John Turturro Biography

John Turturro photo

Born: February 28, 1957


Date of Birth: February 28, 1957

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, Turturro developed a dual passion for basketball and boxing; his earliest career ambition was to become a professional athlete. When he ended up in bed for several months recuperating from a severely broken leg, however, he passed the time by making scrapbooks devoted to the life histories and film reviews of his favorite actors.

The work inspired him to become a graduate of the prestigious Yale School of Drama. Turturro became a stage actor before landing a role in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull at the age of 23.

Since then he has gone on to work with the creme-de-la-creme of directors, including Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Robert Redford and the Coen brothers. Turturro finally caught the attention of critics—and audiences—with his ultra-creepy portrayal of a neighborhood nut fixated on Jodie Foster in the urban comedy/drama Five Corners (1987). 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.

In 1992 he played a Groucho Marx-like character in Brain Donors, a game try at reinventing The Marx Brothers, and then decided to take on a personal project. Based on the life of his father, Mac was a blue-collar slice-of-life story in which Turturro debuted as both writer and director, in addition to starring in the film.

Though Mac won Turturro a Best New Director award at Cannes, the film was largely ignored by American audiences. He delivered another shining performance with his portrayal of Herb Stempel in Quiz Show (1994), but in the meantime his thoroughly excellent lead performances in Barton Fink (1991) and Box of Moonlight (1996) once again fell into the shadows. However, He continues to work steadily in supporting roles and earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries" for Monday Night Mayhem (2002).

Married to actress Katherine Borowitz since 1985, the two live in Brooklyn with their sons, Amedeo and Diego.

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