John Turturro

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John Turturro
John Turturro 2017.jpg
Turturro in May 2017
John Michael Turturro

(1957-02-28) February 28, 1957 (age 64)
  • United States
  • Italy
Alma mater
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • writer
Years active1980–present
Katherine Borowitz
(m. 1985)

John Michael Turturro (/tərˈtʊər/;[1] born February 28, 1957) is an American actor, director, producer and writer. He is known for his contributions to the independent film movement. He has appeared in over sixty feature films and has worked frequently with the Coen brothers, Adam Sandler, and Spike Lee. He began his acting career on-screen in the early 1980s, and received early critical recognition with the independent film Five Corners (1987). Turturro's mainstream breakthrough came with Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) and the Coens' Miller's Crossing (1990) and Barton Fink (1991), for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. His subsequent roles included Herb Stempel in Quiz Show (1994), Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski (1998) and The Jesus Rolls (2020), Pete in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Seymour Simmons in the Transformers film series and is set to play Carmine Falcone in The Batman. In 2016, in a lead role, he portrayed a lawyer in the HBO miniseries The Night Of; and had a recurring role in the miniseries The Plot Against America in 2020.

An Emmy Award winner, Turturro has also been nominated for four Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Independent Spirit Awards. He directed Mac (1992), which won the Golden Camera Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Illuminata (1998), and Romance and Cigarettes (2005).

Early life[edit]

John Turturro was born on February 28, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Katherine Florence (Incerella) and Nicholas Turturro. His mother was born in the U.S., to Italian parents with roots in Sicily, and was an amateur jazz singer, who had worked in a naval yard during World War II.[2][3][4] His father had emigrated at age six from Giovinazzo, Italy to the United States, and later worked as a carpenter and construction worker before joining the U.S. Navy.

Turturro was raised a Roman Catholic and moved to the Rosedale section of Queens, New York with his family, when he was 6.[5] He majored in Theatre Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and completed his MFA at the Yale School of Drama.


Turturro's first film appearance was a non-speaking extra role in Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed Raging Bull (1980).[6] He created the title role of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at the Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in 1983. He repeated it the following year Off-Broadway and won an Obie Award. Turturro had a notable supporting role in William Friedkin's action film To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), as the henchman of the villainous counterfeiter played by Willem Dafoe.

Spike Lee liked Turturro's performance in Five Corners (1987) so much that he cast him in Do the Right Thing (1989). This movie was the first of a long-standing collaboration between the director and Turturro, which includes work together on a total of nine films—more than any other actor in the Lee oeuvre[7]—including Mo' Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), Clockers (1995), Girl 6 (1996), He Got Game (1998), Summer of Sam (1999), She Hate Me (2004), and Miracle at St. Anna (2008).[8]

Turturro has appeared in both comedy and drama films, and engaged in an extended collaboration with the Coen Brothers—he appeared in their films Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991, in the lead role), The Big Lebowski (1998), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). Turturro has also appeared in several of Adam Sandler's movies, such as Mr. Deeds (2002) and You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008). He played a severely disturbed patient of Jack Nicholson's character in the comedy Anger Management and played Johnny Depp's character's antagonist in Secret Window.[8]

Turturro hosted Saturday Night Live in 1994, where he spoofed his then-recently made film, Quiz Show, being told he was ineligible to host unless he answered questions in a booth and if he failed, the honor of hosting would go to Joey Buttafuoco, who was actually backstage to witness Turturro's test. He won an Emmy award for his portrayal of Adrian Monk's brother Ambrose in the USA Network series Monk, and reprised the role on numerous occasions. He has also been nominated and won many awards from film organizations such as Screen Actors Guild, Cannes Film Festival, Golden Globes and others.[8]

Turturro produced and directed, as well as acted in, the film Illuminata (1999), which also starred his wife, actress Katherine Borowitz. He wrote and directed the film Romance and Cigarettes (2005). In 2006 he appeared in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd, and as the Sector 7 agent Seymour Simmons in four films of the Transformers live-action series. In 2010, he directed (and had cameo on-screen appearances in) Passione, which chronicles the rich musical heritage of Naples, Italy.[citation needed]

His stage directorial debut was in October 2011, with the Broadway play Relatively Speaking, in which he guided an ensemble of veteran actors in a production of three comedic one-act plays, written by Elaine May, Woody Allen and Ethan Coen. The cast included Julie Kavner, Marlo Thomas, Mark Linn-Baker and Steve Guttenberg.[7]

Turturro's fifth directorial film Fading Gigolo premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in mid-September 2013. Turturro also acts in the film alongside Woody Allen, who plays a novice pimp overseeing the sex work of Turturro's character. During a September 2013 interview, Turturro expressed his intention to draw parallels between sex work and acting, explaining that the latter is a "service business" in which actors are "acting out people's wishes or fantasies".[6] In March 2014, Turturro received the Career Achievement tribute and award at the 31st Edition of the Miami International Film Festival at the Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami.[citation needed] Turturro starred in the 2016 miniseries The Night Of, garnering a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. In 2019 Turturro played William of Baskerville in a television adaptation of Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose.

