Armand Assante - A Life
ACTOR | WRITER | DIRECTOR
Armand Anthony Assante (born October 4, 1949) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as mobster John Gotti in the 1996 HBO television film Gotti, Nietzsche in When Nietzsche Wept and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer in 1982's I, the Jury.
In September of 1997 his performance in ‘Gotti’ earned him a Primetime Emmy Award and nominations for the Golden Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award. for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Special for his portrayal of notorious crime boss, John Gotti, in HBO Pictures biographical drama Gotti. Assante as well received the Capri Hollywood Award in Capri, Italy in December 1997, for the same performance.
Dropping the fifty pounds he donned for ‘Gotti’ he followed in 1997 with Andre Konchalovsky’s ‘The Odyssey’ In September of that same year the country of Greece, in their premiere of ‘The Odyssey,’ Assante was honored at the Acropolis and in January of 1998 was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for this starring role. At the time it aired in the USA, ‘The Odyssey’ was the highest watched miniseries on any network since 1994 (and NBC’s highest since 1991) attracting 50 million viewers. He is a Four time Golden Globe Nominee.
In a career that has spanned over five decades internationally he is sought in the Film sector as much as he has been the guest of leading industrialists and leaders around the world.
Born on Manhattan’s upper west side in Washington Heights to a large and accomplished Italian/Irish Family he is the son of an Italian American Artist Armand Anthony Assante Sr. (August 5, 1922-August 25, 2017) and Irish American Musician and Poet Katharine Theresa Healy (October 16, 1921-June 29, 2011)
He is still close to his Family relations in Naples and in Rome, Italy.
Assante entered the American Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of seventeen where he won the Jehlinger Award for Best Actor in 1969, making his professional theatre debut that same year opposite Imogene Coca in ‘Why I Went Crazy’ under the direction of Joshua Logan.
He spent ten years in the theater before his film debut in 1977, remaining a devoted student of Mira Rostova in New York for twenty five years. He mentored with Cliff Osmond with whom he developed roles and scripts for twenty years subsequently. He played the main stage of almost every regional theatre on the East Coast since he was nineteen years of age for the first ten years of his career.
During the 1970s, Assante was a regular on two NBC soap operas, How to Survive a Marriage as Johnny McGee and The Doctors as Dr. Mike Powers. His first film was The Lords of Flatbush (1974), although his work did not appear in the final cut of the film and the end credits misspelled his last name as Assanti. His first on-screen role was playing Sylvester Stallone's brother in Paradise Alley and a role that brought him greater attention came in 1980's Private Benjamin as a handsome Frenchman who becomes the love interest of a U.S. soldier played by Goldie Hawn.
Assante's somewhat sinister look has made him a popular choice for tough-guy heroes, as in his acclaimed starring role as private eye Mike Hammer in the film I, the Jury (1982) or as Mafia gangsters such as Michael Moretti in Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels. In 1990 his role as Roberto Texador in Sidney Lumet's film Q&A garnered him a Golden Globe nomination, and the following year he portrayed the notorious Bugsy Siegel in Neil Simon's The Marrying Man (1991). The following year he was seen as mafia boss Carol D'Allesandro in Hoffa (1992) starring Jack Nicholson.
In addition to mafia and "tough-guy" roles, Assante has distinguished himself in historical dramas, such as Napoleon Bonaparte in 1987's Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story opposite Jacqueline Bisset, Nietzsche in the film adaptation of Irving Yalom's novel When Nietzsche Wept, and as Sanchez, Queen Isabella's Minister of State, in 1492: Conquest of Paradise.
Earning consistent international recognition for work in many diverse feature films in 2007 Ridley Scott’ Directed him again “American Gangster” in New York, opposite Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. He starred as musician Cesar Castillo in Arne Glimcher’s ‘The Mambo Kings’ the American debut of Antonio Banderas, was suspected in the death of Jimmy Hoffa in Danny DeVito’s ‘Hoffa’ with Jack Nicholson, and he received a Golden Globe Nomination for his work in Sidney Lumet’s ‘Q & A’ In 1986 he received the Special Jury Prize at the USA Film Festival for the title role in ‘Belizaire, The Cajun’ one of the very first Independent Films under the banner of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. Additional feature film credits include, ‘Paradise Alley’, ‘Little Darlings’, ‘Private Benjamin’, ‘I, The Jury’, ‘Unfaithfully Yours', ‘The Penitent’, ‘Fatal Instinct’, ‘Trial By Jury’, ‘Judge Dredd’ and many independents internationally.
