Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Michael Imperioli: Director John Avildsen was not a nice person

“Lean on Me” is the true story of Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman), a teacher who becomes the principal of a school infested with gangs. Thanks to hard work and unconventional methods, he restored order in the facility, saving it from liquidation.

Imperioli he was one of hundreds of juvenile extras. It had one line of text, but it was not included in the final edit of the film. As the star of “The Sopranos” recalled, AvildsenOscar winner for “Rocky”, did not make the best impression.

“He was impatient and not very nice. In fact, he seemed overwhelmed because there were over a thousand teenagers on set. My audition took place in the school cafeteria during lunch break. I was with about a hundred kids. It was terrible,” Imperioli recalled.

“It looked like the room was filled with extras. Morgan Freeman was calling out names, calling everyone to him to get him kicked out of school. Everyone had a different reaction. He read me, and I thought I was going to be a star. Only I had never been in front of a camera before “- he continued.

“It was the '80s. There were huge Panavision cameras on set and I didn't know where to look. I didn't know what I was doing. I mumbled my lines, hoping no one would pay attention to me. And then Avildsen came up to me and started give directions. Or rather, he shouted: 'You, with your text, give me something, but you're out of here.' I was terrified. 'I'm terrible, I just suck,' I thought,” he concluded.

Imperioli played his first speaking role in a memorable episode in “Goodfellas” Martin Scorsese. He played Spider, a stuttering boy who is shot by a gangster played by Joe Pesciwhen she responds to his taunts.

“I had a completely different experience with Scorses. He came to me and said, 'If you have any questions, ask me.' He said, 'Don't be shy. It's good that you treat the actors as their characters.' That was very helpful, because I found out that I can't behave like a fan. He made me feel comfortable on the set,” admitted the actor who played the role of Spider.

The breakthrough in Imperioli's acting career was the series “The Sopranos”, for which he won an Emmy Award. The actor recently appeared in the second season “White Lotus”.