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From an infamous mafia hit man going head to head with Tony Soprano, to a corrupt mayor with a good heart, and a union lobbyist who duels with Kevin Spacey, Al Sapienza has brought to life some of the most memorable characters in film and television today. With a career spanning over thirty years, Sapienza has made a name for himself in the entertainment business for not only his undeniable talent to create unforgettable characters, but also his commitment to hard work and dedication with each project he is working on.
Sapienza was most recently seen with a supporting role in TAKEN 3 for Twentieth Century Fox Films opposite Liam Neeson [released January 9, 2015]. He also co-starred in the SyFy miniseries “Ascension” opposite Tricia Helfer [December 2014].
In 2013, Sapienza can be seen starring as Marty Spinella in the hit Netflix original series “House of Cards.” As the head union lobbyist for teachers, Marty challenges U.S. Representative Frank J. Underwood [Kevin Spacey] on numerous occasions, including on live TV, making it difficult for Underwood to accomplish various goals throughout his political scheming. Sapienza can also be seen recurring on CBS' hit series “Person of Interest” as homicide detective Raymond Terney, opposite Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, and Michael Emerson. On the film front, Sapienza has several high profile projects in the works including supporting roles in Walt Disney Pictures' MILLION DOLLAR ARM opposite Jon Hamm and Alan Arkin  and Warner Bros' GODZILLA . Independent film projects are also a passion of Sapienza's, currently in production he has OMPHALOS [Intrinsic Value Films], 9 FULL MOONS [directed and written by Tomer Almagor], LUCKY N#MBER [36films], SEPARATION [Birchmount Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures], and he recently starred in A DARK TRUTH for Magnolia Pictures  opposite Forest Whitaker, Eva Longoria, and Kevin Durand.
Born and raised in New York, Sapienza always had a love for entertaining, whether it be playing music, performing in theatre, or acting. At the age of eight he started playing drums, and while attending New York University he made extra money for school drumming behind various cabaret acts in Greenwich Village. While going to college he decided to enroll in a few outside acting classes, which his sister Joanne helped fund. It was through these classes that he met “Murray the K,” who helped him land the part of Ringo in the Broadway show Beatlemania. After a solid run with the show, Sapienza made the big move to Los Angeles, to study acting and purse a career in television.
Since then, Sapienza has been seen on some of the biggest shows on television, such as FOX's “24,” “Prison Break,” and “Fringe,” NBC's “Law & Order,” Showtime's “Brotherhood,” and CBS‘ “NCIS.” He may be best known however, for his recurring role from 1999-2004 as violent and depraved hit man Mikey Palmice on what has been called one of the best television series of all time, “The Sopranos” on HBO. Sapienza has also juggled a film career while also working in TV, appearing in over 80 films since he got his start in the late eighties.
“ No matter what kind of person I am playing, I always keep in mind that every character is me, and it is my job to live and breathe that part ,”
says Sapienza, whose vast array of films include "Lethal Weapon 4", "Frankie and Johnny", "Free Willy 2" "Phoenix" and the much anticipated "Thick as Thieves" with Alec Baldwin.
“In my opinion the great actors of today...Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman..all share a common quality, they bring the uniqueness of themselves to every role. To be a success as an actor, you have to bring everything you can of yourself, all the little nuances that make you special, into the life you are portraying. The most important thing an actor must bring to a role is his or her own originality ."
Sapienza's overall philosophy to his chosen art form has not changed much since he graduated from New York University.
“It's all about the love and need of self-expression,” he adds. “I looked at my life and thought, what profession would be the most fun? What would challenge me? Law? Politics? Being a prosecutor? I choose acting because...I thought it would be fascinating, you would be able to do just about anything, and wear many peoples shoes on a regular basis. But, you have to be committed, really committed. Unless you give 100% at all times, both while working and doing all you need to get the next role, it's not going to work.”
Sapienza's schedule has been in overdrive. Prior to beginning production on "The Sopranos" (starring with James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco and Nancy Marchand), he completed work on three upcoming independent features. He has the second lead in "Silicon Towers", a cautionary tale about a Bill Gates-like magnate, opposite Brian Dennehy and Daniel Baldwin. He played Michael Madsen's sidekick in the action thriller "Supreme Sanction" and a crooked cop in the Alec Baldwin film "Thick as Thieves".
“For me, the key to pulling off this mixed bag of roles is in the research,” says Sapienza.
“If you play a cop, go out and meet, observe and study cops. Watch them work, read books, watch documentaries, live the life. The technical knowledge aquired through research, along with bringing who you are to every role, makes it feel almost real."
He signed a distribution deal for his first venture as producer, on the low budget art house film "The Gifted", about two musical prodigy brothers torn by the struggle to overcome the temptations of inner city street life. Sapienza portrayed Nick Fontaine, the older brother who squanders his talent before achieving ultimate redemption.
“I was so busy trying to prove to myself I could be a great actor, that I overlooked my original goal-to do movies,” Don't get me wrong, I love theatre, and I'm sure I'll do it again soon, It's just that I did it for years. I wish I pursued more film right away. Working with the right director, you can learn just as much on a set as you can performing on stage.”
As his resume attests, Sapienza-who divides his time between homes in Los Angeles and Greenwich Village, NYC--feels comfortable in almost anyone's skin. Even that of a sociopathic hit man, as he played on "The Sopranos",
“I never play a bad guy as a bad guy, because this kind of character always believed he is doing the right, noble thing. Stanislavsky once said that if you can kill a fly, you can play Othello. As an actor, my job is to understand both the humor in life as well as the pain, and bring those emotions across. A good artist has a strong sense of self, and a voice which he dares to share with his fellow man, hopefully bringing a positive message across."
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