Michael Imperioli Discusses Playing Spider in Goodfellas

Michael Imperioli appeared on ABC's "Popcorn with Peter Travers" to promote his new book.
Michael Imperioli, Sopranos cast
Tony's crew: The Sopranos cast.

On the show to hype The Perfume Burned His Eyes, Imperioli discussed his "unofficial Mafia induction ceremony," during his first major acting job, playing Spider in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

"It's a very funny story when I get killed in that movie," he said. "In the second scene I had a glass in my hand because I'm a waiter. And I did my own stunt of falling backwards, falling into the bar and hitting the ground. And the glass was real. They didn't have a breakaway for some reason. So two of my fingers got cut really badly."

Imperioli sought medical treatment for his injury right away, appearing in the hospital still made up from the scene, bullet-ridden and bloody.

"I went to the hospital but I had bullet holes in my chest and blood everywhere. So at the hospital in Queens, they think I'm about to die," he said. "I think they think it's some drug hit. And I'm trying to explain to the people how it's my hand and I'm OK. And they think I'm delirious. They don't know what's going on. They bring me in on a gurney."

Confusion broke out, until hospital workers finally examined him.

“They see all the squibbing and the wires and it's like, 'Oh, it's you,'" he said, adding that a few hours later workers stitched up his hand and he was on his way.

Imperioli now looks at that moment as his "Mafia induction" ceremony.

"When you get made into the Mafia, they cut, prick your finger,” Imperioli, 52, explained. ”And they take the blood and put it on the picture of a saint. Then they burn it. That's the Mafia induction ceremony. I always said I have these scars on my finger, my fingers were cut, the blood came out on a Martin Scorsese gangster movie with Robert De Niro. That was the ceremony."

Michael Imperioli's book "The Perfume Burned His Eyes," was released April 3, 2018, published by Akashic Books.

Imperioli’s literary debut is a coming-of-age story set in 1970s New York City, about a teenage boy befriending musician Lou Reed. It is not a true story, but Imperioli and Reed did share an email friendship that would last until Reed’s death.

Michael Imperioli, during an appearance on ABC's Popcorn with Peter Travers.
 Michael Imperioli, during an appearance on ABC's Popcorn with Peter Travers.

Imperioli said he channeled his writing style along the lines of “Sopranos” creator and writer David Chase.

“If you really look at how he wrote and what the 'Sopranos' was about, there are very specifically drawn details,” he said. “Everything has a reason and a specificity. And I was grateful that I worked with him to get that point instilled in me.”