A true New Yorker through and through, Michael Rapaport, the son of a radio program manager, may have moved to Los Angeles to try stand-up comedy following high school graduation (which came after a series of expulsions), but he never lost, forgot nor deserted his roots. It's embedded in his work and is a major part of his low-keyed charm and ongoing appeal. His early idols were also New Yorkers (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, etc.). He toiled only briefly in L.A. Within a short amount of time Michael moved from the live comedy stage to working in front of a camera. The two developed an immediate rapport. A guest spot on the TV series "China Beach" (1988) led to a starring role in the quirky interracial indie Zebrahead (1992), which clinched it for him. This, in turn, led to a string of standout parts in films, such as Christian Slater's pal in True Romance (1993), an edgy collegiate-turned-skinhead in Higher Learning (1995) and a sympathetic none-too-bright boxer in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), all enabling him to build up a higher profile. In later years he managed to show his ease at offbeat comedy, demonstrating a kid-like, goofy charm as Lisa Kudrow's cop boyfriend for a few episodes on "Friends" (1994) and as teacher Danny Hanson on "Boston Public" (2000). Lately he has formed his own production company, Release Entertainment, in search of that one big breakout role that could nab top stardom for him. In 2000 Michael's writer/girlfriend Nicole Beatty bore him a son. They married that same year.IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / email@example.com
|Nichole Beattie||(15 January 2000 - present) (filed for divorce) 2 children|
Thick old-school New York accent
Pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment of Lili Taylor. Ordered to stay away from her and get counseling for a year. [May 1998]
Lives in New York.
As a youngster, he was a die-hard fan of Eddie Murphy and used to dress up like him in gold chains and white suits. He later got to work with his idol in the film Metro (1997) and on Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001).
With his height (6' 4"), he once entertained the thought of being a basketball player.
Has a son named Julian Ali, born in 2000.
I don't think about it as being bumped up, but as being bumped forward. I'm not interested in climbing up the ladder. From 'up' you can come 'down.' I just want 'forward.'
Making a character human is important...not likable or unlikable...just well- rounded.
Sometimes people think I'm dumber than I am because of the characters that I play. But it takes a genius to play a fool.
I'm always very impressed and humbled that I've been able to work with the kind of people that I've been able to work with. But, when I'm working with them I leave the fan at home. I come to work as a professional. I think if you go into something looking at people as better than you, if you give people too much respect, I don't think it benefits you or them.
(2011, on being a part of Frank Zappa's Civilization, Phaze III) I used to date Moon Zappa. She's a good friend of mine still. He used to get a kick out of the way I used to speak, so he was like, "Yo, you wanna come down there and talk on this album?" We went down there and I talked on the album, and I felt like it was cool 'cause he was Frank Zappa, and I was Mike Rappa. That's what we used to joke. I used to always get a kick out of him, and I think he used to get a kick out of me.
(2011, on Zebrahead) Changed my life. Changed my life in every single way. Gave me the confidence and validation that I could be an actor. It took my virginity.
(2011, on Poetic Justice) The only reason I did that movie, because it was a small part: I was a huge fan of Boyz N The Hood, but I was an enormously big fan at the time of Tupac, and I knew how special he was. I have one scene that, if you blink you'll miss me, but I wanted to meet him, and I wanted to work with John Singleton, who I worked with again on Higher Learning. And I have a Polaroid picture of me and Tupac.
(2011, on Higher Learning) Playing that part was very fulfilling, very challenging. I had my youthful character-actor aspirations. The craziest thing about playing the character of Remy is that I've been embraced more by the hip-hop community for that movie than for anything I've ever done. By far. I think because the character is so honest. I'm really proud of that performance. I felt it was a well-rounded performance, and it was obviously very different from anything I had done. It was more extreme than anything I had done. It was so by far the furthest away from me aesthetically. Emotionally I related to the character, the emotions of the character, which I think was why I was able to do it. But the nature, the disposition of the character was so far away. And I'm really proud of it. There's not one day that goes by where someone doesn't call me Remy from Higher Learning. Every day at least one person says that to me...I knew it was a great opportunity and I was coming in with guns blazing. I put my whole everything into it. I felt confident I wasn't gonna mess that up. I was a little concerned that when I walked around town people would be thinking that I was really like that. But like I said, I've been embraced by all sorts of people who I never thought would... They love that character. Love him. I don't know why.
