I was born in Brooklyn on February 13, 1962 and lived in Canarsie my whole life until last year when my wife and I bought a 100 year old Victorian house in Kensington Brooklyn, just southwest of Prospect Park.
I have an MBA in Finance, though most of my friends have art/film type backgrounds. I began acting in 1995 when a good friend asked me to audition for a low-budget indie he was shooting. My youth was shaped by serious abuse of alcohol from the ages of 13 – 18 when I quit for good, and the incredible concentration of mob activity in “Little Ol’ Canarsie” (do a search for “Canarsie” on GanglandNews for an idea of what I’m talking about ).
My adult life has been shaped by my love for classical music, playing the piano, and of course, my wife and muse of 11 years, Nanette. The past year of my life has been dedicated almost exclusively to restoring my house, doing all the work myself or with Nanette.
- 1. How did you find out you’d gotten a role on The Sopranos?
- I was at my real job (database programmer at the NYC Dept. of Transportation) and I called to check my messages at home. Casting had called and left a message that I got the part. There was much rejoicing!
- 2. How has working on The Sopranos altered your life?
- Not much really. At first getting the part meant a lot to me because it was a difficult audition with a call back and I was specifically selected by David Chase and Georgianne Walken (emmy-winning casting director) for the part. It was a personal victory that gave me confidence as an actor because I had to work on being emotional at an audition in a way I’d never been before. BUT, I have done only 2 student films in the 2+ years since the Sopranos, so I can’t say it has opened any doors for me. I really can’t think of myself as an actor, unless I’m acting.
- 3. Tell us about your favorite Sopranos memory?
- There are a couple. We had a table reading of the episode at Silvercup the week before production. I got there early because I had a wardrobe fitting. SO I was sitting in the room at the table before anyone else got there. Slowly, all of these people who looked familiar walked into the room, it looked like everyone who was ever in a Scorcese film sat at the table. On my left a guy sat down and said, “Hi, I’m John.” I said, “Yeah, I know.” It was John Heard. On my right sat an older gentleman who was incredibly familiar looking. We chatted a bit. It was Dominic Chianese! Very cool.
The day of production was absolutely incredible too. I had to be fit with a safety harness for the work on the bridge. There was a stunt double as well on the set, but they wanted me to be harnessed. So I go to the stunt trailer and the rigger is a guy I grew up with, Mike Russo. There was much rejoicing. We had lots of fun, and I felt safe because the stunt team was great and specifically the guy who rigged me was a friend. I ended up doing all my own stunt work and the stunt double was not even used. The stunt team were all very impressed with me. That was very cool.
- 4. Do you have any similarities to your character, Rusty Irish?
- Other than selling drugs and being Irish-American, no. 🙂
I think it’s clear that I was a physical type that fit the character well. I auditioned all scruffy and unshaven, wearing a tanktop with all my 20 year old tattoos showing. So there is that. Though I’d never wear the shirt Rusty was wearing on his final day.
- 5. What made you choose to become an actor?
- Acting sort of found me. Out of nowhere in January of 1995, I was given a good speaking part in an independent film directed by my good friend Richard Shepard. I never pursued acting prior to that. The film is called Mercy. No one on the set could believe I was a novice. Somewhere in the middle of production I decided to pursue acting as a hobby.
- 6. What role would you most like to play?
- Anything recurring 🙂
- I’m drawn to dark, introspective, tragic art. I’d love to do a film which utilizes my knowledge of classical music (I play piano) and opera with my fascination with dark anti-social elements within an individual. How a man can be moved to tears by profound art, but indifferent to the suffering of people he sees every day.
- 7. What is in your future?
- Without an agent, I have few opportunities to audition for paid work. I’m not good at going after agents and saying, “Hey, I’m a good actor, you NEED me.” I also cold read very poorly. So it’s difficult for me to imagine that there is anything big in my future. I’ll keep plugging along and I’ll get small parts here and there, I guess. My director friends have helped me enormously by getting me into the casting pile, as in the case of Sopranos, or giving me parts directly in their own films, as in 1996’s Mercy (with John Rubinstein, Sam Rockwell and Maura Tierney) and Oxygen (with Adrien Brody, Maura Tierney and Terry Kinney). Alan Taylor, the director of Pax, told the casting people they should see my headshot. I got the part on the merits, but I needed to be in the pile. Hopefully at some point an agent will find me.
- I know that you only had a small part in the show, but how long in total did it take to do?
- Believe it or not, it was a half day shoot with 2 cameras rolling for most of the shots. The greatest disappointment of my acting career was seeing how little was actually used in the show. I don’t know if the acting sucked and they needed to cut it out or what, but the scene was longer and it was seriously covered film wise.
- Did you also have to practice in the studio?
- Nope. Day player scenes typically have a few run-throughs on location, then you shoot. Then you go home.
- Were you scared when you were on the bridge, given the height and the possible dangers?
- Although I’m intrinsically a bit afraid of heights, I felt safe thanks to the stunt rigging. I also do things for the sake of verisimilitude in front of the camera which I would not do normally.
- Is it true that a “dummy” was used and was it ever recovered?
- The fall was very far. 2 dummies were used. I don’t know if they were retrieved.
- Would you be nervous about running into Mikey Palmice on a bridge again?
- In as much as we’re both dead now, no. I must say I was glad to see him get whacked, though.
- Do you remember what the lunch menu was that day and how would you describe it?
- Lunch was especially good because it was at the restaurant used in the episode for Junior’s promotional dinner. I had chicken marsala. Molto bene!
- About how many people would you estimate were on the bridge with you that day?
- A relatively small crew was out on the actual span, maybe 4 or 5 people with the director. On the sidelines were many, maybe 2 dozen or so including David Chase for a while. All those people and nobody tried to save me!
- What are some of your favorite web sites?
- I’m an internationally known finder of good bargains, so I spend a lot of
- time on classified ad sites like LootUSA – a local NY free add paper which has a great site, and Classifieds2000, and most recently eBay. I sold lots of stuff on eBay recently, and I’m totally hooked. Besides that I usually read news at NYTimes and get weather at, well, Weather.com.
My broad interest lead me to research various things on a regular basis. Most recently I searched for info about composers Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Erik Satie. I found out that Gottschalk is buried about a mile from my house at Green-Wood Cemetery. Then I researched Green-Wood to find that hundreds of famous and infamous people are buried there. Fascinating! I also like to keep up on the motorcycle world in Europe by reading the Brit publication MCN at.
I’m all over the place, essentially. I also use usenet quite frequently – more often then the web for real expert knowledge. My favorite newsgroups are rec.music.makers.piano, rec.music.opera, alt.home.repair, rec.motorcycle.
- Anything else you’d like to tell Sopranoland visitors?
- Your Mother was right: always wear clean underwear.
For more information, visit Christopher J. Quinn’s web site.