Michael Imperioli Went To Some ‘Horrific’ Places For His White Lotus Performance

The “White Lotus” star is a particularly big fan of scenes with no dialogue, ones that require the articulation of emotion solely through the subtleties of facial expression and movement. “I’m very grateful [that] there are moments when you’re dealing with just raw expression of emotion rather than verbally telling the story or verbally expressing how you’re feeling, I mean, which can also be very moving and effective,” he explained on NPR’s Fresh Air. “But when there’s no words, you really have to rely on connecting to the emotion as real as you can.”

When it comes to accessing real emotions for the sake of a performance, nothing is off limits for Imperioli. However, it doesn’t require a one-to-one relationship: he didn’t necessarily imagine killing people during his murderous “Sopranos” scenes, but he might have imagined something that would send him into a violent rage that mirrored Christopher’s emotions.

“You can use anything,” he continued. “I always say nothing is sacred to me in my imagination. If I have to use something really horrific or really inappropriate or something that I would never share with anyone, tell them this is what I’m thinking about — but if it’s going to create the right thing, the right emotion for that scene, I’ll use it, and then I’ll just put it away. You know, once I use it, it’s done. I don’t even think about it ever again.”

It’s rare that actors are able to dip in and out of a character’s mental state the way that Imperioli is, particularly when playing characters as dark as Christopher and Dominic. Many notable actors like Daniel Day-Lewis and Jeremy Strong take a Method approach and remain in character for the duration of shooting, even when the cameras aren’t rolling. So how does Imperioli manage to flip the switch?

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