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October 2, 2012 3PM EST

Q&A with Vincent Piazza

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  • Q

    Please welcome Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza. Vincent, How do you feel about Lucky and Gillian's "relationship?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    I feel like its been an interesting one to explore. She's a great challenge and very exotic for an ambitious young man from the slums of the Lower East Side. I think it may prove to be one of those great formative female relationships in his early years.

  • Q

    You're not quite as mean looking as the real Charlie Lucky (I'd be hard.) Do you think you ought to look meaner for the show?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    I think Luciano a lot of the photographs we get to see of him were later in life and I think the meaness might be mistaken for bitterness and sadness for all the adversity that he faced. I think over time that we'll hopefully get to see that turn, but it's certainly a lot of "mean" to live up to.

  • Q

    What is your favorite BOARDWALK EMPIRE moment?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    It's hard to say while we're still in it. There have been many! Not only the people I've gotten to work with but it's one of those questions I can better answer when it's behind me as opposed to as in front of me.

  • Q

    does lucky have a bigger part this season, seeing hes branched out into the heroine game

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    I think we are getting to see Lucky grow, not just in the heroine trade but a variety of rackets. It's a vast ensemble so I'm excited that we get to see Lucky's story get told.

  • Q

    Playing Lucky Luciano in his early years must be an experience. If you could pick any other time in Luciano's life to portray would it be a) his role in the prostitution rackets, b) his arrest, trial, and prosecution at the hands of Thomas Dewey, or C) the deals he struck with U.S. prosecutors to get his sentence commuted and his consequent re-emergence in Sicily post WW2

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Based on your question, I can see you're also fascinated by the density of Luciano's life. It's truly hard to pick just one. Although there's a wonderful portrayal of him in exile in Francesco Rosi's "Lucky Luciano."

  • Q

    Since you play Luciano- and excluding him from the lineup- who is your favorite gangster of all time?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Great question! I find many of them to be extraordinary figures but if I had to pick just one and I say this without bias, I would say Arnold Rothstein.

  • Q

    During the research of Luciano did you find something out that you didn't expect to find out about a gangster?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    I found more unexpected about the man rather than the occupation. A lot of what we read about the danger and "the business" is one thing but to see someone who's commitment to the lifestyle and the great pains taken to continue it, I found incredibly interesting.

  • Q

    Taking historical accuracy into account, where do you draw the line between Luciano being a man you portray vs. a character you own?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Another great question! I find historical figures in general very tricky because you feel at times that you're serving two masters. Not only the arc and wonderful writing that comes with the show but also the history of a person's life. I feel the writers have been incredibly helpful with me walking that line, but thank you for noting the challenge.

  • Q

    Given Gillian's apparent denial of Jimmy's death and belief he'll come back, is Luciano more concerned with her (in)sanity or the her debt to him as a partner in managing her brothel? And is there an added tension between the two of them given Luciano's association with Nucky, her son's murderer?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    I think questioning anyone's sanity when you're in business with them is critical which also is a great part of the tension that exists between them, both sexual and otherwise. I'm excited to see how the relationship runs it's course.

  • Q

    Vincent - How do you feel your character has evolved over the course of the last 3 seasons?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Well part of that question I can't answer because a big part of this season hasn't aired yet. I'm always excited in any scene where we get to see the shades of potential of this very interesting historical figure. I think we're seeing a very steady rise for the character at this point with a lot of growing pains along the way. He's learning to be in a variety of rooms with a variety of cultures and learning more and more that the rules that apply at the bottom also apply at the top, but it takes time.

  • Q

    What do you usually do prior to a scene to get into character?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    As an actor, I like as much time with the material as possible and given the opportunity, time spent with the other actors in the scene. But that is a rare luxury in working in any TV series. For this particular character it does take a bit of time alone to translate the scene into the POV of the character. (There's also a lot of time reviewing notes from research in history.)

  • Q

    (Not knowing anything about the real Luciano) Why is Meyer the only one it seems that Lucky wouldn't double-cross or kill?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    I love what you're asking. It's not only what makes them a special relationship in terms of the show but a special relationship in history. I really feel that they were true partners in crime, which was rooted in a very tumultuous childhood together. There were a lot of accounts from other gangsters that said being in a room with the two of them at times uncomfortable because they could reading each other's minds. As I mentioned before, they were true soulmates in crime. In my opinion there wouldn't be Lucky without Lanksy and there wouldn't be Lansky without Lucky.