Personal life[edit]

Turturro's brother is actor Nicholas Turturro. Abstract painter Ralph Turturro, composer and film director Richard Termini, and actress Aida Turturro are his cousins.[9] He has two sons: Amedeo (born 1990) and Diego (born 2000), with his wife, actress Katherine Borowitz, who moved on to a social work career in 2016. [5]

John Turturro participates as a member of the Jury for the New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF), which is dedicated to screening films for children between the ages of 3 and 18.[10] Turturro holds dual Italian and American citizenship as of January 2011.[11]

He has lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York since 1988.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Raging Bull Man At Table Uncredited
1984 The Flamingo Kid Ted From Pinky's
1985 Desperately Seeking Susan Ray
To Live and Die in L.A. Carl Cody
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters Writer
The Color of Money Julian
Gung Ho Willie
Off Beat Neil Pepper
1987 Five Corners Heinz Zabantino
The Sicilian Pisciotta
1989 Do the Right Thing Pino
1990 Catchfire Pinella
State of Grace Detective Nick Richardson
Mo' Better Blues 'Moe' Flatbush
Miller's Crossing Bernie 'The Shamata Kid' Bernbaum
1991 Men of Respect Mike Battaglia
Jungle Fever Paulie Carbone
Barton Fink Barton Fink
1992 Mac Niccolò Vitelli Also director and writer
Brain Donors Roland T. Flakfizer
1993 Being Human Lucinnius
Fearless Bill Pearlman
1994 Quiz Show Herb Stempel
The Search for One-eye Jimmy Disco Bean
1995 Search and Destroy Ron
Unstrung Heroes Sidney Lidz
Clockers Detective Larry Mazilla
1996 Girl 6 Murray
Box of Moonlight Al Fountain
Grace of My Heart Joel Milner
1997 Lesser Prophets Leon
The Truce Primo Levi
1998 Illuminata Tuccio Also director, writer and producer
Rounders Joey Knish
He Got Game Billy Sunday
OK Garage Jonny
The Big Lebowski Jesus Quintana
Animals with the Tollkeeper Tuxedo Man
1999 Summer of Sam Harvey The Dog (voice)
Cradle Will Rock Aldo Silvana
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? Pete
The Man Who Cried Dante Dominio
Company Man Crocker Johnson
Two Thousand and None Benjamin Kasparian
The Luzhin Defence Alexander Luzhin
2001 Monkeybone Monkeybone (voice)
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Walker
2002 Collateral Damage Sean Armstrong
Mr. Deeds Emilio Lopez
2003 Fear X Harry
Anger Management Chuck
Opopomoz John Voice
2004 Secret Passage Paolo Zane
Secret Window John Shooter
She Hate Me Don Angelo Bonasera
2BPerfectlyHonest[13] Sal / Roberto
2005 Romance and Cigarettes Male Dancer & Singer Also director, writer and producer
The Moon and the Son Son (voice) Short film
2006 The Good Shepherd Ray Brocco
A Few Days in September William Pound
2007 Transformers Agent Seymour Simmons
Margot at the Wedding Jim
Slipstream Harvey Brickman
Joulutarina Iisakki English dub
2008 What Just Happened Dick Bell
You Don't Mess With The Zohan Fatoush 'The Phantom' Hakbarah
Miracle at St. Anna Detective Antonio 'Tony' Ricci
2009 The Taking of Pelham 123 Lieutenant Vincent Camonetti
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Seymour Simmons
Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy Himself Documentary
Also writer and executive producer
2010 Passione Himself / Narrator Documentary
Also director and co-writer
The Nutcracker in 3D The Rat King
2011 Cars 2 Francesco Bernoulli (voice)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Seymour Simmons
Somewhere Tonight Leroy
2013 Fading Gigolo Fioravante Also director and writer
Gods Behaving Badly Hades
2014 God's Pocket Arthur 'Bird' Capezio
Exodus: Gods and Kings Seti I
Rio, I Love You Homem Segment "Quando não há Mais Amor"
Also director and writer
2015 Mia madre Barry Huggins
Partly Cloudy with Sunny Spells Lombelli
The Ridiculous 6 Abner Doubleday
2016 Hands of Stone Frankie Carbo
2017 Landline Alan Jacobs
Hair John Turturro Short film
Also director and writer
Transformers: The Last Knight Seymour Simmons
2018 Gloria Bell Arnold
2019 The True Adventures of Wolfboy Mr. Silk
The Jesus Rolls Jesus Quintana Also director and writer[14]
2022 Pinocchio Master Cherry (voice) Filming
The Batman Carmine Falcone Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Miami Vice David Traynor Episode: "Rites of Passage"
1988 The Fortunate Pilgrim Larry 3 episodes
1994 Saturday Night Live Himself / Host Episode: "John Turturro/Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers"
1995 Sugartime Sam Giancana Television film
2001 Biography Narrator 2 episodes
2002 Monday Night Mayhem Howard Cosell Television film
Frasier Grant (voice) Episode: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
2004–08 Monk Ambrose Monk 3 episodes
2007 The Bronx Is Burning Billy Martin 8 episodes
Flight of the Conchords Credits Cop Episode: "The Actor"
2016 The New Yorker Presents Patient Episode: "#1.8"
The Night Of John Stone 8 episodes
2017 Difficult People 'Dusty' Episode: "Bernie and Blythe"
2019 The Name of the Rose William of Baskerville 8 episodes; also writer and executive producer
Green Eggs and Ham Goat (voice) 6 episodes
2020 The Plot Against America Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf 6 episodes
TBA Severance Irving Main role, upcoming series[15]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2011 Cars 2 Francesco Bernoulli


