Which John Turturro Is the Best John Turturro?

John Turturro, Fading GigoloMillennium Entertainment via Everett Collection

After John Turturro has finishes selling sex, he’ll be back on the right side of the law. The actor is set to take over the lead role in the upcoming HBO miniseries Criminal Justice, which was originally developed as James Gandolfini’s passion project. The show, which is based on an acclaimed BBC series, will see Turturro play a high-powered New York lawyer who defends as Pakistani man accused of murdering a girl he remembers partying with on the Upper East Side, but can’t seem to recall whether or not he killed her. Robert De Niro was previously attached to the role, but had to step down amid scheduling conflicts.

Turturro’s move to television makes him one in a long line of Coen Brothers regulars who have recently made the jump to the small screen, including Steve Buscemi, whose show Boardwalk Empire is entering its final season, and Frances McDormand, who will play the title role in the upcoming mini series Olive Kittridge. Even their flick Fargo has moved over to television, and the FX series has been receiving rave reviews. Seeing all of these Coen-ites together on television got us thinking about some of Turturro’s other collaborators, and the way they’ve influenced his career.

In honor of Turturro taking over Criminal Justice, we’ve ranked all of his frequent filmmaking partners based on the quantity and quality of their output, as well as their overall Turturro-ness – that elusive factor that determines how important these films are in understanding and appreciating Turturro’s career. 


Number of Films: 3
Best Role: Agent Simmons, specifically the one that appeared in the first Transformers film. That was the best one. 
Worst Role: None. That series needed Simmons more than he needed it. 
General Consensus: We’re assuming that there are some people who looked into Turturro’s other films thanks to his performance in the Transformers franchise, so at least some good came from it. 
Overall Turturro-ness: Low. Just go watch The Big Lebowski again instead. 


Number of Films Directed by Scorsese: 2 
Number of Films Co-Starring Scorsese: 2 
Best Role: Julian in The Color of Money. Mostly because Raging Bull doesn’t count. 
Worst Role: Raging Bull, where Turturro was only an extra. 
General Consensus: While Turturro isn’t a Scorsese regular, the films they have made together are very good. Hopefully they’ll work together again soon, becuase Turturro and DiCaprio would make a hell of a team. 
Overall Turturro-ness: Low. The movies are definitely worth seeing, but they’re not vital to the Turturro experience. 


Number of Films: 3
Best Role: Emilio Lopez in Mr. Deeds, which Turturro has said was the most fun he had in a Happy Madison film. 
Worst Role: Phantom in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. It’s best for everyone if we just continue to pretend this movie never happened. 
General Consensus: Turturro is generally the best part of whatever Happy Madison film he appears in, and he seems to have a lot of fun with Sandler, but these movies are… well, they’re just not that good. 
Overall Turturro-ness: Middling. They’re well known roles, but they’re not well-regarded. 


Number of Films Directed by Allen: 1
Number of Films Co-Starring Allen: 2  
Best Role: Writer in Hannah and Her Sisters, which wins by default, since it’s the only true “Woody Allen film” in Turturro’s resume. 
Worst Role: Crocker Johnson in Company Man, which would have really benefitted from that cut Bill Murray cameo. 
General Consensus: One one hand, his collaborations with Allen have yet to produce a truly iconic Turturro role, but on the other hand, it’s not You Don’t Mess With The Zohan
Overall Turturro-ness:
Middling, thanks to a boost from Fading Gigolo


Number of Films: 9
Best Role: Pino in Do the Right Thing. In addition to being an iconic film, it’s also the role that kicked off a long-time partnership between Lee and Turturro. 
Worst Role: Don Angelo Bonasera in She Hate Me, the weakest film that the pair have made together. 
General Consensus: Turturro and Lee have been working together for over 20 years, and their partnership has produced some truly wonderful films, and it’s one that should be celebrated a lot more often. 
Overall Turturro-ness: High. These films have produced some of Turturro’s most iconic roles. 


Number of Films: 4 
Best Role:
Barton Fink in Barton Fink. It’s quintessential Turturro. 
Worst Role:
None. Turturro’s four films with the Coen Brothers are some of the best they’ve made. 
General Consensus:
He’s an incredibly vital part of the Coens’ cast of actors, and together, they brought the world Jesus Quintana. Clearly, this is a partnership for the ages. 
Overall Turturro-ness: Sky high. Because after reading this list, you definitely want to watch one of their movies again, don’t you? Be honest.