Anthony LaPaglia (pronounced as La-Pay-Lee-Ah) is an award-winning Australian-American actor. He is mostly seen as playing cops or crooks in movies and series, but he has proved himself to be a versatile part of the American industry. His prolific performances on television and in films have earned him an Emmy and a Tony award.
LaPaglia was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1959. His family belonged to Italy and were immigrants in Australia. He grew up in a diverse family and neighborhood that housed several immigrant families from various countries, such as Germany, Greece, or Croatia. This is why LaPaglia is mostly mistaken as a pure New Yorker due to his accent. His exposure to so many nationalities and languages proved to be a plus point in making his acting career successful.
LaPaglia moved to the US in 1984, and before that, he worked as an elementary teacher in Adelaide. His love for performing arts began when he saw a play by William Congreve named, The Way of the World. It was then he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of moving to the US and living in New York City. He loved this city and was quoted in one of the interviews mentioning that his love for New York City would have brought him here with or without his interest in acting.
Once LaPaglia moved to the big city, he started learning acting from Kim Stanley while worked odd jobs to support himself. He has worked as a furniture restorer, a salesman, and even a sprinkler installer. During the same time, he worked as a production assistant for a local commercial company.
It is rumored that the award-winning actor worked on his accent and learned a great deal from Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. As per the reports, his agent suggested he change his name so that he could be taken as an American, but he refused. So, he was always an Australian actor with a thick New York accent.
His acting career shot off with his first appearance in Bouncers, an Off-Broadway comedy. He played eight out of 30 roles in the play. However, the character that made him famous was a mobster in 1990 in Betsy’s Wedding. LaPaglia’s fame spread, and he was offered similar roles most of the time. Following a long period of playing similar roles, he played the role of a hitman in “Killer” in 1994. Although “Killer” was a low-budget movie, which was showcased in festivals or art houses only, a stellar performance by LaPaglia in the movie was enough to boost his fame.
He further went on to play a thug role in The Client, which was based on the suspense and thriller novel of the same name by John Grisham. According to LaPaglia, he never really enjoyed doing this role; it made him famous and noticeable. The film was a huge success and made about $80 million.
LaPaglia openly mentioned how he was bored with the mafia and thug roles he was constantly been offered. He has talked about how he turned down numerous such roles because he was keen on proving himself as diverse and versatile. He also kept traveling back to Australia for work.
In 2001, LaPaglia played the role of police officer Leon Zat in the movie Lantana. His character in this movie was very intense as it was based on a self-questioning and introspective police officer who was ridden by guilt regarding his extramarital affair. His performance in this movie was incredible. People praised how well he had played the part and modulated his performance.
The film won him the award of the Best Actor from the Australian Film Institute.
His Emmy award came from his excellent and unmatched performance in NBC’s comedy television series Frasier in 2002. This was a hectic year for LaPaglia’s career. He completed five feature films and a couple of episodes of Frasier during the same year.
In 2004, LaPaglia appeared in a television series, Without a Trace. He later won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor the following year for the same series.
LaPaglia’s Take on Acting
LaPaglia has witnessed a lot of highs and lows during his career. He was an outsider who came and adopted the accent so well that he could easily be mistaken as an American. His passion for acting is often reflected in his interviews, in which he talks about how he never distinguished between various genres and worked in his skills to be the most natural actor in every character.