Year Title Voice role Notes
2007 World War Z Serosha Garcia Alvarez


Year Title Role Venue Ref.
1998 Waiting for Godot Estragon Classic Stage Company, Off-Broadway [16]
2003 Life x 3 Henry Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway
2007 A Spanish Play Director Classic Stage Company, Off-Broadway
2011 The Cherry Orchard Yermolai Alekaseyevich Lopakhin Classic Stage Company, Off-Broadway
2011–12 Relatively Speaking Director Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
2013 The Master Builder Halvard Solness Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn
2015 Zorba! Zorba New York City Center, Concert Staging

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1989 Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Actor Five Corners Nominated
1990 New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Miller's Crossing Nominated
1991 National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Miller's Crossing Nominated
1991 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Barton Fink Won
1991 Gotham Awards Best Actor Himself Won
1992 Sundance Film Festival Vision Award Himself Won
1992 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actor Barton Fink Nominated
1992 Cannes Film Festival Caméra d'Or Mac Won
1994 Independent Spirit Award Best First Feature Mac Nominated
Best Director Mac Nominated
1995 Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actor Quiz Show Nominated
1995 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Quiz Show Nominated
1995 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor Quiz Show Nominated
1998 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Illuminata Nominated
1998 Independent Spirit Award Best Male Box of Moonlight Nominated
2003 Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie Monday Night Mayhem Nominated
2004 Primetime Emmy Award Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Monk: "Mr. Monk and the Three Pies" Won
2005 Drama Desk Award Best Actor in a Play The Sound of Naples Nominated [17]
2005 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Romance and Cigarettes Nominated
2007 Berlin Film Festival Silver Berlin Bear The Good Shepherd Won
2007 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Performance Margot at the Wedding Nominated
2010 Venice Film Festival Award of the City of Rome Passione Won
2017 Primetime Emmy Award Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie The Night Of Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Miniseries or TV Movie The Night Of Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie The Night Of Nominated
2021 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries The Plot Against America Nominated


  1. ^ "John Turturro's 'Passione': Going Behind the Lens With "The Big Lebowski" Actor Turned Director" on YouTube
  2. ^ "TURTURRO BURNS THROUGH THREE VERSIONS OF REALITY IN 'LIFE (X) 3'". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. June 1, 2003. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  3. ^ "John Turturro Biography - Yahoo! Movies". February 28, 1957. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  4. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, October 31, 2017
  5. ^ a b Pfefferman, Naomi (April 19, 1998). "Far Beyond Tears". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Shoard, Catherine (September 12, 2013). "John Turturro on nuns, Woody Allen and middle-aged sex". The Guardian. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Akers, W.M. (September 19, 2011). "The Long and the Short of It". The New York Observer -Fall Arts Preview.
  8. ^ a b c John Turturro at IMDb
  9. ^ "Ralph Turturro". Bergen Museum of Art and Science. 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  10. ^ "NYICFF Jury". Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  11. ^ "John Turturro and His New Italian Passport". YouTube. January 27, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  12. ^ Hettich, Colter (April 25, 2017). "John Turturro talks about Brooklyn's past and future while riding the B train". AM NY. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Scheib, Ronnie (May 25, 2004). "Review: '2B Perfectly Honest'". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  14. ^ "'Big Lebowski' Spinoff 'Going Places' Already Shooting, with John Turturro Directing and Starring as The Jesus". August 17, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  15. ^ ‘Severance’: John Turturro To Star In Apple Drama Series
  16. ^ "John Turturro". Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  17. ^ "John Turturro". Playbill. Retrieved August 31, 2021.

External links[edit]