City,” he said.
That still doesn’t explain how a born-and-raised Hoboken kid who grew up around the corner from Sinatra’s birthplace ends up fighting the Shelby Gang in Roaring 20’s Britain.
The BBC’s Peaky Blinders has become a cult classic on Netflix here in the States. To the uninitiated, it might be best described as Downton Abbey meets Boardwalk Empire. Dedicated fans, however, will tell you that the show’s pulse-quickening storylines and brutally graphic cinematography make December 21st an early Christmas, as Season Four will finally be available for US viewers.
In the spirit of “no spoilers,” we’ll only say that McLaughlin’s role becomes pretty easy to envision once the pieces come into place.
“A friend of mine was a part of the production of the fourth season of Peaky Blinders. They were looking for actors to play early 1900’s New York City Italian/American gangsters. He called me and told me to audition for the part,” says McLaughlin. “It just so happened I was the perfect person for the role. I have watched every gangster movie with my Dad since I was old enough to sit up in a chair. I sent in a video audition and was cast as Luca Changretta’s (Adrien Brody) main enforcer and assassin.”
For a guy like McLaughlin cast in this particular role, Hoboken WAS his résumé.
“When I first arrived to Manchester, England for the filming, I received a very nice and warm welcome,” he says. “That may have been due to the fact the entire crew thought I was sent over from New Jersey by The Sopranos—everyone asked me if Tony Soprano was a nice guy and how it felt to be from ‘HOBOKEN, NJ’.”
McLaughlin was happy to take on that role of a New Jersey gangster—on and off camera.
“On my first day on the set, I was sent to get my hair cut. Cillian Murphy—who plays Thomas Shelby, the leader of the Peaky Blinders—was having his hair cut next to me. I was a little nervous when he looked at me like who the hell are you. I told him I was sent from New York to kill him. Luckily, he smiled which made me feel welcome,” says McLaughlin. “It was an amazing experience, even though I was stereotyped from start to finish. I wonder if they think everyone in New Jersey is connected?”
Now that he’s done battling it out in the streets of Birmingham, Gianni McLaughlin is happy to be back in his hometown.
“The thing I love the most about Hoboken is the tight community and neighborhood feeling. Hoboken is a home for its people,” he says. “Everyday, if I’m uptown or down, on Hudson St. or Monroe St., I run into people I either grew up with, went to school with, played ball with or knew since I was a little kid. I can’t help feeling like I am a part of something special.”
Hoboken is home to Gianni—always has been. And he’s still invested in the community he knows so well.
“When I’m not acting I spend the majority of my time in Hoboken selling real estate for Century 21 Innovative Realty. On the weekends I work the front door at Biggies Clam Bar. All the time in between I am usually walking around Hoboken socializing and taking in the neighborhood!”
Meanwhile, be sure to look for Gianni McLaughlin on Netflix, as Peaky Blinders Season Four begins December 21.