His recurring guest star role in several episodes of NCIS, playing the international arms dealer René Benoit reminded International Audiences of his range.
Internationally he has received no less than twelve Lifetime Achievement Awards in the past ten years retaining an enormous global following and has worked and travelled throughout the entire Russian Federation over the span of twenty five years.
He is the Writer, Producer Director of an Award winning 20 minute documentary ‘Dialogue from the Steppes’ which was honored in Belarus at the Listapad Film Festival, it’s story of Kazakhstan enduring 469 Nuclear detonations by the former Soviet Union from 1949-1989 and in that same Year of 1989, President Nazarbaev giving up the fourth largest nuclear Arsenal in the world.
In 2017 he received the Kineo Diamanti Award at the Venice Film festival for his active participation for a documentary on the pre renaissance astronomer from Uzbekistan ‘Ulu Begh’.
He was recruited to head the Jury of Ukraine’s Moldoist Film Festival in 2009 and as well the Actor two years ago was honored by Moscow Roskino’s ‘Cinema Without Borders’ by Film Critic Katya Mtsituridze who invited him to helm a ‘Master Class’ which drew great appreciation in Moscow in December of 2019.
He is currently Filming in Europe tales of ‘Mister Mayfair,’ the Safe Cracker Extraordinaire who flees New York to helm the hottest Club in London and finds himself surrounded by the elite, the beautiful, his favorite songs and dance, and the notorious past that crashes all hope for equilibrium.
His leading participation in the Film "The Wanderers, Quest of the Demon Hunter", in 2018 with Romanian Comedy Director Dragos Buliga's first film has received "Best Dramatic Feature" at The Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York.
It has earned him Best Actor as well as Best Film at the Unreal Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, The Dracula Festival In Brasov, Romania and opening the Garden State Film Festival in March of 2018, he was awarded Most Valuable Player and the film, Best Feature Film in the Horror Genre.
PERSONAL LIFE - HUMANITARIAN ACTIONS
Beginning in 1990 Armand Assante became a landmine removal activist which he has always credited to landmine survivors Jerry White and Ken Rutherford who founded Landmine Survivors Network in Washington D.C. as well as his Mother, paralyzed from the neck down with Polio the night the Actor was born. Along with his Father and Sisters, he had a palpable introduction to the meaning of physical rehabilitation, further sensitized by New York rehabilitation centers during the fifties.
On his second trip to Croatia after before and post 9/11 Assante contributed personally and raised financing for Doking Engineering, a firm specializing in the removal and detonation of landmines. He has actually been on landmine sites in Croatia with Slavko Majetic, the head of Doking Engineering, twice in 2000 and
2001. By raising a small fund he created immediate international assistance that addressed the landmine sweep in Croatia dramatically. He has been a guest of Croatia no less than twenty times in the past twenty years.
He had also been an active promotional member of Landmine Survivors Network, which is a data based communications group that specializes in the immediate rehabilitation and medical assistance for landmine victims globally. LSN is based in Washington, D.C. and was founded by landmine survivors Jerry White and Ken Rutherford. Armand’s website www.armandassante.net includes information on how contributions can be made to these two outstanding organizations. ( see Reel )
During the production of ‘Blind Dragon’, a documentary he has written and directed on the global landmine crisis, Armand in the winter of 2003 in Africa, was forced to stop filming, before entering Angola, the budget threatened by embezzlement in that country.
The Actor in 1988 worked alongside legendary Homelessness Activist Mitch Snyder ( 1943 - 1990 ) in both New York and Washington D.C..
The Actor has demonstrated that his personal strength in the few issues and institutions he has contested legally and publicly was revealed only through direct action.
Though he has traversed the globe many times he still resides on a 223 Acre ranch one hour North of Manhattan for thirty eight years where he has raised Horses, Dogs, Bulls, as well as Trees. He attributes his happiness to his Family and to a personal philosophy of silence.
