LEO ROSSI – ACTOR, PRODUCER & WRITER
Rossi began his career with small roles in successful films, such as the Rick Rosenthal-directed – John Carpenter-scripted – Halloween II (1981) with Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, in which he falls victim to the suburban maniac Michael Myers. Subsequent roles in Jonathan Kaplan's Heart Like a Wheel (1983) opposite Bonnie Bedelia and Beau Bridges, Tim Hunter's River's Edge (1986) with Dennis Hopper andKeanu Reeves, and Bob Rafelson's Black Widow (1987) – also with Hopper, Theresa Russell and Debra Winger – paved the way for a starring role opposite Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis in Kaplan's The Accused (1988); Rossi delivers a chilling performance as the film's central antagonist, Cliff "Scorpion" Albrect. The Accused in turn led to Rossi winning a starring role in William Lustig's Relentless (1989), a serial killerfilm which co-stars Judd Nelson and Robert Loggia; however, this time Rossi plays the central protagonist – Detective Sam Deitz – a role he would reprise in three sequels. Rossi followed up Relentless with Lustig's Maniac Cop 2 (1990), a horror film sequel starring Bruce Campbelland scripted by Larry Cohen.
During the 1980s, Rossi was also a prominent face on TV: he made guest appearances in the police procedural Hill Street Blues (1982), a recurring role; the science fiction series Amazing Stories by Steven Spielberg (1985); the crime drama 21 Jump Street with Johnny Depp (1988); and the Vietnam War drama Tour of Duty (1989).
Rossi began the 1990s with a memorable performance in the action comedy Fast Getaway (1991): the film is about a father (Rossi) and son (Corey Haim) who rob banks together until the former is caught and imprisoned, and the latter is forced to break him out; Fast Getaway has one of the highest ratings on cable TV. Rossi then took a supporting role in Where the Day Takes You (1992), a drama featuring an all-star cast including Sean Astin, James LeGros, Dermot Mulroney, and Christian Slater; the film depicts the lives of teenage runaways trying to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. He played a detective in the Pamela Anderson vehicle Raw Justice (1994), a street preacher in the teen comedyDream a Little Dream 2 (1995) starring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, and reprised his role opposite Haim in Fast Getaway 2 (1994). Rossi saw out the twentieth century with a lead role in the Harold Ramis box office comedy Analyze This (1999), in which he plays the evil cousin toRobert De Niro; other co-stars include Billy Crystal, Chazz Palminteri, and Lisa Kudrow.
TV appearances during the 1990s included Murder She Wrote (1992), Frasier (1997), JAG and a recurring role in ER (TV series) (1999). He portrayed a special agent in Kaplan's adaptation of Truman Capote's psychological drama In Cold Blood (1996); the latter – a miniseries set in 1950s America – co-stars Sam Neill and Eric Roberts.
The 2000s saw Rossi in a variety of roles: having exhibited a natural talent for comedy in Analyze This, he took a supporting role in the Harald Zwart comedy One Night at McCool's (2001) in which he shared the screen with Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas, John Goodman, and Liv Tyler; the same year he accepted a role in the mobster thriller One Eyed King (2001) co-starring with Armand Assante, William Baldwin, Bruno Kirby, and Chazz Palminteri. Next came a supporting role in the experimental drama The Business of Fancydancing (2002) and a part in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) alongside a talented and extensive cast that includes Timothy Dalton, Brendan Fraser, Heather Locklear, and Steve Martin; Looney Tunes is a live action-animation comedy directed by Joe Dante. Rossi then both produced and starred in the thriller 10th & Wolf(2006) in which he plays an FBI Agent partnered with Brian Dennehy; the two agents attempt to infiltrate – and bring down – a Sicilian (Mafia) family business. 10th & Wolf is loosely based upon the true story of undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone aka "Donnie Brasco"; other cast members include Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, James Marsden, Brad Renfro, Giovani Ribisi, and Lesley Ann Warren.
In TV, Rossi starred in another drama based on the life of Joseph D. Pistone: Falcone (2000); the show aired on CBS and also featured performances by Amy Carlson, Jason Gedrick, and Eric Roberts; it is based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Pistone and Richard Woodley. He also appeared in Judging Amy (2001) and Without a Trace (2006).