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
‘Call Me By Your Name’ Star Timothée Chalamet: “What scares me is being boring”
"At a certain point I was able to come to grips with the idea to just 'be.'" - Timothée Chalamet
‘Phantom Thread’ Star Lesley Manville: “It’s so easy to make someone bad look good on film. In theatre, there’s no hiding place”
"Filming is different. You’re getting a moment right. You can go in and create something very good, very quickly. That’s a different challenge to having five, six weeks to rehearse a play.” - Lesley Manville
Chadwick Boseman on ‘Black Panther’ and How He Refocused His Career
"As soon as I came to L.A., things immediately shifted for me." - Chadwick Boseman
Bernadette Peters on Returning to Broadway and Why She is Still Trying to Improve Her Craft
"You have to do your best to fulfill the role, not fulfill yourself" - Bernadette Peters
Ellen Pompeo: “Acting, to me, is boring”
"Anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a f*ckin' skill." - Ellen Pompeo