Received in April of 2018 from Michel Adams' Fashion TV Global, Career Achievement Award at House of Parliament Bucharest, Romania
Winner of the Kineo-Diamanti Award, Best Actor, Best Doc, Venice FF 2017
Received May 2017 Hoboken International Film Festival Orange County N.Y.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Received June 2017 Ischia International Film Festival- Ischia, Italy
Lifetime Achievement Award
Best Performance Award for DocuDrama 'Ulu Begh' filmed in Uzbekistan 2015–2016
Received August 2017 Venice Film Festival Venice, Italy
Kineo Award-Career Achievement, Best Actor Best Documentary 'Ulu Begh'
Received October 2017 Dracula International Film Festival -Brasov Romania
Actor’s Achievement of Excellence Award
Grand Prize Award for 'The Wanderers Quest the Demon Hunter'
Starring in Kader Ayd’s ‘Day Like a Week’ the Film will premiere at the Cannes
Film Festival in May of 2018. In Mars Callahans ‘Four Kings’ he is Casino Mogul
Jack Wolf. ‘Four Kings’ is a romp on Poker and the wild cards that game that game
and Armand is amidst a gallery of great Actors including a fantastic turn by Mike Tyson.
In 2015 Armand received The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Garden State
Film Festival at Atlantic City and followed it by joining Producer Jules Nasso and
TaeKwonDo Legend Master Kim in an homage to Asian action cinema in the film
"Darc'. He then joined a documentary in Europe helmed by Jakov Sedlar on global
affairs both as himself and in a dramatic turn as "Machiavelli."
2014 marked the addition of Creative Achievement Awards presented to Armand in
Italy at the Maratea Film Festival as well as Belarus where his Award Winning Short
Documentary Film was presented for a Russian- Kazakh Audience at the Listapad
Film Festival at Belarus, November 13, 2014, in Minsk. The film focuses on the crisis
Kazakhstan endured at Semipalatinsk after the detonation of 469 Nuclear Weapons
between 1949 and 1989 under the former Soviet Union.
In November of 2014 he received The Christopher Columbus Publishers Award from the
Italian Tribune as well as being officially honored by Italy’s Carabanieri during the same tribute.
In Argentina in this year 2013, he is Co Producing and Acting in Diego Rafeca’s “Ley Primera”
( First Law ) due for release later this year, a film focusing on the disappearance of the Chaco
Indians from Latin America.
2013 also marked his third Lifetime Achievement Award and this one from the Golden Door Film
Festival in the State of New Jersey.
2013 celebrated The Birth of Assante's own brand of legacy product know as ‘Ora Vivo’ which released a critically acclaimed Cigar created by Assante and Tobacconist Victor Vitale. Having been sought by the International sector to represent companies for years he has finally created his own.
in 2012 the Actor was awarded Best Documentary Short at the Gasparilla International Film Festival, in Tampa, Florida for his film “Dialogue From the Steppes” written and directed by himself and is in his opinion is why Kazakhstan should be recognized as a nation who has been a significant leader in the Global Peace Initiative.
In Kazakhstan that same year 2012 Assante Co Produced and Starred in “Whole World at Our Feet” simultaneously. (YouTube - Trailer -“Whole World At Our Feet” HD Movie Trailer)
In Serbia in 2012 Armand joined the Dragan Bjelogrlic’s acclaimed Film “Montivideo Taste of a Dream” focusing on the historical birth of of the World Cup.
In 2010 he received both Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Long Island International Film Festival as well as the Italian Walk of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
In March of 2007 Armand received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Westchester Film Festival, in New York State, having spent the previous three years working almost entirely in Eastern Europe.
In Bulgaria in the Spring of 2006, Assante completed filming Irving Yalom’s critically acclaimed novel “When Nietzche Wept” in the role of the German philosopher Frederich Nietzche, helmed by producer/director Pinchas Perry which received Five Stars at the Jerusalem Film Festival 2006.
In Romania of June 2006, he starred in Christy Namescu’s black comedy, ‘California Dreamin’, based on an incident during the Bosnian Conflict, which won the The Cannes Film Festival 2007 in Au Certain Regard category as well as 21 International Film Festivals in a cache of categories.
