Alex Wolff: This is Alex Wolff of Long Island Portfolio. I’m here at Branzinos in Melville with actor / comedian Joseph D’Onofrio. Joseph, I’ve seen a couple of the many productions you have been in, but can you tell us some of the roles that you’ve played, and introduce our audience to some of your body of work?
JOSEPH D’ONOFRIO: Most people know me for playing Young Tommy in Good Fellas, or Slick in A Bronx Tale. I also had a recurring role on Are We There Yet. I’ve been in over, I don’t know, 90 to a 100 films and TV roles in my career. I am so very grateful to have had so many opportunities in film and TV.
ALEX: So you are here on Long Island… You’re a New Yorker?
JOSEPH: Yep, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
ALEX: I went to Sheepshead Bay High School and you went to?
JOSEPH: I went to Lafayette.
ALEX: That is one of the reasons we wanted to feature you in the Long Island Portfolio; you’re a local boy. What brought you out to Long Island today, though?
JOSEPH: We’re filming a movie called Christmas Vs. The Walters. It’s going to be the next Christmas classic. Starring Dean Winters, Shawnee Smith, Al Linea, Chris Elliott, Bruce Dern, me, and Jack McGee. It’s actually produced by local people. Rob Simmons and director Peter D’Amato live on the island.
ALEX: I was wondering why you were filming here this time of year, but it’s a Christmas movie. Quite frankly, you got snow and nobody gets snow at Christmas here anymore. So that was really lucky. What’s going on in the future? I see you have a bunch of projects that are in post-production at the moment.
JOSEPH: We are about to start production for season two of a TV show called Gravesend. Currently, season 1 is on Amazon Prime. We did a movie called The Wrong Path, by a native Long Islander, producer Judy San Roman. We did a couple of movies together, she’s great. I also did a movie with Val Kilmer and Lorraine Bracco, The Birthday Cake, being released this summer. But in the immediate future, we have Three Days Rising, Made In Chinatown, and as mentioned, we are getting ready to shoot more episodes of Gravesend.
ALEX: Tell us about Gravesend.
JOSEPH: It’s a great show. It’s about the 1980s, early ’90s, in Brooklyn, New York. So if you were there in that era, you’re going to love the show. Gravesend season 1 is airing on Amazon Prime right now. With actors William DeMeo, me, Paul Ben-Victor, Louis Lombardi, James Russo, and a great cast, that also includes Nick Turtorro and Peter Gaudio (a local Queens guy), it truly feels authentic. The show is unbelievably good, the cinematography, the story.
ALEX: Everybody now knows about it who didn’t know about it before. Our primary audience is Montauk to Manhattan with Brooklyn being very strong. I have already shared with the people on The Brooklyn Open, a Facebook page and group for artists. They’ll be thrilled that there’s something local for them to watch. I love to watch programs where I can say “Hey, I grew up there.”
JOSEPH: Well, right now there’s four half hour episodes, which are excellent. And at the end of the show, something happens. So you’re going to want to see what happens in Episode Five. And my character shows up in episode three and four, I play Johnny Mad Dog Mangano. Johnny will be back in the next season, you have to watch to learn more.
ALEX: I’m not going to ask you if that’s based on any real events. I think you’re in a Spider-Man movie and in Gotham, right? Both are New York centric. So you didn’t mention anything about your comedy as a comedian not just doing stuff on TV. Have you been in the Long Island clubs?
JOSEPH: I never did Long Island. They asked me to do a couple of places in Long Island but I haven’t done them because I’m pretty busy. So that’s why I haven’t really done any shows out here, yet, but I plan on doing them when time allows.
ALEX: Can’t wait to see you live out here. Governor’s Comedy Club is great. I was the DP for an Indie film called Mid-Life Conversation. It was only 18 minutes but really captures the feel of the club.
JOSEPH: You have a lot of great comics out on Long Island, like Anthony Rodia and Chris Roach. Stand-up comedy is so much different than acting. Acting is like, “Action! Cut! You’re done!” Stand-up, you got a different audience every time. And it’s great as you ride the wave of the laugh and tailor your delivery for each audience. You say a joke and people laugh, and it makes you feel so great. It’s an unbelievable rush. I enjoy it so much, I can’t wait to get back on stage and do it again.
ALEX: I hope to be in the audience when you do. Getting back to why you are on Long Island today; when can we expect Christmas Vs The Walters to appear in theaters?
JOSEPH: I think it’s going to come out on Valentine’s Day. I’m only kidding. [laughter] It’s going to be out at Christmas next year.
ALEX: That’s what I told my wife but I wanted to make sure. People still say that… What was the Bruce Willis movie, Die Hard? Is it a Christmas movie? I’m sure Christmas vs The Walters is going to take over. Is there anyone you want to say hello to? Remember, if you skip anybody of the hundreds of people that you should mention, you’re in trouble.
JOSEPH: I want to give a shout-out to my Long Island family, the Kroll’s, I love you guys.
ALEX: Thank you. I really enjoyed talking to you today and am really looking forward to the next season of Gravesend on Amazon Prime and your next releases.
More artists and their stories at https://longislandportfoliomagazine.com/blog/