White Lotus actor Michael Imperioli said his hardest scenes to film involve moments of physical violence against women.
When asked by The Guardian about his most challenging scene, the Sopranos alum, 57, said it was when his character on the critically acclaimed HBO series, Christopher Moltisanti, was violent toward his fiancée Adriana La Cerva, played by Drea de Matteo.
“It’s much easier shooting a mobster or shooting heroin,” Imperioli explained, referencing the troubled life of his character. “That stuff to me is not difficult. But that stuff with her was.”
Calling the violence toward Adriana “the most brutal, difficult stuff for me,” Imperioli noted that part of that was for the technical reasons, since “you’re trying to be really careful so you don’t hurt the person.” But it was also due to “having to get to that point of violence towards a woman.”
“You have to go to some nasty places to get there,” he said. “Sometimes it’s very immediate. Sometimes it’s something present in your life that you can tap into. Sometimes you have to go someplace from the past. And sometimes you have to go to someplace imaginary.”
Imperioli noted that they occasionally would use stunt doubles in such violent scenes that required choreography and rehearsal. But when the cameras rolled, it got more complicated.
“Then when you act it full-tilt with all the emotion, it’s easy to not have as much control as in the rehearsal,” said Imperioli. “So you really have to be quite careful.”
Imperioli has had to tackle a variety of violent scenes throughout the years, including when his character, Spider, was murdered by Joe Pesci in the 1990 gangster classic Goodfellas.
Looking back on the scene, Imperioli told Deadline that he had to wear tiny devices attached to his chest that exploded with blood, then fall backward to mimic the impact of getting shot. Unfortunately, he cut himself on a tray of drinks and had to be rushed to the hospital where doctors mistook his injuries for actual gunshot wounds.
Despite his injuries, Imperioli was just thrilled to be working on the film with some of his heroes, including Robert De Niro.
“I wanted that job at all costs,” Imperioli explained. “It was Martin Scorsese — he’d made some of my favorite movies. I was all in.”
In the present day, Imperioli hasn’t lost his edge. Following last month’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a web designer could refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings, Imperioli took to Instagram in a now-deleted post to sarcastically declare bigots and homophobes were no longer permitted to watch his work.
“I’ve decided to forbid bigots and homophobes from watching The Sopranos, The White Lotus, Goodfellas or any movie or tv show I’ve been in,” he caption the photo, Deadline reported. “Thank you Supreme Court for allowing me to discriminate and exclude those who I don’t agree with and am opposed to. USA! USA!”
In the replies, he noted that “hate and ignorance is not a legitimate point of view” and that “America is becoming dumber by the minute.”