Joe Farina: The next generation of actor

WHO HE IS: Joe Farina is a former educational worker who began acting three years ago as a second career.

He follows the example of his father, “Law & Order” star Dennis Farina, a Chicago cop who worked for years to establish himself as an actor before landing a major role at 37 in Michael Mann’s “Thief” in 1981.

CREDITS: Co-stars as Captain Bill Bogdanski in the Chicago-made movie “RiffRaff,” with Robert Belushi, Jim Belushi’s son. Correctional Officer in “Prison Break,” and recently cast in the TV pilot “Enemies.” On-camera in Diamond Mart and Beer Nuts spots.

APPROACH TO HIS JOB: Decidedly practical. “I arrive at auditions early so I can read over my script or copy to get comfortable with it. I look for roles I can connect with. I try to bring my own unique style and interpretation to the role.”

BACKSTORY: Grew up in Jefferson Park. B.A. in psychology from DePaul University. Dabbled in radio. Longtime close friend of NPR and CLTV reporter Carlos Hernandez-Gomez, who was a groomsman at Farina’s 2005 wedding. Credits wife Heather as a major source of support. “A lot of this is happening because of Heather.” Worked in educational administration before transitioning to acting at 30.

RELATIONSHIP WITH FATHER: “He’s a great guy and a great father. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with him as he evolved into an actor. I got a strong sense of what the world of acting was like.”

Now Farina tries to spend as much time with his dad as possible. “He has always been supportive of what I do. If I wanted to be a window washer, he’d support me.” Is a joint project in the works? “We haven’t worked together yet but ? it could happen soon. It would be great to work with him and spend more time with him.”

CHALLENGES: . “Three years ago I made the choice to be an actor. I haven’t looked back since.” When he doesn’t get cast? “That’s part of the business. If you get cast, make the most of it. If not, move on and look into something else.”

BIG(GER) BREAK: He has a small speaking role in upcoming feature “Chasing Robert,” shot in Chicago and L.A. and starring Andy Dick, Richard Jeni and Larry Miller. He describes that experience as a “real buzz.”

FUTURE PLANS: Recently co-founded Three Flat Productions with local screenwriter Patrick Roberts, to develop and produce his own projects.

WORDS OF WISDOM: “Be professional. Stick to the basics: Know your lines. Know your marks. Do your thing. Keep it real.”

ON LIVING AND WORKING IN CHICAGO: “There are many opportunities to build a great foundation for acting in Chicago. Chicago actors are hard-working people who make their talent stand out.”

Does he plan to move to L.A.? Eventually, but not yet. “Some people want to go to L.A. right away. I believe in quite the opposite. The training here is fantastic. Indies are a wonderful opportunity to work your chops and connect with people.”

Joe Farina can be reached at or through his manager Tony DeGuide at