Oscar-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri, 55, got his big movie break with the 1993 release of “A Bronx Tale,” an adaptation of his one-man play that appeared Off-Broadway. Now showing on Broadway, it’s the story of a boy named Calogero – Palminteri’s first name – torn between his law-abiding bus driver father, and Sonny, the charismatic gangster whom he befriends after witnessing him kill a man. Dressed all in black and sipping water backstage before Wednesday night’s performance, Palminteri talked to the Resident about returning to work after the strike, fatherhood and his undying love for the Yankees.—Cotton Delo
How does it feel to be back at work?
CP: It feels good. New York without Broadway is pretty sad. It’s like a tuxedo with brown shoes. It just doesn’t fit.
Does it feel different to perform “A Bronx Tale” 20 years later?
CP: Before, when I did it the first time, I was looking at it from a son to the father, because, obviously, I wasn’t married and I didn’t have children. And now when I perform it, it’s more from father to son, because I have a son now, and I have a daughter. I think it’s actually even more impactful now, knowing what my father’s words meant now that I’m saying these exact words to my children.
You played Sonny in the film version. If you had it to do over, would you still play him?
CP: Oh, yeah. Sonny was the part for me, at the time. I knew that was the flashy part, and I knew it would be a good start for my movie career.
Does performing these 18 roles evoke certain memories?
CP: Oh, yeah. I was that little boy sitting on the stoop when that man killed a man, right in front of me. That’s exactly the way it happened. It’s not a documentary of my life. It’s semi-biographical, with some major events: my father was a bus driver, I saw this killing, I befriended the wise guys, I used to throw the dice [for them], I had a relationship with a black girl. So a lot of that is all true, and then I just kind of threw it all together in a story.
What’s your old bronx neighborhood around 187th and Belmont like these days? Do you still go back?
CP: I still go there to go shopping. I go to Mike’s Deli to get all the great cold cuts and Gino’s Pastry for the cannolis. And I go to Roberto’s, the best Italian restaurant in New York.
There’s a scene where Sonny tells Calogero that Mickey Mantle doesn’t care about him. Calogero then says he never felt the same way about baseball, but is this true to life? You’re a diehard Yankee fan.
CP: One of the wise guys couldn’t understand [me]. He was just saying, “Hey look, what are you worried about? [The Yankees] aren’t going to worry about you.” Very cynical. I’m still a diehard Yankee fan, but it kind of changed my perspective. When I got older, when they lose, I get upset, but I don’t want to kill myself.