An up-and-coming local actor has landed a role in the new Elizabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy flick, “The Kitchen.”
James Ciccone, 54, whose roots are in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, got bit by the acting bug at a young age, and cut his teeth performing as a trumpet player through junior high school and training at HB Studios in Greenwich Village under famed actress Uta Hagen.
But, life took him in another direction initially. He taught at both St. John’s University and CUNY, and worked at a non-profit with at-risk youth, as well as earning a degree from the New York Theological Seminary, and considering ordination.
However, acting kept calling him back and around 10 years ago, he decided to perfect his craft, studying under Harold Guskin, the author of How to Stop Acting, and get work in the field.
“While I never went forward with the commitment of ordination, I did preach in the church and while preaching I realized that I missed standing in front of an audience and performing,” Ciccone said. “A lot of people abandon their childhood dreams. Unlike sports, in acting there’s no age restriction. People appear on screen in all age categories. I just wanted to fill that void in my life that I walked away from.”
The first role Ciccone landed was a small role on long-time hit soap opera “As the World Turns.” After that, he started getting bit parts in “Blue Bloods,” “White Collar,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Mysteries of Laura,” “Person of Interest” and “Master of None.”
Then, Ciccone scored a recurring role on “The Deuce,” a mob boss named Carmine Patriccia.
Ciccone said he enjoys working with the show’s star James Franco, who also directed some episodes. “He’s a great guy to work for, a good, down-to-earth person, and sharp. A couple of takes and he’s done.”
Then, Ciccone started to get roles in movies — including two that were shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and 2018.
“We won a Sundance audience award with ‘Crown Heights’ which is about a Brooklyn man wrongfully convicted and spending 20 years in prison, named Colin Warner,” Ciccone recalled. “It’s an interesting bio pic. Most recently I worked with Martin Scorsese in ‘The Irishman.’ I worked with him 10 years ago on a Rolling Stones documentary called ‘Shine a Light.’ It was great to have the opportunity to work with him again, and to work with Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro. It was a lot of fun.”
Ciccone’s latest project is “The Kitchen,” which is about the wives of New York gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s who continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after they’re locked up in prison. It’s based on DC Comics/Vertigo graphic novels, and was written and directed by Andrea Berloff, the writer of “Straight Outta Compton,” who is making her directorial debut with the film.
“This is amazing. This is the big screen,” Ciccone said. “It’s much different exposure than television, a feature film, big budget, with an all-star cast. It’s a big opportunity and we are all looking forward to it.”
Ciccone’s future looks bright.
“It’s a very challenging industry,” he said. “The goal is to get a regular spot on a television show so you have an ongoing job. It’s a great opportunity to be on screen. I’ve been lucky to get my mob parts and to play a uniform cop alongside Jennifer Lopez in ‘Shades of Blue.’ I’ve had quite a few different roles. As an Italian American growing up in Bensonhurst, it’s easy for me to play a mob guy, but there’s so much more I’d love to do.”