Michael Imperioli spoke out about the famous actors he met while working on “Goodfellas”, and “The Sopranos” sets – and the scene which sent him to the emergency department.
Imperioli, 56 was a star after he was cast in Martin Scorsese’s mob film “Goodfellas” when he was 23 years old.
Scorsese was an actor’s dream come true, he stated. “It’s almost like playing on the Yankees in a World Series.
For Imperioli, it was more thrilling than intimidating to work with Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro, and Ray Liotta.
“For some strange reason. He explained that he enjoys high-stakes situations. “I enjoy being under pressure in terms of work.
Scorsese is the reason he feels so comfortable on set, he says. He said, “Marty made it so easy for me.” “From the moment I met him to the moment that I arrived, he made it feel like home. And I was an actor. The director didn’t make me feel this way when I was first cast in the film.
Scorsese was “very, very kind” and I believe he knew this – how important it is to me. He said that I had tried to find work because I was trying.
He said that most of the content you see was improvised. This is a testimony to his trustworthiness of young actors. It’s pretty incredible to work with legends like these and let them respond in their way.
Also, Imperioli recalled a time when he was hurt while filming the scene in which Tommy (played by Joe Pesci) shoots and kills him.
He said, “I’m supposed to go flying back into the bar and hit the ground with three bullet holes.” “They have a stunt double. “I said no, I want my stunt.”
He hit the bar and the glass he was holding broke, cutting off two of his fingers. He recalled, “I look up, and I see Robert De Niro staring down at me.” The injury was “pretty serious.”
Imperioli was driven by a production assistant to the hospital. Nurses thought that he had been severely injured when they saw the fake blood and bullet holes on his chest.
“Three bullet holes in mine chest, and it’s Queens New York. He said that they thought he was about to die. He tried to explain that he was filming a movie, but they thought he was delirious and were talking about Robert De Niro.
“So they put me on a stretcher and wheeled me into trauma. Now I’m telling them about what’s going on. They won’t listen.”
“Finally they start going into my shirt and see all of the squibbing. The wires are connected to fake blood packs. “I told you that I was making a movie. I cut my fingers.”
Staff stitched his wounds and sent him back on set two hours later. They filmed three more takes for the final scene.
According to Imperioli, he was focused on his work and didn’t engage in “a lot of
chitchat with the older actors” on “Goodfellas.”
“The last thing that I wanted was to talk to them about acting because I knew it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.”
He did however make one suggestion for the movie that “really took lots of balls,” he stated. Marty made me feel that way, so I just trusted my instincts.”
The props manager allowed him to reset the poker tables where the mobsters were gambling. Spider, his character, was their “errand boy”, ferrying drinks and cleaning out ashtrays. The idea of Imperioli was to move the bottles so he could face the mobster while they made their drinks, rather than facing away. This allowed him to better monitor who needs refills.
This kind of suggestion is not something an actor would ever make,” Imperioli stated. It’s a union job. You don’t want to mess with union workers. Or you might be fired.”
He also said that props were very specific. They have continuity issues depending on how they move the camera around. Everything has to be the same.
Scorsese loved the idea and moved the bottles.
“When I think about this now, I’m like: I wouldn’t even consider doing that now. I assume the prop guy will do it right. “I don’t have to do that,” Imperioli stated.
“But there was something instinctual. Marty made it feel like he wanted to live this way with you.