American actor who is of German and Italian extraction Vincent Piazza first came to the attention of public playing Geoff in the Sundance award-winner for Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, “Stephanie Daley” (2006), before acquiring more recognition thanks to his portrayal of kleptomaniac Earl Hefner in the well-received comedy/drama “Rocket Science” (2007). A former amateur hockey player who emerged as a fertile New York stage actor before segueing to film and television, Piazaa is known to TV audiences for his recurring roles in the hit series “ The Sopranos” (2006-2007, as Hernan O'Brien ) and “Rescue Me” (2007, as Tony) and for his guest performances in “Law & Order” and its spin-of show, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”
Childhood and Family:
Vincent Piazza was born and raised in Queens, New York. Prior to acting, he was an ice-hockey player and represented Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Due to a recurring shoulder injury, he was forced to bury his sports ambition and quit the university after only a year.
A Division I-AA ice hockey player representing Villanova University, Vincent Piazza turned his attention to acting after a continual shoulder injury kept him from playing the sport. In preparation for a professional career, he studied under acting couch Alice Spivak and soon plunged himself in the TerraNOVA Collective theatre group in Lion Theatre and Theatre Row in New York City.
Following performances in off-Broadway productions such as “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Baby Steps” and “A Match Made in Heaven,” Piazza progressed to screen acting in 2005 when he landed a starring role as Chris Parker in the short film “Color of a Doubt: An Urban Fable,” co-directed by Jason Lewis and Pornsak Pichetshote (also a writer). He got his break out role in the following year when he was cast as Geoff in “Stephanie Daley,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2006 and ended up winning the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the festival. Directed and written by Hilary Brougher and starring Amber Tamblyn, Tilda Swinton and Timothy Hutton, the film went on to win several other awards and nominations, including Haskell Wexler Award at the 2006 Woodstock Film Festival and an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Still in 2006, Piazza costarred with Alessandra Ramos and Omar Jermaine in the direct-to-video “The Dawn” and played Eric Newsome in “Wrongful Life,” an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He also was cast along side Brandon deSpain and Garrett Hendricks in the 16-minute film “Back to the Front,” directed and penned by Tze Chun.
Piazza earned further recognition in 2007 with his portrayal of Earl Hefner, the kleptomaniac older brother of Reece Thompson, on the comedy/drama film “Rocket Science,” for filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz. Although the film was not a commercial success, it did win attention from critics. The actor could also be seen in the 2007 short films “Darjeeling” and “Yeah No Definitely, ” the indie-drama “Goodbye Baby” (2007), for filmmaker Daniel Schechter, and Joy Dietrich's “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” (2007), which won Special Jury Prize at the 2007 CineVegas International Film Festival and Grand Jury Prize Best Narrative Feature at the 2007 Urbanworld Film Festival. Besides, he portrayed Jimmy Reiner in “Apology” (2007), a drama film written and helmed by Leah Yananton. On the small screen, he played the recurring role of Hernan O'Brien in the HBO series “The Sopranos” (3 episodes, 2006-2007) and appeared as Peter Harris in an episode of “Law & Order” called “Over Here” (2007). In the Denis Leary hit series “Rescue Me” (2004-?), he played Tony in the episodes “Tuesday,” “Commitment,” “Balance,” “Seven,” “Keefe” and “Yaz” (all 2007).
2008 saw Piazza play Bobby Moran in the NBC made-for-television film “Blue Blood,” directed by Brett Ratner. He had a small supporting role in the Brett Simon comedy “Assassination of a High School President” (2008), starring Mischa Barton, and played Cam in “Boys Briefs 5” (2008) segment “Yeah No Definitely.”
Piazza will play Lucky Luciano in the pilot of “Boardwalk Empire” (2009). He is set to play Reuben in the forthcoming film “Polish Bar” (2009), oppsoite Meat Loaf, Richard Belzer, Judd Hirsch, Golden Brooks, James Badge Dale and Maestro Harrell.