Being connected to a giant function on one of the revered tv reveals in historical past is the last word double-edged sword in leisure, much more so if that function was as a member of the Italian mob. Michael Imperioli ought to know that higher than anyone, since most individuals would instantly acknowledge him as Christopher Moltisanti, one of the intriguing characters on The Sopranos. But as an alternative of letting himself be typecast within the 15 years for the reason that present ended, Imperioli has been protecting busy to be able to purchase himself a while. You’ll see him pop up in an indie movie, then perhaps on an episode of a community crime procedural right here, a SAG Award-nominated half in One Night in Miami there — however that subsequent huge function on a tv present was going to need to be one thing actually particular. He discovered that after which some enjoying the damaged, sex-addicted Dominic “Dom” Di Grasso on the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus. Imperioli — together with a stellar solid that features Jennifer Coolidge reprising her Emmy-winning function from the primary season, F. Murray Abraham and Aubrey Plaza — was tasked with making an attempt one thing out of the odd: making the second season of a tv present set in the identical posh, all-inclusive resort universe as the primary, however doing it with an virtually totally new solid of characters, in a unique location and with completely different tales.
A well known undertaking with a profitable observe document that doesn’t contain him being a member of the mafia with a thick New Jersey accent, The White Lotus: Sicily supplied him an opportunity to do one thing completely different for his résumé and an opportunity to present some viewers a brand new means to have a look at an actor they know for a particular function. But for Imperioli, it’s work. If he’s not performing, he’s busy doing one thing — from writing novels and screenplays to enjoying in his band, Zopa. As he tells THR, enjoying round with completely different inventive mediums isn’t a lot one thing he does out of boredom, however extra of a possibility to at all times have an outlet for his unbounded creativity.
You’ve completed a lot between The Sopranos and The White Lotus. You wrote a novel, you play frequently in your band, you podcast. Do you’re feeling the necessity to at all times be doing one thing inventive, or is it extra that you just’re trying to broaden your horizons and maintain redefining your self?
I began enjoying music across the identical time I began finding out performing, and I began writing not lengthy after that. It took me loads longer to actually discover any type of voice as a author or any type of proficiency for fairly some time as a result of I didn’t actually examine it. I did examine performing for a very long time, in addition to producing theater and directing theater and issues like that, in my early 20s. I don’t have a look at it as making an attempt out some new kind, as a result of all of this stuff have at all times been with me. But they had been at all times simply technique of inventive expression. For someone like me, it’s essential to have completely different modes of inventive expression, as a result of with performing you’re sitting round ready for the following sequence or film to solid you.
I think about you’re additionally cautious about not getting pigeonholed as an actor.
People are very skeptical whenever you’ve achieved some type of very public notoriety, particularly in one thing like TV. Lots of people suppose, “Oh, now you’ve got this commercial success, so you’re using that to try some other thing.” But I got here up within the early ’80s in downtown New York, the place multidisciplinary artists had been the norm. Cross-pollination between punk rock and experimental theater and movie and portray — it was very fluid. When you attain any type of business success, particularly in one thing like tv, to name your self a multidisciplinary artist type of sounds actually pretentious, however individuals try this on a regular basis. (Laughs.)
Something I respect about your roles in each The Sopranos and The White Lotus is that you just work very well with others. What do you want about working with an ensemble solid?
Collaboration is at all times one thing that’s actually essential to me, particularly once I can work with associates and people who I’ve completed stuff with. My spouse and I constructed a theater that we opened in 2003, Studio Dante, the place it wasn’t actually an organization — it was actually a theater that we ran, however it type of grew to become [a company] de facto. It was a number of colleagues that we had labored with over time in movie and theater and tv. And to me, it’s not simply being collaborative with colleagues. I really feel like very a lot a part of a scene that began within the ’80s in New York, once I began going to performing colleges, a few of whom I nonetheless work with at the moment. And additionally related to a sure lineage in New York. I actually respect the collaborative spirit when everybody’s working towards a factor.
F. Murray Abraham performs your father on The White Lotus, and I couldn’t recover from how I stored considering, “They really feel like they could be father and son.” How did you two make it work?
Murray and I grew to become actually good associates doing this, I feel for quite a few causes. We have a shared appreciation for what we do, however he’s a really completely different actor than I’m. He brings a sure theatricality to his work, but it’s grounded in a lot reality that there’s magic that occurs. It’s arduous actually to clarify, however it’s very profound to work reverse of him. And by “theatricality,” I don’t imply “artificial” or something. If you do a number of movie and good tv performing, you actually get used to protecting issues very contained. The eyes are a very powerful factor on the finish of the day, particularly on tv as a result of there are at all times going to be close-ups, extra so than filmmaking. Whereas theater performing is a lot about the entire instrument. And with Murray, my resort room was beneath his, and I may hear him doing vocal workout routines each single day. Even when he had COVID. We each had it on the identical time, and I used to be dying with a sore throat. I couldn’t even converse. And I hear Murray singing. He’s 82 years previous, doing it day by day whereas he’s bought COVID. He simply actually embodies somebody who has devoted his life to the artwork and loves it and respects it.
You’ve now performed a personality with roots in Naples on The Sopranos and one other with roots in Sicily on The White Lotus. As an Italian American, how do these roles show you how to higher perceive your personal background?
I used to be round 25 once I first went to Italy, and I went to Rome, which is the place my household’s from. It was a really profound expertise — I used to be actually overwhelmed. I broke down in tears, and I don’t actually know why. There had been issues that actually appeared very acquainted. Sounds, individuals’s voices, faces, smells, gentle. Yet it was international — it was acquainted and international. I had by no means had that have. I’d been to different completely different nations, and I used to be at all times a foreigner. And I used to be a foreigner in Italy, but there was a robust connection to it.
With The White Lotus, you’re approaching for the second season of one of many greatest essential hits of the previous few years. What was the most important problem?
It was a type of win-win scenario as a result of it’s such as you’re on a brand new present however it’s already a success. It’s a really uncommon alternative and scenario that I’ve by no means been in. You would possibly be part of a success present within the third season or one thing as a brand new castmember. But this was very particular since you don’t have to look at season one to know what’s happening in season two in any respect. The problem is simply dwelling as much as what they did within the first season. I didn’t even see the primary season till after I auditioned.
Did writer-director Mike White have any particular recommendation on how you would reside as much as what the first-season solid did?
I feel he was involved about making it actual and trustworthy. We had been actually on the identical web page concerning the character, [and] speaking about habit is the place we each discovered widespread floor. When I bought to Italy, I had gone by means of all of the scripts and had my notes and had little ideas right here and there, a few of which made it into the script with none type of ego challenge, and nothing intensive. It wasn’t about that. But there have been little nuggets that I assumed would possibly work and he was completely open to incorporating that if he appreciated them.
I feel the [first season of the] sequence works as a result of the actors performed these characters so in truth, they weren’t caricatures. Even the character of Shane, performed by Jake Lacy — everyone is aware of a man like that. But he performed it so in truth. A particular and trustworthy portrayal of someone who simply may have been written off as some type of stereotype. When I began watching the present, within the first couple of moments I used to be like, “Is this going to be some cynical statement about how rich people suck and the world sucks and everything’s shit?” It was something however that. [White] actually reveals individuals with a number of dimension and humanity and compassion for all of us. I discovered that very inspiring.
Interview edited for size and readability.
This story first appeared in a November stand-alone challenge of The Hollywood Reporter journal. To obtain the journal, click here to subscribe.