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Michael Imperioli Quit Stella Adler’s Acting Class After Legendary Teacher Insulted Students

Adler's controversial methods didn't work for the young actor, but things turned out alright for "The Sopranos" standout.

Michael Imperioli

Michael Imperioli

Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 20

Few conversation topics get actors more riled up than “method acting.” The phrase, which originally referred to a specific style of thespian preparation as pioneered by Konstantin Stanislavsky, is now used as a catch-all term to describe actors going to extreme lengths to get inside the minds of their characters. Some of Hollywood’s most well-known actors have defended the practice, while others dismiss it as a waste of time that makes everyone on set (and, if done especially poorly, in the audience) uncomfortable.

Regardless of where you land on the approach’s merits, the renewed interest in the sometimes intense techniques actors employ to perform won’t be going anywhere any time soon. In a new interview with the New York Times, “The Sopranos” and soon-to-be “White Lotus” star Michael Imperioli reflected on some of his early years as an aspiring performer looking for guidance from the greats.

At 19, Imperioli began taking lessons at the legendary Actors Studio in New York City, enrolling in a class with industry titan and acting teacher Stella Adler. While many actors and actresses would have done anything to successfully study under the woman who trained Marlon Brando, Imperioli wasn’t impressed with Adler’s famously abrasive style and harshly dismissive approach to her pupils. When Adler looked around the classroom and told each of her students that they were “boring,” Imperioli decided to part ways with the supposed acting guru.

“I just couldn’t buy that I was boring,” he said, recalling that his actual thoughts at the time were quite the opposite of what Adler was saying. “No, I’m not boring. What’s going to be interesting is whoever I am and if I can bring that and express that through something completely imaginary.”

Imperioli may have had his disagreements with Adler’s methods, but he certainly found an approach to the artists’ shared craft that works for him. The actor’s role in the upcoming second season of “The White Lotus” has him back in the limelight, and Imperioli will soon be working with “The Sopranos” creator David Chase again. The Times profile revealed that Chase is writing a mysterious new project that sees Imperioli re-teaming with “Sopranos” Bobby Bacala himself, aka actor Steve Schirripa. 

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