Growing up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood, witnessed a mob killing when he was 9 years old.
Following high school, sang at resorts in the Catskills and fronted the cover band Razzamachazz; also worked as a doorman at the New York City nightclub The Limelight.
First major big-screen role came with 1991 crime comedy Oscar, starring Sylvester Stallone.
Made his first foray into screenwriting by adapting his hit one-man play A Bronx Tale into a 1993 crime drama; the film also marked the directorial debut of star Robert De Niro.
Was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway (1994).
Received the Leadership in Entertainment Award from the Coalition of Italo-American Associations in 1996, and was presented with a Special Achievement Award for the Performing Arts from the National Italian American Foundation.
Opened a restaurant called Chazz: A Bronx Original in Baltimore in 2011.
1994, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
1994, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
2006, Sundance Film Festival — Dramatic Special Jury Award: Best Ensemble Performance: Winner
1995, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Male: Winner