  • Q

    Is it strange to play a character that you already know the outcome of his life? Meaning you know what is in store for you.

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Strange isn't a word I'd use but perhaps challenging. You'd have to find every opportunity to find a person's hangups that a person has to overcome in order for them to suceed. There are certain times that you walk into a scene and genuinely question, "could this be the end?"

  • Q

    Did you play at being gangsters as a kid?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    I certainly love the genre but I don't think I personally would have lasted too long in that world. Hence: Actor :)

  • Q

    If Lucky and Capone were to go head to head during their prime, who do you think would have reign supreme.

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    I think history told us the outcome. With all due respect to Capone, he is certainly the most famous American gangster, but the combination between Lucky and Lansky, I think in the long haul surpassed his achievements.

  • Q

    Was there any anxiety playing a real person rather than a fictional one?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Absolutely. I feel a great responsibility playing a historical figure because whether they were good or bad, I feel like the person deserves a fair shake. Its like being the executor of their estate in some ways. Also, given the number of times Lucky has been portrayed it was a bit scary going back in, even though it is his younger years. He's been glamorized so many times (very well in several instances) and as I dove into the research, I saw a great opportunity to pull back the curtain and focus not only on the spirit of who he was but the raw details of him as well. The writing team have been incredibly gracious and collaborative when it comes to Lucky's history and working it into the show's ensemble and series arc.

  • Q

    What other projects do you have going on right now?

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    Vincent Piazza says:

    Thanks for asking! Boardwalk keeps me busy throughout most of the year but I've been spending alot of my free time writing some stories I've wanted to tell for both television and film, so hopefully they'll grow legs...

  • Q

    Will we get to see the boys and Rothstein's friendship again this season?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    I'm always careful about using the word "friendship" but I think gangsters old and young sometimes make that mistake. The relationship has certainly been tested and seems poised to grow. They both see the mutual value of their relationship.

  • Q

    Will we ever see the rise of Lucky and Meyer to prominence in season 3?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    Well, we're still in the early 20's, so I think there's plenty of room to grow but their progression this season is filled with adversity and danger. There's a lot of potential in both men and what makes them unique is the depth of their relationship. Onwards and upwards!

  • Q

    What kind of research and background study did you do for your wonderful portrayal of Lucky Luciano?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    Thanks for that. Yeah, I had the benefit of six months of prep before the series began shooting. I was able to search the internet quite a bit to collect a number of books, documentaries, films and the FBI files on the man. It was challenging work as the very nature of a gangster is secretive but as I sifted through it, stories and accounts surfaced and I always had to consider the bias of the source (adversary, ally, police, etc). It was fun and interesting work!

  • Q

    Lucky had a few stand-out moments for me throughout the series so far...have you narrowed down any favourite "Lucky" bits so far?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    Thanks for that. Yeah, I always enjoy those scenes that we get to shoot in their historical locations. For instance, in season 2 we had a scene with Masseria, AR and Meyer at John's Restaurant on the Lower East Side, which was one of their haunts back in the 20's. It was special.

  • Q

    How have you and Anatol chosen to approach the Luciano/Lansky partnership, with how close and efficient it was in spite of their lifestyle?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    Anatol and I spent alot of time debriefing each other on our research (as I had with Michael Stuhlbarg) and we found the relationship to be extraordinarily complimentary. Meyer and Lucky had different skill sets that made them a very efficient duo. Above all, Lucky and Meyer shared a trust, bond and common goal that lasted through their lives, which in my opinion is more rare than platinum in this world. They seemed to be soulmates in crime.

  • Q

    Thanks to Vincent Piazza for participating today! Anything else you'd like to add, Vincent?

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    A
    Vincent Piazza says:

    I can't thank you all enough for your interest in the character and above all the show. I really hope we get to tell a great part of Lucky's story along with that of the ensemble. Hope we can do this again! Bon Fortuna!

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