Neighbor: Aida Turturro, Actress

After seeing Montauk resident and actor Aida Turturro on Saturday at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks, where she was looking tan and happy, and a vision of the relaxed, laid-back vibe of the fishing hamlet she resides in, we decided to catch up with her.

Those who have been conscious the last decade know that Turturro was a featured character in the groundbreaking HBO series “The Sopranos,” in which she played Janice Soprano, the sister of the lead character New Jersey mafia king Tony Soprano, played by her longtime friend James Gandolfini. Here’s a typical exchange between brother and sister from the show:

Janice: “There’s a Zuni saying: ‘For every 20 wrongs a child does, ignore 19.’”

Tony: “There’s an old Italian saying: ‘You f**k up once, you lose two teeth.’”

Actually, Janice Soprano, as manifested through Turturro’s brilliant acting, was one part shaman, one part witch and one part sociopath. Most of the men in her life ended up dead, one she killed, and out of family loyalty Tony has the man’s body put through a meat grinder and disposed of. In an attempt to recover valuables from her dead mother’s home, she steals the caretaker’s prosthetic leg, vowing to keep it until she gets what’s rightfully hers. She manipulates another man into marrying her, has a daughter, then subsequently attacks another mother at her daughter’s Peewee soccer match. Like her brother Tony, Janice is prone to violence, is plagued with psychosomatic disorders and is a classic narcissist. [expand]

The Emmy-winning show is credited with forever changing the landscape of television programming, and for her work on it, Turturro received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

She was born on September 25, 1962 in New York City. Her father, Domenick Turturro, was an artist and her mother, Dorothy was a homemaker. Acting may just be an inherited trait in the Turturro family as her cousins John Turturro, Nicholas Turturro, and Natalie Turturro are all actors as well.

Before “The Sopranos,” Turturro and Gandolfini had worked several times together, beginning with a Broadway appearance in A Streetcar Named Desire, with Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange. In 1994, they appeared in the film Angie with Geena Davis and in 1998 they played detectives in the film Fallen.

Turturro studied theatre at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and soon after graduating in 1984, began landing roles on stage, in film and in television

One of Turturro’s passions is her dedication to educating the public about rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, conditions she has. In an interview in Diabetes Health she talked about how she went through her own process of denial about the disease but came to a point in her life where she wanted to not just manage the disease but take charge of it.

In 1995, Turturro’s performance in Denise Calls Up received rave reviews from the critics. In it she played an unsuccessful event planner. Later, Woody Allen cast her in his 1998 film Celebrity.

In an interview with Gurney’s Ingrid Lemme on her VVH-TV “American Dream Show,” Turturro said, “Montauk is a very special place to me. I feel very lucky to be welcomed here.” The moment she says those words, she begins to cry, and explains that when you start to lose family members, it is so meaningful to be part of a place filled with people who care about each other.

She also talked about her companion, Buddy, a black Labrador. “Buddy has changed my life, helped get me to exercise more, and we walk on the beautiful beaches of Montauk. It’s been wonderful. Montauk is such a great place for dogs. He walked in the Halloween parade. I put a hat on him! These are the beautiful things in life,” Turturro said, “living out here, just the simple joys.”

We couldn’t agree more. Seeing Turturro at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks with her infectious smile is also one of the simple joys of living on the East End with neighbors like her.

Opening on Friday, July 22, you can see Turturro in A Little Help, a film that also features Jenna Fischer and Chris O’Donnell. Set on Long Island, post September 11, in the summer of 2002, the film explores the strange and chaotic events in the life of a woman who is a dental hygienist. [/expand]

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