Sam Ingraffia [Interview]


Hello Folks! And welcome to another fantastic week here at TWS! Today we are kicking the week off with some words from an absolute legend of the screen. In both film and television, Sam Ingraffia has done it all. Sam has spent the last 40+ years appearing in just about every genre of film and television you can imagine. From Soap Operas to crime thrillers to absolutely hilarious comedies, and back around to horror films. He has put in the work to earn his legendary status, and we are so honored to have him on the site today.

What I love most about Sam’s body of work is, as sort of mentioned before, the diversity of it all! But, with a twist, I should say. We are prone to love cult like things that most likely have their own following, but not a cultural phenomenon. For example: I was at a Claire’s the other day (tack on the idea that this is in England) and they were selling Friends related merchandise to tweens. Now, not to knock on Friends, but I don’t think that a tween-centric jewelry store is going to be pimping out Becker merchandise any time soon. No what I mean? And that brings me to Sam. He has worked on wildly renowned shows and films like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and legendary shows like Barney Miller. But, you HAVE to see him in the under appreciated classics the Fame series and the cult-classic favorite, 1985’s The Falcon and the Snowman. Oh, and he also shows up in the insanely popular, with good reason, original series Barry starring Bill Hader. And to top it all off, he has a “new” project coming out where he is bringing back some old beloved friends. He will discuss below!

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from an even more incredible actor, the great Sam Ingraffia!




What inspired you to get into the world of acting? Was it a passion that you had since your youth? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

It’s a little bit of both. Even as a kid, I loved movies and I grew up watching television. I didn’t have anybody in my family, or circle of friends who had anything to do with show business, so being a performer never seemed like a viable option. I went to U.C.L.A. and graduated with a degree in Political Science. I then decided to get an MBA in Finance. While in graduate school, a friend told me about an audition for a play in a tiny theatre. I had a break from classes and I thought it might be fun to audition, never thinking that I’d actually get cast. I got the part and two weeks later I quit grad school and became an actor. I’ve never looked back.

What was your very first paid gig as an actor that you can remember getting? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work today?

The first paid gig I ever got as an actor was on a TV show called The Betty White Show.  I had one line. I was in awe watching Betty White. She is the consummate pro — funny, open, considerate and when they called “action” — always prepared. Over the years, I’ve tried hard to follow her example.

Beyond the world of acting, you are also an accomplished writer, director, and producer. This could have an obvious answer either way, so I am curious to know what your preference is in this matter. Do you prefer to work behind the camera on your own projects (possibly in front of the camera as well, of course), or in front of the camera on other people’s projects?

As I’ve gotten older, I think I prefer working behind the camera more. As a writer/producer you have input into almost every aspect of a project. You are also connected to the project from start to finish. The actor is one of the last people hired. And when the project finishes shooting your job is done. Being an actor is great because everybody sees your face on the screen, but I really like collaborating with others; putting together the puzzle pieces that finally becomes the finished product.



I understand you have a project in the works entitled The Amazing Return of Sal & Junior, in which you resurrect a character that you played 30 years ago. Can you tell our readers a bit about this project? What can they expect to see?

30 years ago my writing partner Gary Stein and I created two characters named Sal and Junior. We performed them at comedy clubs in L.A. and eventually we got a development deal at Universal Studios. Scripts were written, network deals were signed, pilots were shot, but after almost three years it all fizzled. For years people asked us, “What ever happened to Sal & Junior?”  Now we have an answer! We raised some money, hired a great crew and shot eight episodes. The series is now up YouTube. The shows are really funny and contain old publicity stills and video of us playing the characters 30 years ago!  

You also recently made an appearance on the hit series Barry that has been acclaimed by critics and viewers alike. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this new and exciting show?

The experience of working on Barry was great from start to finish. My scenes are with Anthony Carrigan, who plays “NoHo Hank” on the show. He’s not only a wonderful person but also a terrific actor. When I first went in to meet the casting person, she asked me to improvise during the audition, which is very rare in television. When I showed up on the set, I found out why. Alec Berg who is the Co-Creator of the show with Bill Hader was there. After every take he would whisper something to Anthony. When the director called “action,” Anthony would say different lines, so I had to really listen and react.  I loved it! 



What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I just shot a National commercial last week. I have two features coming out in October. One is a horror film call U.Z.L.A. The other is Bite of the Alien, a very dark comedy that takes place in outer space. I can’t discuss the details because I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but both are really amazing. I just booked another feature, which starts filming in two weeks. It’s a screwball comedy. And we are gearing up to shoot the next season of The Amazing Return of Sal & Junior! 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just glanced over at a framed picture of my son and myself.  It’s from a number of years ago. He’s about 7 or 8. It was taken right before we went out Trick or Treating on Halloween. We are both dressed as Zorro, pointing our swords at the camera.  He even has a drawn-on pencil moustache! Makes me smile every time I look at it.


Check out this clip of Sam’s appearance on HBO’s Barry:



About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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