John tur­turro

The Ital­ian-Amer­i­can ac­tor-di­rec­tor goes back to his roots…

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The NY ac­tor is our Hero.

With 35 years in film, John Tur­turro, 58, has worked with ev­ery­one from Spike Lee ( Do The Right Thing) and Martin Scors­ese ( The Color Of Money) to Woody Allen ( Han­nah And Her Sis­ters) and the Coens ( Bar­ton Fink, Miller’s Cross­ing). He pours all of that ex­pe­ri­ence into his latest cre­ation – a self­im­por­tant ac­tor on lo­ca­tion in Italy in Nanni Moretti’s touch­ing Mia Madre. In Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre, you play the in­fu­ri­at­ing thesp Barry Hug­gins. What do you make of him? What do I make of him? I’ve seen him. I know him… some­times, on a shoot, if some­body is a re­ally fa­mous per­son, they re­ally go out of their way to make ev­ery­body feel re­laxed. But other peo­ple, they come in and have to be the cock of the walk. They start telling jokes and ev­ery­body starts laugh­ing and it’s not re­ally funny. You’re like, ‘Wow, now I’ve got to put up with this for a long time!’

Barry claims he’s worked with Kubrick. Did you ever meet the great man? I al­most worked with him – al­most. It was for the last movie [ Eyes Wide Shut], but I wasn’t avail­able for the two years that he wanted me. I talked to him about it. It didn’t work out… we had a great con­ver­sa­tion. He re­ally liked me as an ac­tor, which meant a lot to me. It would’ve been in­ter­est­ing to see – do­ing 75 takes – and how you [ deal with that]. It’s not my favourite movie of his that he made, but it would’ve been in­ter­est­ing.

Who is the most de­mand­ing di­rec­tor you’ve worked with?

I don’t know. There have been de­mand­ing di­rec­tors that have been very good. Nanni is a very de­mand­ing di­rec­tor. But stim­u­lat­ing, and he doesn’t con­strict you. Ear­lier on in my life, I worked with [ Wil­liam] Fried­kin and [ Michael] Cimino – that was a dif­fer­ent world. Co­caine-driven, bru­tal, ac­tors be­ing han­dled dif­fer­ent ways. It wasn’t very gen­tle, and I didn’t re­ally like it. But I learned a lot, and I learned to speak up for my­self… you need to be able to speak up when you have to.

You’ve al­ways man­aged to float be­tween Hol­ly­wood and indies. Has that been easy?

I hate the idea that there’s this in­die world. I hate to ghet­toise. When I was younger, those big block­buster movies were fewer and far be­tween. Movies are movies. I saw some movies last year – a lot of them were in­de­pen­dently fi­nanced and they were movies that got a lot of ac­claim. It’s all the same to me.

What about work­ing with Michael Bay, as you did on Trans­form­ers?

That’s another world! That’s my elec­tri­cal world. I’m usu­ally a plumber. When I work for Michael Bay, I’m an elec­tri­cian!

You also have be­come a reg­u­lar Adam San­dler col­lab­o­ra­tor. How did that hap­pen?

I hosted Satur­day Night Live, and they asked me to play in Mr. Deeds. I didn’t want to play a big role, and I liked these two small parts. I said, ‘If you put them to­gether, I think I can come up with some­thing.’ And I had a re­ally good time do­ing that. Adam let me do ex­actly what I wanted to do, and I re­ally en­joyed that. But­lers are good roles!

You’re in Hands Of Stone, about boxer Roberto Du­ran. What can you say?

I did a cameo for Bob De Niro, be­cause he pestered me no end to do it! I’d like to put Bob in a film with Nanni – they could be like cousins! I’ve worked with Bob a bunch of times – What Just Hap­pened?, The Good Shep­herd. I’ve done mil­lions of read­ings with him. He re­ally wanted me to do this, and I’m a Roberto Du­ran fan too, so there you go. JM

‘Trans­form­ers is my elec­tri­cal world. I’m usu­ally a plumber’

To­tally Tur­turro: (top to bot­tom) in Bar­ton Fink, Trans­form­ers, and throw­ing shapes in new film Mia Madre.

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