(2011, on True Romance) It's the only movie I ever did that I knew was gonna be great. Everybody knew going into it, the script was so good, and you'd hear, "Oh Christopher Walken's gonna be in it now! Oh shit! James Gandolfini's gonna be in it!" Well James Gandolfini was a nobody. Me and him were nobodies. But like, "Gary Oldman's gonna be in it! Oh shit! Val Kilmer's gonna be in it! Oh shit!" The script was just so good, and there was such a buzz on it, and Quentin Tarantino was so hot and unique at the time, not that he's not now. But it was like, this unraveling of this special guy. I knew it was gonna be a good movie. And creatively, Tony Scott embraced me and gave me the trust for me to go forward and bring things to the character. 'Cause I would ask him, "Hey can I try this?" And he'd be like, "Yeah, that's fine." "Can I do this?" "No that sucks." But he would listen to everything that I asked, and he gave me a forum to try and create more than what was on the script.
(2011, on The Basketball Diaries) That was when Leonardo DiCaprio would need me to do a favor for him. "Yo, can you do this cameo!" Not that I'm giving him shit. I'm friendly with him. I love him and respect him, and we're buddies. He said, "Yo, there's this one scene in the movie, can you do it?" I said, "Yeah I'll do it." So I got to smack him around a little bit. But now I'm waiting for him to put me in one of his new ones! Can you put me in Inception or something like that? Why do I have to be in the only Leonardo DiCaprio movie with a $2 million budget?
(2011, on Mighty Aphrodite) I worked with Woody Allen. It was everything you'd think it would be. I remember being in Central Park the first day of working, I had on this beautiful wardrobe and it was a great fall day, and I remember just thinking, "Holy shit!" I met Woody Allen for five minutes, I got a phone call three hours later, he cast me in the movie. I didn't have to audition. I didn't have to read, or jump through hoops, which made me feel good and set the bar high. Because you'll meet directors who want you to do this, want you to do that. They're not making you jump through hoops to prove yourself. It's cause of their insecurities and what they don't know. So working with him and coming back to work with him in Small Time Crooks again... it was just everything you would think it would be. He was just great. He was funny with me. He encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, say what I wanted to say, not say what I didn't want to say. And this is from Woody Allen! He'd say, "If you don't want to say that line, say something else, but it better be better!" He'd say, "If you don't want to say that joke, say something else, but it's got to be funny." It was great...He trusted me and I would improv, and he would throw it right back at me. That's the thing about Woody Allen: If you're gonna go off the cuff and work with him, you better be ready. It's not just gonna be hit back to you, it's gonna be a volley at the net. It's coming right back quick. Because it's Woody Allen. It was beautiful...I would love to work with him again. I think it's only right that he comes back to New York. My dream would be to do a movie where I play his son, his 6-foot-3 son. But I just know what I can do with him, and I'm so comfortable working with him. That would be my dream. I want to see him do more movies in New York again so I can try and be in them. He's casting all these British and Spanish actors-there's no place for me. It's my selfishness.
(2011, on competing for roles) That's one thing that's a drag. If I want to play a librarian from Texas, I'll jump through hoops. I don't think if you're looking for a librarian from Texas, the first thing that comes to mind is Michael Rapaport... or for a skinhead. You know, you don't think that. But certain things, it's like, "Really?" I just read for this big movie from this first time director in the summer. It's a New York City cop, blah blah. It was me and all these other great New York actors out there, and I'm like, "Just pick one of us! We don't give a shit who. Why do we have to jump through hoops for you?" My whole mentality now is, "Who the fuck are you? Let me see you do 30 push-ups. Why am I jumping through hoops for you? Break down and give me 30 push-ups." Because I was like, "This is a joke, man. You're making us all read here. We've all done this. Just pick one." That kind of shit is frustrating for me now because there are certain things I feel like you earn. Meeting, talking about where your head is at, that's one thing. You want me to audition, and you've never made a movie before? Get the fuck outta here.
