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Why Carmine Falcone From The Batman Looks So Familiar

The familiar characters of Gotham City have come back with brand new faces in Matt Reeves' "The Batman." In the moody superhero flick, Robert Pattinson takes up the winged mantle, alongside Zoë Kravitz's Catwoman and Paul Dano's Riddler. Of course, Gotham wouldn't be complete without an unhealthy share of corruption and organized crime, which is where the infamous Carmine Falcone comes in.

Falcone is a mainstay of most early Batman stories, even if his name isn't as recognizable as his underling Oswald Cobblepot, aka Penguin (Colin Farrell). As the mob boss leader of one of Gotham's most powerful crime families, Falcone has multiple members of Gotham's government and police force on his payroll, making him a frequent antagonist to Batman.

This isn't the first time Falcone has been portrayed in live action: Tom Wilkinson played him in 2005's "Batman Begins," while John Doman played him in the TV series "Gotham." Now, it's John Turturro who's taking on the role of Carmine Falcone, and here's where you recognize him from.

John Turturro's been in several Spike Lee movies

Early in John Turturro's career, he caught Spike Lee's eye with his performance in "Five Corners," so Lee cast him in his 1989 film "Do the Right Thing." In an interview with Vanity Fair, Turturro recounted how it went: Lee sent Turturro the script and asked which part he wanted to play. "I said I'd like to play the racist guy because I thought that's what it was about," Turturro said. Set in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Brooklyn, "Do the Right Thing" explores racial tensions between an Italian-American family running a pizzeria and their neighbors.

Lee plays pizza delivery guy Mookie, while Turturro plays Pino, the racist son of the pizzeria's owner. In their key scene together, Pino names his favorite celebrities — who are all Black — but then says they're "not really black." In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lee broke down the scene, pointing out that line as key: "Pino, when he's talking, it's not based upon fiction ... I've heard this argument where the most racist people, their favorite athlete, entertainer, or comedian, is Black." Although they're antagonistic in the movie, Turturro and Lee are good friends in real life. Even so, Lee admitted he was intimidated by doing that scene together, saying "John Turturro is a beast." 

"Do the Right Thing" kicked off a long collaboration between the two of them, with Turturro appearing in several more of Spike Lee's movies, including "Jungle Fever," "Clockers," and "Mo' Better Blues."

John Turturro licked a bowling ball in The Big Lebowski

Even though John Turturro was only in "The Big Lebowski" for a few minutes, he made a big impression as bowling competitor The Jesus. Dressed in a purple jumpsuit, Jesus Quintana does an elaborate ritual — including licking his bowling ball — before he throws his ball down the lane. After getting a strike, he does a dance, insults The Dude (Jeff Bridges), and leaves. It's a fever dream in slow motion, set to a Spanish take on "Hotel California" — so fans ate it right up.

The eccentric character was a collaboration between Turturro and Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote, directed, and produced the movie. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Turturro said The Jesus is inspired by a character he did in a play a decade earlier: He asked for the painted pinky nail and brought the hair net, while the Coen brothers made the choice for Jesus to be noticeably well endowed. "When you only have five minutes, you've gotta put everything in," Turturro said. "I just kept trying to come up with things to make [the Coen brothers] laugh."

But then Turturro saw the scene: "I didn't think they were going to use all of that and then when they showed me the cut of it, I was embarrassed," he said. "I was laughing, but I was embarrassed. I was like, 'Oh god, I can't believe I did all those things.'" That embarrassment didn't hold him back from bringing Jesus back for a sequel movie, 2020's "The Jesus Rolls," which he wrote, directed, and starred in. "It's just a fun character," Turturro told Vanity Fair. "Everything he does is a masterpiece in his own mind, despite the fact that everything he does backfires." Unfortunately for Turturro, "The Jesus Rolls" also backfired.

John Turturro followed George Clooney across Mississippi in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Continuing his work with the Coen brothers, John Turturro starred in 2000's "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" alongside George Clooney and Tim Blake Nelson. The three of them play escaped convicts, chained together in Depression-era Mississippi, who embark on an episodic journey to get back home. The adventure comedy is loosely based on Homer's Greek poem The Odyssey, with Clooney's Ulysses Everett McGill taking the role of Odysseus. Turturro's Pete and Nelson's Delmar are dimwitted, compared to Ulysses' cunning, but they follow him in hopes of finding buried treasure.

More than anything, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is known for its iconic soundtrack comprised of old folk songs, which become part of the story as the group finds radio fame as The Soggybottom Boys. "I don't think you get to read a script like this in particular, which is sort of a hillbilly musical comedy adventure, very often," Turturro said in an interview about the movie. About working with the Coen brothers, he said, "It's always a new world that they create and it's fun to fill that imaginary world out. It's never the same." He also appeared in their movies "Miller's Crossing" and "Barton Fink" as the bookie Bernie Bernbaum and the playwright Barton Fink.

John Turturro played Monk's agoraphobic brother

For most of his career, until recently, John Turturro didn't do much TV, which is why his guest appearance on USA's "Monk" was both special and unusual. Mr. Monk himself, Tony Shalhoub, asked Turturro to come on the show, since the two of them are friends and had worked together before, on the movie "Barton Fink" and the play "Waiting for Godot." Turturro comes into the story in the Season 2 episode "Mr. Monk and the Three Pies," playing the brother of San Francisco detective Adrian Monk (Shalhoub).

Like Adrian, who's known for his obsessive compulsive disorder and long list of phobias, Ambrose Monk has his own collection of fears and quirks: He hasn't left their childhood house in over 30 years because of his severe agoraphobia. That's not the reason the two of them are estranged, though. They haven't talked in years because Ambrose blames himself for the death of Adrian's wife and so hasn't reached out to his brother. But when Ambrose thinks his neighbor committed murder, he calls Adrian to solve it and the two awkwardly reunite. It's a favorite episode of Shalhoub's, as the strained relationship between the two brothers reveals another side to his character. He told USA Today: "He's more abrupt and less sympathetic. It's a healthy thing to see that he's not a complete saint."

For the episode, Turturro won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. He ended up coming back for two more episodes: Season 4's "Mr. Monk Goes Home Again" and Season 7's "Mr. Monk's 100th Case." Before Turturro's second episode aired, Shalhoub praised him to The New York Times: "Somehow in two episodes he's managed to take the character and make him a fully rounded, complete part of the show."

John Turturro is Agent Simmons in the Transformers movies

While "The Batman" will be John Turturro's first superhero movie, he's been a mainstay of another blockbuster franchise since 2007 –  this one involving robots in disguise. In four "Transformers" movies, he plays the antagonist-turned-ally Agent Seymour Simmons of the government's secretive Sector Seven. At the Montclair Film Festival, Turturro said he based his performance on the movie's director, Michael Bay, and has done that with other directors and executive producers, including Martin Scorsese.

This role was a big departure from Turturro's usual independent movies, but he took the job because of his son. "I never did any of those kind of movies till my kids asked me to, then they kept asking me to do it," he told The Independent. "I didn't do it for a pay check. I had fun, tried to get into the spirit of it. It's more of a sketch of a person than an oil painting. I do them, it helps me take care of the family and after that, I need to recover because my ears are ringing." He prefers "medium-sized films" to the big budget ones, although he said those roles have become fewer and far between these days. "Now there are no medium-sized films. There are small films or giant films. Thank god for television," he said (via Variety). 

That answers the question as to his new interest in television, but now Turturro is back in the multiplex with "The Batman."