With a plethora of cop and gangster roles to his credit, Farina was known for his tough-guy persona but capable of displaying the heart and soul of his characters. Some of his well-known projects included the films Midnight Run and Get Shorty and TV's Law & Order, in which he played Detective Joe Fontana.
Born in Chicago to Sicilian-American parents, Farina served for close to two decades in the Chicago Police Department's burglary division before turning to acting. Working as an advisor to director Michael Mann on the 1981 James Caan drama Thief, Farina was cast in a small role in the film and caught the acting bug. He did the stage rounds and bit TV parts before Mann put him in his Crime Story series. Later projects for Farina included Miami Vice, China Beach, Striking Distance, Out of Sight, Saving Private Ryan, Snatch and Luck.