Chazz Palminteri biography
The Usual Suspects
Date of Birth: May 15, 1952
Chazz Palminteri's life story could be subtitled A Bronx Tale. Not only is that where he was born, but it's also the name of the play he wrote and performed in, based on his memories growing up in that famous New York borough. He was 36 at the time and after almost two decades on the fringe of Hollywood, his career was going nowhere. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and sat down to write his story that would turn into the play that created a buzz amongst Hollywood producers.
"I got so frustrated with my career one day that I sat down on my bed and started to cry," he says. "I said to myself, 'How could you be living like this if you're so talented?' Then I said: 'You are talented. They just don't know it yet.' I drove to the Thrifty Drug Store, picked up five legal pads and said, 'I am going to write something that will blow them away.' And that's when my life turned around."
Turn around it did because the play he wrote and starred in was a hit. But Palminteri refused to sell the film rights unless he was also given the screenwriting assignment and the starring role. And it's not that the offers weren't tempting to the actor. First he turned down $250,000 for the play, then he was offered and refused $500,000 and then $750,000 and then $1 million. But still no one would let him write the screenplay and star. So he moved the play out of Los Angeles where he was performing it back to his native New York.
The producers offering him the cash for A Bronx Tale without the screenwriting and acting parts he requested now told him all deals were off if the play bombed in the Big Apple. It didn't. "And," he says, "I finally sold it for a million and a half dollars." He was, of course, the star and screenwriter along with Robert DeNiro who also starred and used the material to make his directing debut. Palminteri followed up that performance with a starring role -- that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination -- in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway .
In 2010 he landed a starring role on the series Modern Family (2010 to current), which went on to be a big hit for the ABC network and won a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series.