Michael Imperioli dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his new film, “The Wannabe,” which opens in theaters Friday. Imperioli, 49, was approached by writer and director Nick Sandow, who plays Joe Caputo on “Orange is the New Black,” to participate in the film.
“He is a very old friend,” Imperioli said on Gio and Jones. “We’ve done movies together, we’ve done plays together, we’ve directed each other in plays and in films – he’s one of my closest friends, so naturally its something I wanted to be a part of. I really liked the role that he offered me, which is the older brother of the lead character, who is played by Vincent Piazza. He’s this young guy who desperately wants to be a gangster, although he’s kind of delusional about his ability to get into that world. (I’m) his older brother who inherited the family florist business who’s trying to keep him out of trouble basically.”
Imperioli doesn’t accept every role he is offered, of course, but there was a lot he liked about his character, Alphonse. Then again, that’s no surprise given that Sandow offered him the role.
“Well, if I really thought the role was bad, I would have trouble playing it, so I would have to address it in some way,” Imperioli explained. “But this is a friend that I’ve developed a very creative, professional relationship with over many years. The likelihood of that happening is very small.”
Imperioli is known for his work with “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos,” among other productions. “The Sopranos,” in fact, is Gregg Giannotti’s favorite show of all time. To him, it seemed that there was a genuine family atmosphere among the cast, much more so than the average television series.
“It absolutely was – (for) a couple of reasons,” Imperioli said. “One was a lot of us knew each other from before ‘The Sopranos.’ I knew Vincent Pastore, I knew Tony Sirico, I knew John Ventimiglia, I knew Lorraine Bracco, I knew Dominic Chianese. A lot of us and worked with each other in film and television and theater and things like that. So it was that aspect, and then there was just the bonding that happened on set. I didn’t know Jim Gandolfini, I didn’t know Steven Van Zandt, I didn’t know Steve Schirripa, but we were very proud of what we were doing, we loved what we were doing. Jim really set the tone (of) it being a very egalitarian, equal playing field, that everybody – crew and cast – were all on the same level. Doing that show was like going down the corner to hang out with your friends every day. I’ve never had that experience.”