Award-winning actor John Turturro was born on February 28, 1957 in New York City. After graduating from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a degree in drama, he entered the Yale School of Drama, where he eventually left with an MFA degree. He began his acting career in 1980, appearing as an uncredited extra in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed film Raging Bull. From there on, he appeared in numerous movies, exhibiting his versatility and talent in acting.
Before establishing himself as a film actor, Turturro was known for his powerful performances on stage. His role in the off-Broadway production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea earned him an Obie Award in 1984. During the time, he moved up the film ladder, progressing from small roles in films such as Exterminator 2 and Desperately Seeking Susan to bigger roles in To Live and Die in L.A. and Five Corners. His performance from the latter earned the attention of film director Spike Lee, who was so impressed that he cast him in Do the Right Thing. Turturro has since appeared in many more of Lee’s films, including Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Clockers, He Got Game and She Hate Me.
Turturro is also known for his many films with the Coen Brothers. He appeared in several films that the pair directed: Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou? His portrayal of a playwright who aimed to “create a theatre of the common man” but suffers from writer’s block in Barton Fink earned him the best actor award from the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. He has also starred in several films which starred comedian Adam Sandler, including Anger Management, Mr. Deeds and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. His other notable films include Romance and Cigarettes (which he also directed), A Night at the Opera, The Good Shepherd and Transformers, for which he is set to reprise his role in the upcoming sequel.
Turturro also had similar success on television, despite having appeared on the medium less often. Aside from a role in the miniseries The Bronx is Burning and a cameo appearance in the comedy Flight of the Conchords, he is best known as Ambrose Monk, the agoraphobic brother of Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), in three episodes of the comedy Monk. It earned him an Emmy for Best Comedy Guest Actor in 2004.