From his early beginnings in Goodfellas to his recent stint on The White Lotus, actor Michael Imperioli is a force to be reckoned with. The New York native, who became a household name from his role as hothead Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos, has appeared in countless television shows and movies, performs with his own band, and even has a podcast with fellow Sopranos star, Steve Schirripa. One thing is for sure—the screen icon has come a long way since his early days of taking acting classes in Manhattan. Ahead, we take a look at the star’s career.
1960s-1980s: Growing Up In New York
Imperioli was born in 1966 to Dan Imperioli, a bus driver and amateur actor, and Claire Imperioli, a department store worker who also loved acting, in Mount Vernon, New York. When he was 11 years old, his family moved to nearby Brewster, and it was there in high school that he began to have an interest in Broadway.
1980s: Acting Classes
At 17, Imperioli relocated to New York City’s East Village and began taking acting classes at the renowned Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Acting School. Fun fact: Imperioli met fellow actor John Ventimiglia while taking classes here and decided to become roommates. The two would join forces years later when they both were given lead roles in The Sopranos—Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti and Ventimiglia as Artie Bucco.
In 1990, Imperioli appeared in the Martin Scorsese-directed mob movie Goodfellas, which starred big names like Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta. In the film, Imperioli plays Spider, a fellow mob associate who gets shot and killed.
1992: Malcolm X
Blink, and you might miss him. A 20-something-year-old Imperioli appeared as a news reporter in the hit film Malcolm X.
1995: Bad Boys
He appeared on screen a few years later in the action comedy Bad Boys, which starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Imperioli took on the role of Jojo, an old informant of Mike and Marcus.
1995: The Basketball Diaries Premiere
Here, Imperioli is photographed attending The Basketball Diaries premiere at New York City’s Sony 7 Village Theater. He played Bobby in the movie.
1996: Last Man Standing
One year later, Imperioli had a role in Last Man Standing, which boasted a cast including Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, and Leslie Mann. The young actor appeared as Girgio Carmonte, a Chicago mobster.
1996: Law & Order
In the mid-90s, Imperioli guest starred as Johnny Stivers in an episode of Law & Order. Fun fact: He was incorrectly credited as “Michael Imperiola.”
1999: The Sopranos
Imperioli became a household name when he became Christopher Moltisanti in the hit HBO television series The Sopranos. The actor won several awards for his performance on the show.
1999: Summer of Sam
In 1999, Imperioli not only starred in Summer of Sam but also wrote and executive produced the picture. The film also featured other well-known stars, including Spike Lee, John Leguizamo, Adrian Broday, and Mira Sorvino.
Early-2000s: Television Films
During the early 2000s, he appeared in several television films, including Disappearing Acts and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
2002: Love In The Time Of Money
During this period, he also appeared in the 2002 romantic comedy Love In The Time Of Money, which starred Steve Buscemi and Vera Farmiga. The movie received poor reviews from film critics.
2004: My Baby’s Daddy
A few years later, he joined forces with Eddie Griffin and Anthony Anderson for the comedy My Baby’s Daddy. The movie follows the story of three friends played by Griffin, Anderson, and Imperioli, who all find out that their girlfriends are expecting at the same time.
2005: Law & Order (Again)
He appeared on Law & Order once again in 2005. This time it was for five episodes.
2008: Life on Mars
Imperioli also acted on the short-lived ABC television series Life on Mars, which aired from October 2008 to April 2009. In it, he played Ray Carling, a detective with anger issues.
2009: Hungry Ghosts
The New York native reunited with his Sopranos counterpart, Steve Schirippa, for Hungry Ghosts. Hungry Ghosts, both written and directed by Imperioli, was his directorial debut.
2009: The Lovely Bones
That same year he played the role of Detective Len Fenerman in the drama thriller The Lovely Bones, a film based on a book of the same name.
2010: The Secret Life of the American Teenager
A year later, he guest-starred on the ABC television series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager as an OB/GYN.
2010: Detroit 1-8-7
Imperioli joined another police drama when he took on the lead role of Detective Louis Fitch in Detroit 1-8-7. The show ran for just one season on ABC.
Go back and rewatch the first season of Girls, and you may see a familiar face. The Sopranos star appeared in the popular HBO series Girls as Hannah’s writing professor, Powell Goodman.
Imperioli once again worked with Spike Lee on Lee’s 2013 film Oldboy. The film centers around a man locked in solitary confinement for 20 years without explanation.
The actor also had a recurring role in the seventh season of Californication. Another famous 90s actor, David Duchovny, also starred in the series.
2014: Mad Dogs
In 2014, he starred in the Amazon Prime series Mad Dogs, an American remake of the British show of the same name. The show ran from 2011 until 2013.
2015: Hawaii 5-0
A year later, he transformed into Odell Martin, a barber who relocated to Hawaii, in Hawaii Five-0.
2018: Alex Inc.
He also appeared in the short-lived ABC series Alex Inc., which also starred Zach Braff and Tiya Sircar.
2020: Lincoln Rhymes: Hunt for the Bone Collector
Even though this series only lasted for one season, Imperioli had a pretty substantial role as Rick Sellitto, a veteran NYPD detective who used to be Lincoln’s partner.
2020: Talking Sopranos
In 2020, Imperioli joined his Sopranos co-star, Steve Schirripa, to create Talking Sopranos, a podcast focused on all things Sopranos. As part of the program, the duo rewatched every episode of the show and discussed the behind-the-scenes stories of each one.
Not only does Imperioli write, act, and produce, but he also has his own band called Zopa. They came out with their debut album in 2020.
2023: The White Lotus
If you’re a White Lotus fan, then you already know that the famous actor had a starring role in its second season. According to reports, the show is heading to Thailand to film season three.
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