(2011, on Cop Land) I got to work with two of my idols at once: Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. I was just overwhelmed to be a part of it and to be around those guys, and to actually be doing scenes with them and sometimes be doing scenes with the both of them. As a fan of theirs, to be actually in front of them reading lines on a set, I was in awe. But I also knew that I wasn't there to be a fan, and they'd only respect me to bring it to them. And it was just great. I couldn't help myself. Me and Sylvester, I would do Rocky lines all the time, and he would do them back to me, and James Mangold got to the point where he told me, "Do not speak to him." Because I would do lines from Rocky and he'd be like, [in a Stallone accent] "You know what you're talking about." And I was like, "I know everything about Rocky. I could do every line." But he could do them too. He would do them back to me. It was surreal.
(2011, on The Naked Man) It was written by Ethan Coen, of the Coen brothers-great, great, great script, not a great director. It was his storyboard artist. Just because it was written by the Coen brothers, doesn't make it's a Coen brothers film. That's all I can say. I busted my ass on that movie. I would have loved to have seen it turn out a little better, but I went down swinging. I could tell you that much. I gave it everything I had. It just didn't work.
(2011, on Bamboozled) I love that movie. I love the message of the movie. I love working with Spike (Lee). I've been a big fan of his for years. He let me go off, really encouraged me to bring stuff to the character. He's an iconic New York director. We have the same birth-date. Sometimes he would cut days short to go to Knicks games or Yankees game. I remember one day they were like, "Yo we got to get this done, Spike's got to go to the game." I was like, "What the fuck is going on here? At least take me to the game if you're only gonna give me three takes!" But he was great. I would love to work with him again-similar directing style to Woody Allen. They don't talk much, but they trust you if you're bringing the goods...I could totally identify with the character. I loved the character. I knew that it was important, that it was larger than life...I was so happy they gave me the chance to do it. I had a lot of fun on that movie. I thought the character was so funny. I loved it. I love doing things that are titillating. I think race can be very funny, and I think I'm very comfortable discussing it and bringing it up. I think it's important to. I think that's why Spike let me play the part. Again, it wasn't what you would think. It's the opposite of my persona, if I have any persona, but that's why I was so wanting to do the part. A lot of people in the movie were contradictions to who they were in person, so that was fun.
(2011, on Beautiful Girls) Great cast, Uma Thurman, Natalie Portman. Fun time. The late Ted Demme. We had a great time working with Matt Dillon, who I've respected for so long. It was just what you would think it would be. I think it's a good movie, I think it's funny, I think it has a lot of heart. It was disappointing that it didn't do as well in theaters, but people talk to me about it all the time. And Natalie Portman. So it's a lot of special things in that movie.
(2011, on his persona) I'm a New York person. I've never gone out of the way to speak to the press to change my persona-I probably should have. It's too late now. But when I first started I was like, "I'm gonna stay this way. I'm gonna be this way," and I continued to. I probably should have sugarcoated it like, "This is not really the way I am-I'm an actor." I see these other actors come up with this tough-guy persona's and now when they're on talk shows they're all... But that's not really the way they are. I probably could have used a little bit of that. At one point I was labeled "The King Of Dumb White Guys." I was offended by that when I was younger, but I understand what that's from, so I was like, "Only a genius can play a fool." But I'm very aware of that, and I'll play into it and use it however I need to use it. I have nothing to prove. I don't want to misrepresent who I am personally. I don't want my kids to see me on a talk show and say, "You're talking different" or "You look different, dad." I'm not gonna be an animal; I know how to conduct myself. But for me quietly, I never wanted to change-evolve and grow up, yes. If my son was an actor I would tell him, "Don't let people know as much about you as I let people know about me." Because I think professionally, it's an easier road. That would be something I would tell a young actor. But it's cool.
(2011, on Death Of A Dynasty) Damon Dash, who I've known since I was a kid, called me and asked me to do the thing. This is when they started to become rich. So I was like, "Yeah I love Jay-Z. I'll do it." I was in a Jay-Z video, "The City Is Mine," 'cause I've known Damon for a long time, so I met Jay-Z early on, and I have been a fan of his. I'm that kinda guy. If you ask me to be in your movie and I know you, and I'm around, I'll be in your movie.
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