Chazz Palminteri Video Interview On ‘The Dukes,’ ‘A Bronx Tale’
Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri takes your questions about his new film The Dukes, playing tough guys and his classic A Bronx Tale.
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Ok, Shala. It’s true I’m a writer and director, and I have strong opinions on all the movies that I do. I think I can help a lot of them. I’m a screenplay writer and sometimes I can, you know, make it better. Sometimes, the director and the writer will let me do it and sometimes they want to leave it the way it is. I’m confident enough if I can think of a suggestion and they take it, but I always remember that in the movies the director is the captain of the ship. He’s the one who [has] the final say. So I have helped write some of the screenplays that I’ve been in. Not this one [The Dukes], but it was already there. Did I make some suggestions, yeah, but if [director] Robert [Davi]liked it he used it, if he didn’t like it he didn’t use it.
It's true, I have played a lot of tough guys in movies. Cops, wise guys, things like that. That's what really struck me about when I read
the script of The Dukes. It was funny, and it was a guy who wasn't a tough guy, he was just funny. And he was a singer and I started out as
a singer in a doo wop group so I was really able to connect with the characters and do a comedy, which I love. I started in comedy but I
play a lot of these roles in my movies like a Bronx terror, Analyze This, Usual Suspects, so I'm known for those movies. I think between
the main characters, there's 4 guys, we were like the golden guys. We sang, we had a great group, a doo wop group, that was in the 60s. Now
all the sudden it's 2008 and we're broke, we have no money so we decide to pull off a job. The relationship we had was the dilemma
between all of us. Some guys wanted to do it, some guys didn't. It's really a morality tale too, we had to like talk each other into it.
When I wrote A Bronx Tale, actually 19 years ago, I wanted to write something about the working man. All these mafia movies that glamorize the wise guys, it was bothering me so I wanted to talk about the working man. The Italian-American community is really just made up of the working people: the bakers, the firemen, the cops and the mafia is just this little operation in the Italian-American community so I wanted to talk about Lorenzo Palmineri who said, 'The working man's the
tough guy. I'm the tough guy.' It doesn't take much to strength to pull a trigger but get up in the morning. I wanted to create that theme and talk about a Bronx tale so to me A Bronx tale is a movie dedicated to the working people in this country.
How do I manage to keep all the characters separate? Well as an actor, you're crazy! It's hard to say how you do that. It's something
you're born with, you're instinctual, you train and you do the best you can. The way I kept them separate is I had to make each person sound different, look different, speak different, like different registers. The father spoke at a low register, Sonny spoke at a very high register with more of a stronger Bronx accent. So that's how you really do that. If you have three or four of them speaking at once, the audience can know who's talking at the same time.