Chazz Palminteri (born May 15, 1952) is an Oscar-nominated American actor, writer, director and producer.
Palminteri, a Sicilian/Italian American, was born Calogero Lorenzo Palminteri in the Bronx, New York. The son of a Bronx bus driver, he first dreamed of an acting career at age 13. Palmintieri grew up in a tough area of the Bronx and it gave young Calogero (Palminteri's given first name) the life lessons that would later prove very useful. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School and started out pursuing his craft in 1973 studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio. He has appeared in several popular feature films, including A Bronx Tale, Analyze This and The Usual Suspects. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for Bullets Over Broadway.
As a playwright, Palminteri authored A Bronx Tale and Faithful, and as a screenwriter, he adapted both of these stage productions into motion pictures. A Bronx Tale, which Palminteri has claimed to be semi-autobiographical, is particularly relevant to his career. Because he had spent the majority of his acting career in small character roles, he sold the play's film rights to Robert De Niro, with the condition that Palminteri himself be allowed to play the role of Machiavellian mafia boss Sonny. This was his first notable major role in cinema. A Bronx Tale (1993) was a major crowd pleaser as well as a critical hit, and, at age 41 Palminteri became an "overnight" star. Other important projects quickly fell his way.
He was on the right side of the law in both The Perez Family (1995) - his first romantic lead--and The Usual Suspects (1995). He was the ill-fated brute in Diabolique (1996) and wrote a second screenplay, Faithful (1996), in which he again plays a hit man, terrorizing both Cher and Ryan O'Neal.
Palminteri starred in a made for TV movie Boss of Bosses (2001), in which he played the role of real life mobster Paul Castellano.
He made his directorial debut with the 2002 television film Women vs. Men. He also directed the 2004 film Noel.
He is also well known for playing a mob boss in several commercials for Vanilla Coke in 2002, opposite celebrities such as Missy Elliott.