John Turturro on the Life of an Actor: “It’s a rough business. I wouldn’t want my kids to do it”

John Turturro in Mia Madre

I am usually very well prepared. If you’re a surgeon, you’ve got to know what you’re going to take out today.” – John Turturro


Workingman actor John Turturro isn’t exactly the type you’d think of being a prima donna when it comes to his behind-the-scenes behavior, but that doesn’t stop Turturro from portraying the type of actor who drives directors crazy on set in Mia Madre, directed by Nanni Moretti. In an interview with The Irish Times, Turturro claims that his portrayal is based on experience working with headcase actors, including his own bad acting habits. He also touches upon why he thinks acting is such a tough business.

Turturro reveals his egotistical character is inspired by actors he has known who weren’t at their best. He admits, “It’s based on a lot of people. I’ve seen this sort of thing. There are actors who have had bad days and have big arguments. There are actors who aren’t as prepared as they should be. I have seen behavior way beyond that. It’s an occupational hazard. There are guys who are drunk or they are lonely. They have to pick everybody up, maybe. It’s a strange life. It can come out of you in a lot of different ways.”

Perhaps to be fair, Turturro says he’s had his rough moments as well. He recalls, “I have had fights with directors myself. But I am usually very well prepared. If you’re a surgeon, you’ve got to know what you’re going to take out today.Of course, Turturro doesn’t believe acting is for everyone. “It’s a rough business. I wouldn’t want my kids to do it. My oldest son is in the world of cartooning. He’s with DC Comics. If you have a passion for something.”

An example of the business being rough? Turturro is most recognized for playing a perverted bowler in The Big Lewbowski, something he was originally uncomfortable with being famous for. He points out, “When I first saw the movie, I thought Jeff was terrific, but I thought my role was kind of embarrassing,” he says. “It didn’t even get good reviews. But the kids discovered it. It became the sort of film you can watch many times.

Leave a Reply
William H. Macy: “This may sound pretentious, but I am getting better at what I do every day”
"I love the fact that I work every day." - William H. Macy
Luke Hemsworth on ‘Westworld’: “It was a no-brainer to me. I was absolutely going to jump onboard”
"As an actor, if you're given very little information about what's going on, then you're forced to make it up." - Luke Hemsworth
Khary Payton on His ‘Walking Dead’ Audition: “It was one of the more substantial auditions I’ve ever done”
"I always say I’m in the hope business. You’ve got to stay hopeful. You’ve got to get up off your behind and try again..." - Khary Payton
Hayley Atwell’s Best Career Advice: “I’d say the main thing is: show up. Show up and be professional”
Atwell reflects on her career and recounts why she wanted to become an actress since she was a child and what was the best career advice she ever received.
Mike Colter on Playing ‘Luke Cage’: “I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist”
Colter says that it didn't take long for him to understand the importance of the character in comic book history.