We then asked how Spike Lee attacked Oldboy visually, and what kind of physical feel he was going for:
Michael Imperioli: It was a departure for Spike because it’s originally based on a graphic novel, and I think there’s that heightened sense of reality, and a certain tone visually. Colors that pop in that kind of graphic novel way, which is really exciting. I think he really embraced it. We’re not just making a gritty, reality driven movie, it takes place in this alternate universe in a way.
With Spike, he’s a very character driven director, he loves actors, so you’re going to get that combination. That’s what’s really exciting. Spike Lee is not the first name you would probably think about redoing Oldboy. What’s amazing about Spike is – well, now he’s doing something he raised himself on Kickstarter, and Red Hook Summer he did for half a million dollars. He’s willing to play in very different arenas, and that’s what makes him a great artist.
Talking about his character, Michael revealed how physical his own role is:
Michael Imperioli: It’s not so physical. There’s one very physical scene, and I shouldn’t say anything so I don’t give it away, but it was more connecting with Josh, that was my way in with the character, being a lifeline with him.
We asked Michael if Spike Lee’s Oldboy will be as crazy and violent as Park Chan-Wook’s original, which showcased the violence as an important piece of the movie:
Michael Imperioli: Oh yeah, it’s violent. I think that’s part of the story, part of the themes. I think it’s unfortunately part of the world we live in because of technology. The first thing that pops in my head – the bikers that just recently attacked that guy. I mean, twenty, thirty years ago you would never see images of that. You see beheadings when they happen, with terrorists and that shit. We’re much more aware in society about that, we’re immune to it in some degree, or we’re becoming immune to it. I think that’s why this plays such a role in this film. It’s elemental to the story.
Since Michael is a Buddhist in real life, we asked if playing in such a violent film raised any conflicting emotions:
Michael Imperioli: Getting to act those things is a good outlet, it’s therapeutic – so you don’t have to do it in real life.
Ending the interview, we asked Michael what he’s currently working on, and what’s coming next:
Michael Imperioli: I wrote a pilot I’m pitching, and I would love to direct it if we get to do it. I
He also referenced an upcoming role he has on Californication:
I play a TV showrunner/writer/ex-cop who moves to Hollywood, hates what he’s doing, he’s bitter and angry. He’s running a TV show called Santa Monica Cop, which is a really bad detective show, as it sounds. Cops rollerblading – it was really fun, that was a blast. I hire [David Duchovny] as a writer on the show, and hijinks ensue.
I’ve also got a couple indies, one that was a graphic novel called The Scribbler. The lead actress is the daughter of David Cassidy, Sasha Grey is in it, some pretty good actors, and they’re really going for a graphic novel look, very visual.
I’d like to thank Michael Imperioli for his time and for this roundtable interview. Be sure to check out Oldboy when it hits theatres on November 27th.