October 07, 2010

Michael Imperioli's Exploration of the Hungry Ghost Realm

The Hungry Ghosts, the directorial debut from veteran actor and writer Michael Imperioli, opened last Friday here in New York.  Best known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti on HBO's mafia drama the Sopranos and now on the cast of ABC's Detroit 187, Imperioli is a student of the highly regarded Nyingma lama Namkha Rinpoche, and as he discussed in his Winter '09 Tricycle interview, he finds that his mindfulness practice and work as an actor employ many similar skills and disciplines.  With a title like The Hungry Ghosts (a reference to one of the six realms within Tibetan cosmology), it seems The Hungry Ghosts, the directorial debut from veteran actor and writer Michael Imperioli, opened last Friday here in New York.  Best known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti on HBO's mafia drama the Sopranos and now on the cast of ABC's Detroit 187, Imperioli is a student of the highly regarded Nyingma lama Namkha Rinpoche, and as he discussed in his Winter '09 Tricycle interview, he finds that his mindfulness practice and work as an actor employ many similar skills and disciplines.  With a title like The Hungry Ghosts (a reference to one of the six realms within Tibetan cosmology), it seems clear that Imperioli's Buddhist practice is continuing to influence his artistic vision.

Watch the trailer here:

From a recent interview on MovieMaker.com,

MM: What’s your interest in eastern cultures and religions?

MI: At the time that I wrote the script, I had been exploring eastern religions for a number of years. Basically just reading different books and different approaches. And not just eastern, but also even some western things like [George] Gurdjieff. Well, he’s not so western but he’s not what you think of when you think of the east. And [P.D.] Ouspensky and people like that. And then [Carlos] Castaneda was someone I was interested in. And then I even read some things on the occult. But there was something about mysticism that intrigued me. I kept getting drawn to Buddhism, and I kind of started getting a bit serious about Buddhism right around that time. But I was still very not committed to anything. After we shot the movie and it was edited, pretty much on completion of the edit, my wife and I met our teacher, who’s a Tibetan lama who’s based in Switzerland. We helped him open a Dharma Center in New York. So, when this movie was completed, we found our teacher, which was October 2008, and then we actually took vows of refuge with him and became Buddhists two months after that. So I kind of really feel that making this movie was part of that path.

MM: As you were making the film, did it open you to more experiences with Buddhism because you were telling this story?

MI: Yeah. I was opening myself to those ideas at the same time. I had been to some teachings, some Buddhist teachers, and there was a bunch of Buddhist stuff I had read before I started writing. I was thinking about those things. But, you know, most of the film is about confusion more than promoting Buddhism, promoting one approach after another. There is a running thread about compassion that’s there and that definitely is important in Buddhism.

Read the complete interview here.

Michael Imperioli and Namkha Rinpoche, from their '09 visit to the Tricycle office

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Kris Short's picture

Great. ANOTHER good movie that I'll have to become un-attached to.

The Trailer for Michael Imperioli’s The Hungry Ghosts « Rev.'s picture

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