After spending 86 episodes in the shoes of THE SOPRANOS’ Christopher Moltisanti, just how does actor Michael Imperioli top a role that will very likely go down as the most memorable of his career?
“To think that you’re going to need to do something better than that, a bigger role, be the lead of a show and make more money to be successful, that’s the mistake. If you think that you’re dead,” explained Imperioli during our recent visit to the set of DETROIT 1-8-7. “I think the best thing to do is find another project, be it a movie, a play or a TV show and go with your gut. Something interesting that turns you on.”
Which for Imperioli just so happened to be the lead role on a freshman ABC cop drama. Which naturally raised the question, just what attracted him to another network series following his short-lived stint on ABC’s LIFE ON MARS?
“I thought the pilot script was very smart, and more importantly, the characters all had individual voices, which often on cop shows you don’t get,” said the actor. “Procedural shows are well done and the stories are compelling but a lot of times the lead characters don’t get to do a lot beside solving crime. You don’t get to see their personality, their methods, their pain, their struggles and things like that. Yet that was all in the pilot. Fitch in particularly was very specific, very odd and very quirky.”
And, Imperioli neglected to mention, very secretive.
Suffice to say, the most interesting thing about his small screen alter-ego may in fact be how little those both in front and behind the camera know about his enigmatic Detective. What exactly were the mysterious circumstances that brought the seasoned New York Police Officer to Detroit?
Well, Despite my seasoned interrogation techniques (read: asking very nicely), the soft-spoken actor isn’t talking. Except to admit that he recently learned the truth about why his character moved to the Motor City, “I don’t completely know everything but now it’s starting to come together. I will say this, it was surprising.”
And if anyone can speak to surprises on television, it’s an actor who years later still has fans scratching their head over the ending to his previous two shows.
“I really liked the ending to LIFE ON MARS. While it’s never good when you get cancelled prematurely, it was nice that the writers knew we were done so they were able to write an ending,” explained Imperioli. “I thought it was just a bizarre and creative way to end the show. There were things that kind of alluded to it all the way through and it kind of tied it all up for me. I thought it was really smart. But I also loved THE SOPRANOS ending and lots of people hated that so maybe I’m the wrong guy to talk to.”
Catch brand new episodes of DETROIT 1-8-7 Tuesday nights at 10PM on ABC