Michael Rapaport

Michael Rapaport

Character actor Michael Rapaport essayed larger-than-life figures on both sides of the law in countless features and television series for more than two decades, earning critical praise for dramatic work in "True Romance" (1993) and "Justified" (FX, 2010-15) and comic turns in "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995) while also cultivating an impressive second career as a documentarian, most notably with "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" (2011). Born Michael David Rapaport in New York City, he came from a family of broadcasters: his mother, June Brody, was an on-in personality, while his father was radio executive David Rapaport, who transformed the venerable WKTU into an all-disco format in the mid-1970s. After graduating from high school, Rapaport headed west to try his hand at stand-up comedy, but found greater success as an actor on television and in features, beginning in 1992 with "Zebrahead," an independent drama about the tensions created by a romance between black and white teenagers (N'Bushe Wright and Rapaport, respectively). However, his New York heritage and streetwise screen persona translated more directly to "wiseguy" roles - working class types ("Money for Nothing," 1993), small-time crooks ("Hand Gun," 1994), and second bananas in comedies like "The Pallbearer" (1996) and "Kicked in the Head" (1997). His ability to enliven supporting roles in features like the Quentin Tarantino-penned "True Romance" (1993), which cast him as Christian Slater's hapless roommate, and as a student seduced by white supremacy in John Singleton's "Higher Learning" (1997), quickly established Rapaport as a talented player in both comic and dramatic fare. For a period of time in the late '90s, Rapaport was a ubiquitous presence in major features, playing a sweet if slow-minded boxer in Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995), a police officer wanted by corrupt fellow lawmen in James Mangold's "Cop Land," and a doomed engineer pursued by intelligent sharks in "Deep Blue Sea" (1998), among other roles. His big screen cooled in the new millennium, though there were still high-profile turns in films like "The 6th Day" (2000) and Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" (2000); however, television offered more consistent and diverse work, including a recurring turn as a cop boyfriend to Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) and an amiable convict on "My Name is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09), two seasons on David E. Kelley's "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04) as teacher Danny Hanson, and two seasons as the star of "The War at Home" (Fox, 2005-07) as an opinionated Long Island insurance salesman. During this period, Rapaport also parlayed his long-standing interest in hip-hop music into "Beats, Rhymes & Life" (2011), a critically praised documentary about the ground-breaking rap trio A Tribe Called Quest. He helmed a second documentary, "When the Garden Was Eden" (2014), about the New York Knicks in the 1970s, for ESPN's "30 for 30" (2009-), as was a 2016 short, "Hard-Lovin' Woman," about actress Juliette Lewis's pursuit of a music career, and Rapaport also enjoyed notoriety as an outspoken basketball and culture commentator for Fox Sports and through his own podcast, I Am Rapaport. However, acting continued to remain his primary career, and he maintained steady work as earthy characters in features like "The Heat" (2013), the boxing biopic "Chuck" (2016), with Liev Schreiber, and Clint Eastwood's "Sully" (2016). He was also a ubiquitous presence on television, both as a series regular on dramas like "Public Morals" (TNT, 2015) and a guest player, most notably in the fifth season of "Justified" (FX, 2010-2015) as the malevolent head of a Florida organized crime family, and as a fictional music manager in "The New Edition Story" (BET, 2017).




Guest Appearances