Boardwalk Empire is nearing its fifth and final season on HBO this fall, giving cast and crew reason for nostalgia.
Recently, actor Vincent Piazza, who plays up-and-coming gangster Lucky Luciano on the show, opened up to Men's Journal about his reluctance to play Italian characters prior to the role. Piazza himself is Italian, his father's family emigrated to the United States from Sicily, but the actor was very aware growing up of the ways Italians were portrayed onscreen.
"I had intentionally worked against half of my heritage…" the actor explained, noting Luciano was the first Italian-American character he had ever played. "There's a stereotype and stigma that is attached to Italian Americans, for better or for worse, I was keeping that in mind."
Even with Piazza concerns, the New York native admitted that every so often "a role comes along that's so great it makes you break your own rules." Apparently, Lucky Luciano proved to be one of those roles and the actor has received praise for his portrayal of the character over the past five years.
Not only has Boardwalk Empire been a professional achievement for Piazza, it has strengthened the relationship with h's father. "I've had a great relationship with my dad," he said, "But doing Boardwalk Empire has bonded us even more, because my character Lucky is from Siciliy and he is also from a small town around there in Italy. Granted it was many years later but he understood migrating and acclimating."
While Piazza has not based his performance off his father, he has turned to him for help with his Sicilian dialogue on the show. "It's been a really beautiful experience for us" he added.
The HBO prohibition drama enters the 1930s this season, which coincides with Luciano's rise to power in the criminal world. This could mean more screen-time for Piazza, or at least his character might find himself in a more prominent position of power.
Boardwalk Empire returns to HBO for its fifth and final season Sunday, September 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.