FACES: “Vinyl” Star P.J. Byrne Puts the HBO in Hoboken
P.J. Byrne was a working actor for more than a decade before being cast as Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff in the modern Martin Scorsese classic, The Wolf Of Wall Street. Now a few years after the release of Wolf, P.J. is now starring in the HBO hit “Vinyl,” portraying American Century’s head of legal, Scott Leavitt.
As P.J. Byrne mentioned in an interview for Downtown Magazine a few weeks back, the New Jersey native has quite a history with Hoboken. This led to some 07030-themed follow-up questions…
hMAG: We hear that you met your wife in Hoboken. Where did that happen?
P.J. Byrne: It was New Year’s Eve and we met at Madison Bar & Grill. I love that place!
Actually, at our rehearsal dinner at The Brass Rail, I gave my wife the actual chair she was sitting in when I met her. And of course we still have it today. We also doubled down on Madison’s—that’s what we named our daughter. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t meet at Hooters.
H: And your wedding was in Hoboken?
P: It sure was! We said our “I do’s” at Our Lady of Grace on 7-7-07. Our wedding reception was at the Weehawken Ferry Terminal, and at midnight a ferry pulled up and we all hopped on the boat for an after party going around the Statue Of Liberty. And our late night eats were from Fiore’s Deli. My Aunt Jean Fiore’s dad, Joe, started the deli way back when…and I don’t think anyone makes better fresh “mutz” anywhere else in America. Then for years, John Amato has used the same Fiore formula and kept the tradition of quality mozzarella going and then some. Honestly if I could live there, I would happily sleep in the back room.
H: Do you have a favorite restaurant in town?
P: I don’t even think it is a question—Augustino’s. We’ve had many a special meal there, from birthdays, to my parents’ big anniversary, to this next story in particular. I tricked my father-in-law into meeting me alone at Onieals; my wife, Jaime, made extra money waitressing there — and that’s where I asked him for my wife’s hand in marriage. Then I took him to Madison’s and sat him in the seat at the bar where I met Jaime.
My father, my cousin Dr. Frank DePaola, and soon to be brother in-law Bruce Padula – who did legal work in Hoboken — walked in, met us for a drink, and finally, all we headed over to our first meal together as a family at Augustino’s. I’ve been going there for years and truly love everybody who works there.
H: Have you been to any shows at Maxwell’s? Or seen any concerts elsewhere in town over the years?
P: Yes, of course! But my favorite night was at Maxwell’s, about 10 years ago. I went to grad-school in Chicago at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where I met a good buddy of mine, Tim Nordwind from OK Go. So to be able to watch my buddy in my favorite band rock out my favorite town made for magical night!
H: Your dentist is in Hoboken, yes? What keeps you going there, even though you don’t live in Hoboken?
P: First and foremost, he is my cousin. But, honestly, as an actor you never want to mess around with your smile, and I wouldn’t trust anyone else in my mouth—that sounds weird. If I lived in Fiji instead of L.A., I would still come back to him. He is that good. Also, have you been to his office? It’s amazing!
You see, Hoboken puts out great “mutz,” music, Italian food and one of the most highly-skilled dentists in North America: Dr. Frank DePaola.
H: Any idea if a Hoboken reference will ever pop up in Vinyl? Or something Sinatra-related?
P: Not sure I am allowed to answer… But that being said, if I have anything to do with it, you better believe Hoboken will be mentioned. It is my favorite city and it holds a warm place in my heart, and I will forever be connected to it and grateful for it. Want to know my dream job? One day, Mayor of Hoboken… shhhhh.
Byrne will to put his political ambitions on hold, as “Vinyl” has just been renewed for a second season on HBO. We hope to hear more from P.J.—in the meantime, keep up with him at @PJ_Byrne.