When “By the Gun” was given an R rating for violence, strong language, and nudity, the producers reacted gleefully.
“I was, like, All right, good,” says writer-producer Emilio Mauro. “It’s a gangster movie. It lives in that world.”
Filmed two years ago in the North End, “By the Gun” is a by-the-numbers Mafia movie starring Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, Harvey Keitel, and Stoughton’s own Kenny Wormald. It premieres Monday at the AMC Boston Common, and Barnes, Wormald, Mauro, and director James Mottern will all be there. The movie, which was made in about three weeks for barely $3 million, tells the story of a guy, played by Barnes, who joins the mob only to discover he wants out. Best known for his role in “The Chronicles of Narnia” movies, the British-born Barnes had to do a Boston accent. “[Mottern] didn’t want too much emphasis on the accent, but Ben does a good job,” said Mauro, who acknowledged that Barnes and Meester, who’s best known for “Gossip Girl,” are out of their comfort zone in “By the Gun.” And then there’s Keitel, 75, whose acting resume includes “Taxi Driver,” “Reservoir Dogs,” and “The Piano.” “Harvey dove right in. This part is right in his wheelhouse,” said Mauro. “Not that he’s notorious for playing mob bosses, but he’s a city guy, a tough guy. He was definitely the person on the set you didn’t have to worry about.” Other familiar faces include Boston actors Armen Garo, Damien Di Paola, Jay Giannone, Michael Yebba, and Slaine. “By the Gun” has the gritty look of other recent Boston-based dramas, including “The Departed,” “Gone Baby Gone,” and “The Town.” “It’s entertainment and I love all those movies,” said Mauro. “But those are all Southie, Dorchester, and Charlestown. This is the North End.” The movie opens in a limited number of theaters Dec. 5. “I don’t have any expectations, to be honest,” said Mauro. “I just hope people like the movie.”