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In season four of The Sopranos we were introduced to Ray Abruzzo as character, Carmine Lupertazzi, Jr, the son of the dearly departed Carmine Luptazzi (the head of the New York Mafia). His first appearance was in the fourth season episode "Calling All Cars". This was when Tony Soprano travels to Florida to speak directly with Little Carmine about the New York split with the HUD scam they have going on with Senator Zellman. Since that first appearance on the show, Ray has been back several times, and now in season 6, his role is expanding, where in the episode, "Luxury Lounge" where he travels with Christopher Moltisanti to California.

What day is your birthday?

August 12, 19 something....

Where were you born?

I was born in Astoria , Queens . Not far from Silvercup Studios

Are you Italian, and where do you trace your Italian roots?

All four of my grandparents came here from Sicily . My father’s parents were from Sciacca (my grandfather went back and died there) and my mother’s parents were from Palermo .

What was it like growing up in an Italian neighborhood?

I grew up in a mixed neighborhood in Queens . Went to Resurrection-Ascension grammar school, where you were either Irish or Italian.

Do you speak Italian or any other language?

Parlo un po italiano. I want to learn to speak fluently. That is one of my dreams. Maybe I should practice more, huh?

Ray Abruzzo

How did you originally get involved with being an actor?

Freshman year in HS I auditioned for “Inherit the Wind” and got the part. From the moment the play started I knew!! Besides all of the best looking girls in the school where in the Drama Club. I then did plays every summer with a group we started; The Middle Village Summer Theater Workshop… Very ambitious for a bunch of high school kids. I learned a lot those summers and of course all of the best looking girls around were in those plays.

You’re originally from the east coast, what foods do you miss the most, like Taylor’s Ham and NY thin crust pizza.

I have lived in LA for quite a while and I do miss NY food, especially good thin pizza.

You’ve been active in Los Angeles Theater over the years. What aspect of theater acting do you find the most helpful in screen acting?

Acting on TV is very fragmented, you shoot short scenes. In theater, you may be on stage for 90 minutes straight. You learn concentration, and develop skills useful when shooting for the screen. If you can memorize a full play, a 3 page scene on TV is a breeze. But it is all about being in the moment, being honest and truthful, be it TV, film or stage.

Do you have any theater work in the near future?

I hope to be doing a play soon, (actually waiting to hear about one now) I’ll keep you posted

What has been your most challenging role on screen?

I played a bartender in an episode of NYPD Blue that presented a challenge. The guy wasn’t very bright (not as smart as Little Carmine) and David Milch presented me with a new scene last minute. It was a rambling monologue that seemed to make no sense when I first read it, but I let the writing and the words do the work and it turned out pretty well. The writing is always the key.

Do you prefer Hollywood productions over Indies or vice versa, why?

I love to work, stage, screen, indy doesn’t matter. I love the work.

Ray Abruzzo and Emma Ray

You were part of the cast of “Dynasty”, Fallon’s love interest, Sgt. Zorelli. Were you part of the “Dynasty reunion” which aired in 1991? Has that television series ever been rerun in syndication?

I was flipping thru the channels last week and saw myself in a rerun of Dynasty on Soap network. Lots of hair!!!! Lots of love scenes.

You were the head writer for the Nicolodeon television series, “Weinerville” which IMDB describes as “A mostly one man show in which a guy (Marc Weiner) interacted with his puppet selves (his head on the body of puppets) to solve their silly problems in a cardboard town. Included games with audience participation.”

The program got really good ratings and reviews. Why wasn’t it picked up for more seasons (I did read it aired in England with the same response)

It was a difficult show to do because it basically was a one man show, although we all pitched in and did some voices and puppets. We would shoot 3 or 4 shows a day with a live audience. Very stressful!!!

How do you think other people would describe you?

You should ask other people that question! I’d love to know. Maybe not.

What other unusual jobs have you held in the past?

  I worked in a liquor store on 3 rd Ave and 15 Street for years. But unusual, hmmm, I played a female gorilla named Pauline in a NY City Opera Production called TOY SHOP

Tell us something that people don’t know about you?

I think I just did. (see above)

Do you have any pets?  

Not at the moment. I had a wonderful dog that Emma Samms (Fallon from Dynasty) found in New Orleans years ago. The dog was 6 months old had a crushed hip, broken leg and a pellet in her head. Emma asked me to please pick up the dog at LAX and keep her for a few days. 15 years later…

Ray Abruzzo kayaking with the dolphins

What hobbies do you pursue in your free time?

I enjoy ocean kayaking and often have been joined by dolphin for hours at a time.

What are your favorite websites?

Salon.com, AirAmerica, Craiglist, and Sopranosue. (too obvious?)

What charities are you involved with?

I admire the work of the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I do what I can for them. I am also on the board for Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF.ORG). It is an organization that pursues peace thru cultural exchange. I am also a sucker for anyone working for the environment. And just today I thought that I would like to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I think I will. I’ll keep you posted. Plus I donate blood to Red Cross on a regular basis.

What are your favorite foods?

You should get the book SHUT UP AND EAT. Lots of great food in there. I love Italian, very comforting to me. And I am a haagen daz junkie. That is my big weakness.

Ray Abruzzo kayaking with the dolphins on the deserted island

You’re still on a deserted island; with no hope of a rescue. You are only allowed one of your favorite food dishes, one music cd and one piece of clothing, what would be your choices?

My grandmother’s risotto, Miles Davis KIND OF BLUE, maybe a hat.

If there was any vehicle you could own, which one would it be?

I just bought a Toyota Prius. It’s a hybrid. I am very happy with it and with gas prices hitting 4 bucks a gallon!!! It is my first choice. Might not be flashy but it has very low emissions and great mileage so…

If you died and you could have your choice of coming back as something else, someone else, or any type of animal, what would be your choice?

A Dolphin. They really seem to have figured it out.

How do you feel about being a part of the huge success of The Sopranos?

I came on the show late, season 4. It is an amazing experience. It will be part of TV history and just to be involved is a wonderful thing. It still hasn’t sunk in that I am on it. It feels surreal

Ray Abruzzo, Frank Vincent and Michael Balducco
- photo courtesy of Jared Roehrig

It seems as if everyone from The Sopranos is writing a book. Do you or would you plan on doing one in the future?

I do like to write, but if I did it wouldn’t be a Soprano related book. Maybe a novel or political humor.

In the episode, “Luxury Lounge”, Christopher and your character Carmine Lupertazzi, Jr. go to Los Angeles to sell Chris’ script, to a Hollywood big wig, what was it like working with “him”?

That is one the amazing things about this business. The fact that I can walk on a set and rehearse a scene with Sir Ben Kinglsey!!! A kid from Queens and GANDI!!!! He was great to work with. He really made Michael and me feel like we were all just actors working together. And Lauren Bacall…wow. I fell in love with her the first time I saw TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. She was 19 at the time and working opposite Humphrey Bogart. She was so strong and beautiful.

Was this scene filmed on the east coast or west coast?

We shot that at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica CA . We had a blast.

What was one of your favorite moments on the set of The Sopranos?

Well, the Sir Ben Kingsley moment is a good one. But one of my first scenes was a sit down with Tony down in Miami . That was amazing. I had never met Jim and he is a powerful presence. But I enjoy just sitting around and listening to these guys. I feel like a spectator. I just soak it all in. Always great stories being told and Stevie Van Zandt is a wonderful guy to be around. Always entertaining, warm and funny.

What are some of your upcoming projects that we can look forward to seeing?

If I only knew! Ah the actor’s life! Like I said, maybe a play. I’ll let you know

 April, 21, 2006

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