"I didn't grow up with people who said, 'We're going to be famous theater stars!'" says Desmond Harrington. "We were a bunch of white kids in the Bronx, and my friends that I grew up with now are cops, or firemen, or construction workers, or businessmen."
Harrington, though, found acting--or rather acting found him, considering his debut role as a soldier in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc was the first thing he ever auditioned for. After playing Brittany Murphy's greaser boyfriend in Riding in Cars With Boys, he'll be causing problems for Leelee Sobieski's quirky relationship with Albert Brooks in this month's My First Mister, and he's a machine-gunner in the upcoming Randall Wallace Vietnam epic, We Were Soldiers, for which the cast was put through boot camp. "Your head is shaved, that guy's head is shaved; you're wearing green, that guy's wearing green," he says. "They kind of put that into your head. The best thing we got from that was that when these guys went out to fight, it wasn't that they were fighting for America--maybe they were, but basically you fought for the guy next to you."
After stints tending bar, landscaping and doing construction, Harrington seems to have come a long way, but he'll never forget his roots. "On Riding in Cars, the production office was up in Yonkers, and literally right across the street was a hotel that I built. I mean, I didn't build it myself or anything, but I was one of the guys that knocked down the wall, you know?"