‘Sopranos’ Star Michael Imperioli Returned to This TV Location in ‘Primal’

Michael Imperioli has a new movie out in theaters and on demand November 8. In Primal he plays a government agent escorting an assassin (Kevin Durand) by boat. On that same boat is an exotic game hunter (Nicolas Cage) and his cargo. When the assassin gets free and frees the animals, everyone is fair game on the ship.

Michael Imperioli
Michael Imperioli | Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Imperioli spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone about his role in Primal. He gave us his thoughts on the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark so now it’s time to talk about his latest movie. It turns out, Primal returned him to the location of another TV show, but not the one you’re probably thinking. 

Michael Imperioli returned to the location of his short-lived Amazon series for ‘Primal’

Primal filmed in Puerto Rico, where Michael Imperioli also shot the Amazon series Mad Dogs. Mad Dogs only lasted one season but Imperioli made lifelong friends there.

“I did a series there for the better part of one year and loved it, made a lot of friends. A lot of people from my series were on the crew of Primal so it was kind of like going home again. I think it’s a great place and I love the people there. I have a lot of friends there. Mad Dogs was before Hurricane Maria and Primal  was after and a lot of people that I knew there. It was amazing to see their resilience and ability to go on and endure.”

Michael Imperioli, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 10/31/19

‘Primal’ is Michael Imperioli vs. Nicolas Cage

Michael Imperioli and Nicolas Cage’s characters are at odds in Primal. The agent wants his prisoner back and the hunter just wants to keep his animal safe. Behind the scenes, they were on the same team. 

Michael Imperioli |Craig Barritt/Getty Images for ReedPOP

“It was a great pleasure to work with Nicolas Cage,” Imperioli said. “I had never worked with him. I was excited to work with him and we had a lot of great discussions which was fun. He’s really great to work with, really gives his all every take. I didn’t talk to him about his character and my character. When we would have breaks, we’d talk about raising kids and where we were living.” 

Michael Imperioli stopped doing his own stunts years ago

Primal is an action movie, but Michael Imperioli lets the stuntmen handle anything dangerous. He didn’t have any tricky stunts anyway. 

“I’m too old to be doing stunts,” Imperioli said. “I learned that a few years ago. I used to be very macho about that. I had some kind of pride in doing my own stunts, but stuntmen do it much better than I can. There wasn’t a lot of complicated stuff for my character. Most of it was pretty simple and straight ahead. I don’t have a problem doing that stuff but I’m not going to jump out of any windows.”

Michael Imperioli is still playing cops and robbers

Michael Imperioli has played mobsters, cops and everything in between. He said he’s still playing the same games he used to play as a kid.

Michael Imperioli in Primal
Michael Imperioli in Primal | Lionsgate

“I often play law enforcement and I often play people that law enforcement are pursuing which is basically cops and robbers, which is what I used to do when I was a little kid,” Imperioli. “I’m still doing that as an adult but making a living at it. I kind of compare it to that sometimes. We used to play army when we were kids and sometimes you do that.”

There were few real animals on the set of ‘Primal’

Most of the animals you’ll see in Primal are computer generated special effects. Michael Imperioli had to pretend they were there.

“I didn’t work with any real animals,” Imperioli said. “That’s always interesting, acting with things that aren’t there. You have to really use your imagination. Not as easy as it looks.”