The consummate actor, with an obsession for rhythm and music since boyhood, emerged as a professional drummer and singer in his teens and considers himself a journeyman who has spent his life on the road. Every object or piece of art in his home has been collected from native indigenous peoples from literally all over the planet.
Assante has earned consistent international recognition for work in many diverse feature films. His last completed film role in 2006 is in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” in New York, opposite Denzel Washington. He starred as musician Cesar Castillo in Arne Glimcher’s ‘The Mambo Kings’, was suspected in the death of Jimmy Hoffa in Danny DeVito’s ‘Hoffa’ and played the chief advisor to Queen Isabel in Ridley Scott’s epic ‘1492, Conquest of Paradise’. He received a Golden Globe nomination for his work in Sidney Lumet’s ‘Q & A’, in 1990 and in 1986 won a Special Jury Prize at the USA Film Festival for the title role in ‘Belizaire, The Cajun’. Additional feature film credits include, ‘Paradise Alley’, ‘Little Darlings’, ‘Private Benjamin’, ‘I, The Jury’, ‘Unfaithfully Yours, ‘The Penitent’, ‘Fatal Instinct’, ‘Trial By Jury’, ‘Judge Dredd’ and many independents.
Between 2000 and 2003 Armand completed six independent projects: ‘Last Run’ by Tony Hickox in Budapest, Hungary, Ernest Hemingway’s ‘After The Storm’ by A.E. Hotchner, director Guy Ferland, Bobby Moresco's Hell’s Kitchen thriller ‘One Eyed King’, ‘Federal Protection’ and ‘Consequence’ by Tony Hickox and ‘Tough Luck’ produced by Brian Etting.
In 2002 Armand Assante completed ‘Citizen Verdict’, a satire on the death penalty in which he co-starred with Jerry Springer, and in 2003, a film on the subject of computer terrorism entitled ‘Dotkill’ with director John Irvin which premiered at the Capri Hollywood Film Festival in Italy on the New Year of 2005.
‘Two for the Money’ with Al Pacino and the comedy ‘Funny Money’ based on Ray Cooney’s hit London stage play with comedian Chevy Chase won the Sarasota Film Festival and placed second at the Aspen Comedy Film Festival shot in Romania in the fall of 2004.
He filmed ‘Lost’ a psychological thriller set in Spain, produced by Drimtim Entertainment., Barcelona in 2004.
Armand has been nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance in the animated feature ‘The Road to El Dorado’. He tries to do at least I project within each two-year period for children.
For his work in television in 1988, Assante was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Jack The Ripper.
During 1998 Assante filmed two projects. The first, Looking for an Echo, examining the relationship between Assante as a musician father and his son; and in the Ted Turner film historical docudrama C.S.S. ‘Hunley’, Assante played the commander of the first submarine launched in the American Civil War by the Confederacy.
In January 2000 Assante returned from Australia where he completed Showtime’s remake of the1959 Stanley Kramer film, ‘On The Beach’, starring again as the commander of a submarine. ‘On The Beach’ received Golden Globe nomination for Best Mini Series 2000 and received the IFA Award in Australia for Best Mini Series 2000.
Hemingway’s ‘After The Storm’ directed by Guy Ferland, in which Assante also stars, has garnered Angel City Award and Best Picture Award at New York International Film Festival.
Additional stage credits include the Broadway productions of ‘Boccaccio’, ‘Comedians’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Kingdoms’, as Napoleon Bonaparte as well as ‘Yanks 3, Detroit 0, Rubbers’, ‘The Beauty Part’ and ‘Lake Of The Woods’.
His Daughter Anya 36 is Director of Marketing for ‘Theory” in Manhattan having previously worked for Louis Vuitton, Christies, and David Yurman.
Alesandra 31, his younger Daughter an Actress, Producer, Singer and Composer attended Hunter College in Manhattan. They reside there and on their farm in the Hudson Valley.
Armand’s outdoor passion has seen him raise Horses, champion bloodline German Shepherds, Bulls and Trees.
His home has been photographed and documented internationally.