The Real-Life Man Behind Michael Imperioli’s Sopranos Character

Imperioli grew up in a New York suburb much like the New Jersey town where “The Sopranos” is set. The actor was born in Mount Vernon before moving upstate to Brewster at age 11, per The Wall Street Journal. Along the way, he met some people that would’ve fit right into the world of “The Sopranos” and he used them to inform his own character on the show. One acquaintance, in particular, bore a lot of similarities to Christopher, both in the script and in what Imperioli brought to the role.

“Well, there were some very literal things that — the parallels like being from kind of — not New Jersey but a similar kind of New York-adjacent, you know, kind of place, addictive things and brushes with the mob,” he explained on NPR’s Fresh Air. “He wasn’t a mobster, but there were — he had some brushes with them.”

It wasn’t this man’s addiction or criminal connections that informed Imperioli’s performance, though — it was his theatricality.

“[…] [T]his person, who I knew when I was a lot younger, was very hyperbolic in his expression of emotions to the point where sometimes I wasn’t sure if he was acting or not,” the “White Lotus” star added. “He was very big that way. You know what I mean? Like, when he — especially when he felt he was being slighted or, you know, expressing injustice, feeling that kind of thing, which Christopher always felt like […] He was unappreciated and being slighted[.]”

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