Larger than life

Few people have the street cred that actor Alex Corrado has in his hometown.

Corrado had been on the road with the musical The Bodyguard. I caught up with him when he flew in from Atlanta to do a promo for his role as Gabe in the hit TV series Gotham that aired May 1on FOX.

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Corrado has a deep baritone. “It’s Gabe’s finest hour,” he says of the episode.

We met at M & P Biancamano, the uptown Italian delicatessen best known for its award-winning fresh mozzarella, delicious food, and for being a Hoboken institution for decades. It’s old Hoboken, with home-style dining and vintage decor.

With fond memories of playing stickball on Hoboken streets, Corrado has a lot in common with his favorite deli.

“I went to St. Peter’s & Paul’s on 4th and Hudson, and I lived on 6th and Hudson,” he says. “In Hoboken back then, we would get home from school and literally we would change clothes and go play outside until your mother called from your window for dinner.”

He graduated from St. Peter’s Prep, attended New York University, and then studied medicine at the renowned University of Bologna in Italy. On his return, he practiced medicine in Newark.

Dissatisfied with medicine, he abandoned ship and dove head first into acting. It was a risky leap, inspired by a lifelong love of film, fueled by his parents.

“I got into acting without any formal training as an actor but I knew I could do it,” Corrado says. “My parents were movie bugs; they loved movies. Like when they’d do screenings for all the classic movies at like Radio City Music Hall, we would go see movies like Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, How Green Was My Valley, Casablanca, Sunset Boulevard, you know, all the classics.”

Act One

Corrado’s acting break was straight out of a movie, akin to Lana Turner being discovered at Schwab’s.

He relates, “While out walking one day, literally someone came up to me and said ‘Do you want to be in Analyze This with Robert De Niro?’ and I said to him, ‘Yeah, and I want to buy the Brooklyn Bridge too!’ I mean c’mon, I’m from Hoboken. I’m not some wide-eyed Casanova kid from the Midwest walking around Times Square clueless. You know what I’m saying? But the guy turned out to be legit.” 

Soon after, Corrado was introduced to director Harold Ramis and auditioned for the role of Richie Boots in the 1999 film Analyze This starring De Niro and Billy Crystal. Corrado, who is 6-foot-4, was passed on the role because he was too tall to stand alongside De Niro, who is 5-10, and Crystal, who is 5-7.  Still, the audition was a breakthrough that would lead to roles in Dinner Rush (1999), Hannibal (2001), and a TV career that includes roles in Sex and the City, Blue Bloods, and Gotham.

In 2011, Corrado produced, directed, and acted in the short film Hero, which won the Best New Director award in the New York Film Festival. It’s based on a story written by Captain Arthur Dell of the North Bergen Fire Department, which follows the life of Carlos Arce Jr. as he rises through the ranks of his local police department and reaches an ethical quandary, much like that in Serpico, that leads to a surprise ending. The film features action-packed shooting scenes, dramatic acting, and suspenseful storytelling. 

Screen to Stage

The Bodyguard represents Corrado’s first experience in a travelling show. A musical adaptation of the 1991 film written by Alexander Dinelaris, it stars R&B singer Deborah Cox as Rachel. Corrado plays her security guard, Tony Scibelli. The musical includes the original score from the film, made famous by the late Whitney Houston. 

The show has been performed for more than 200,000 people since its opening in November and will run until April 2018. It’s slated to be performed in 44 cities nationwide.

“People think it’s all glamour and stuff, but in reality it’s exhausting,” Corrado says.

The show has performances eight times a week. The cast’s only day off is Monday, which is also a travel day.

Still, the experience of a new city each week, new stage, and new audience is a part of touring that Corrado enjoys.

“I always said that theater is real acting,” he says. “You’re in the moment, and every night you’re creating something for your audience. It’s great. The people don’t know what to expect, and with live theater anything can happen.”

Corrado’s work is being noticed.

“Tony Scibelli is the quintessential security guard, drawn with a Goodfellas brush,” wrote Dawn Reno Langley of The Triangle Arts and Entertainment in her review of the show.

He’s also working on roles for two films and will appear on the award-winning web series The Sandra West Diaries, directed by fellow Hobokenite Robert Griffith.

Act Three

Corrado, who celebrated his 52nd birthday in April, still has career goals.

“My dream has always been to host Saturday Night Live because I’ve been a fan since its inception, and I’ve wanted to win an Oscar or a Tony,” he says. “At this point I’ll take it for acting, directing, writing, or producing. I’ve been in some great things, but now I want to take it to the next level.” 

Corrado’s mantra is to live life to the fullest.

“I feel like every day is like New Year’s Eve for me,” he says. “I’ve had a great life. No one’s going to cry for me when I’m gone. No one’s going to say ‘the poor guy never got out,’ trust me, I’ve lived a good life.”

Though he now lives in Rutherford and has traveled widely for work, Hoboken is where his heart is.

“Yeah, I’ve seen changes,” he says. “Some of them for the better, some for the worse, quite frankly. But I still love it here. I’ll always love it.”—07030 

Hudson Reporter
Hudson Reporter
News from leading newspapers and magazines serving Hudson County, NJ.
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