Wisdom Dharma Chats | Michael Imperioli
In this Wisdom Dharma Chat, host Daniel Aitken interviews actor Michael Imperioli, best known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos, for which he won a 2004 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Michael is also a practicing Buddhist within the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition and is a student of Garchen Rinpoche.
The conversation begins with Michael recounting his initial explorations of Buddhism. He recalls how he has been a spiritual seeker since he was young and went through a series of encounters with various mystical and shamanistic traditions before connecting with Buddhism around the same time The Sopranos was ending. After achieving certain levels of success with his acting career, Michael remembers feeling that something was lacking in his life and describes how Buddhist instruction and practice helped him to address this.
Michael also discusses the ways in which acting and Buddhist practice dovetail each other, describing how some of the techniques of method acting are akin to Tibetan practices in terms of movement, vocalization, and imagination, and concentration. Noting these similarities, Michael explains how acting primed him, not necessarily for Buddhist practice itself, but for developing the motivation to learn more and delve deeper into the Vajrayana tradition.
Finally, Michael answers questions from the audience regarding his meditation practices and how he maintains energy and a positive outlook when working within a creative field that relies on accessing many different emotional states. He also gives advice for those looking to learn more about Buddhism for the first time and relates the immense value that instruction and devotion to his teachers has had in his life.
For more from Michael, be sure to check out the podcast that he hosts with Sopranos co-star Steve Schirripa as well as his book The Perfume Burned His Eyes and his contribution to The Nicotine Chronicles.