Mostly Credited As: John Turturro
Date Of Birth: February 28, 1957 (Age 56)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York
Frizzy-haired, nervouslooking, viscerally unappealing actor (with considerable stage experience, including training at the prestigious Yale Drama School) played a series of eccentric bits, in 1980's Raging Bull and throughout the decade in Exterminator II, The Flamingo Kid (both 1984), Desperately Seeking Susan, To Live and Die in L.A (both 1985), The Color of Money, Gung Ho, Hannah and Her Sisters, Off Beat (all 1986) and The Sicilian (1987). He finally caught the attention of critics-and audiences-with his ultracreepy portrayal of a neighborhood nut fixated on Jodie Foster in the urban comedydrama Five Corners (1987). Since that time he's become a favorite of director Spike Lee and producer-director siblings Ethan and Joel Coen, who've cast him in a total of six films between them. His portrayals of extremely unsavory Jewish characters in Lee's Mo' Better Blues and the Coens' Miller's Crossing (1990), and of a thickheaded Italian racist in Do the Right Thing (1989) were controversial, but most of the flak was directed at the filmmakers rather than the actor. He appeared in Dennis Hopper's Backtrack (1989) and a pair of contemporary gangster films, State of Grace (1990) and Men of Respect (1991), and Barton Fink (also 1991; he had starring roles in the last two). That same year he proved he could play sympathetic characters just as well, giving a touching performance as a befuddled but good-hearted spurned boyfriend in Lee's interracial romance-cumpolemic Jungle Fever (also 1991). In 1992 he played a Groucho Marx-like character in Brain Donors a game try at reinventing The Marx Brothers, then tackled his most personal project to date: Mac a blue-collar slice-of-life story which he cowrote (based on his father's life), starred in, and directed. His most recent credits include Fearless (1993), Being Human (1994), Quiz Show (also 1994, terrific as Herb Stempel), Search and Destroy and Clockers (both 1995). His brother, Nick, is also an actor, who stars on the TV drama "NYPD Blue" (1993-).
Copyright © 1994 Leonard Maltin