Ten Reasons Why Vincent Gallo Is The Coolest Actor Around

From doing his bit for Hip Hop to slapping up the son of a mafia boss to recover a $5 debt. There aren't many around like Vincent Gallo
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From doing his bit for Hip Hop to slapping up the son of a mafia boss to recover a $5 debt. There aren't many around like Vincent Gallo

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His new film Essential Killing's kick-ass, but then so do a lot of things about this enigmatic, idiosyncratic artist

1) He's in GoodFellas. Check out the scenes featuring Henry Hill's 1970s crew and you'll spy a young Vinnie Gallo, as he was known back then.

2) He's a real trooper. During what he described as an "undisciplined" improvisation on the set of Abel Ferrara's gangster film The Funeral, an extra set about Gallo, knocking him unconscious, breaking his nose and loosening two of his teeth. A real pro, Vince didn't have his wounds dressed until after the film had wrapped.

3) He used to play in a band with modern art superstar Jean Michel Basquiat. An acclaimed avant-garde musician, Gallo - who is himself a gifted artist - guested on a number of tracks recorded by Basquiat and his band Gray. HerE for your listening pleasure is I Wanna Go Back:

4) He helped put hip hop on the map. In 1984, using the moniker Prince Vince, the future star of Arizona Dream and Palookaville threw himself into B-boy culture, eventually earning the respect of the initially sceptical African-American community.

5) His directorial debut is a real piece of work. Gallo's intensely autobiographical Buffalo ‘66 features a career-best performance from Christina Ricci. The film also showcases great work from Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazara (Anatomy Of A Murder, The Big Lebowski), playing approximations of Gallo's real parents, and notable cameos from Jan-Michael Vincent (Big Wednesday, Airwolf) and the then all but forgotten Mickey Rourke. Here's what Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who later had a notable falling out with Vincent) said about the picture on its theatrical release:

6) He's front and centre in one of the greatest of all movie scenes. In Emir Kusturica's Arizona Dream, Gallo's character Paul goes to the cinema to make out with his girl. While Paul explains to his woman why he won't let her touch his face, Johnny Depp's Axel occupies a seat behind the couple. "Think anybody fucking touches Johnny Depp's face?" barks Paul from out of nowhere. Ever the consummate professional, Depp doesn't so much as flinch.

7) He once had a cracking idea for a magazine feature. Asked by a British film publication what he thought might make for an entertaining feature, Vincent Gallo suggested the periodical find the worst journalist in London and then send them to New York to interview him. Secretly taping the conversation himself, Gallo would be as rude as he could, certain that the writer would twist his words. Then, when the journalist submitted their story, the actor would mail across his version of events, thus allowing the magazine to run the stories side by side. Alas, nothing ever came of this idea - here's hoping someone eventually gives it the green light.

8 ) He was once asked to compile the coolest/creepiest of all top 10 lists. If you're old enough to remember the late, lamented Neon, you might recall the time Vincent Gallo was asked to list the 10 women he'd most like to kiss. Besides Charlotte Gainsbourg ("She's super special - a miracle"), Patricia Arquette ("She seems wild and kinky") and Steffi Graf ("She had the best sweaty panties I'd ever seen in my life"), our man spoke at great length about his passion for the then 52-year-old Charlotte Rampling: "I sat next to her on a plane once from Berlin to Paris and I think it's the only time I've ever been excited to see a celebrity in person. She looked beautiful. If she ever wanted to, I would like to just make out with her."

9) He's no shrinking violet. As he told Neon in May 1997, "I've walked into a Mafia club where the son of the big shot owed me five bucks and slapped him up in front of his father."

10) He's still pushing the boundaries. In his new film Essential Killing, Gallo plays a Taliban soldier who's sent to Europe for interrogation. Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski whose Moonlighting helped make Jeremy Irons a star, Essential Killing is a fine film made extraordinary by Gallo's compelling, near-silent performance.

Essential Killing is released on April 1.

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