Last season, "Boardwalk Empire" ended on an intensely dramatic and violent note. With a whopping 18 Emmy nominations -- including a few wins -- and the premiere coming up on Sept. 25, Wonderwall caught up Vincent Piazza, the man who plays Lucky Luciano -- and who also happens to be dating Ashlee Simpson. Vincent Piazza talks about working on a violent show, what to expect this season, and the challenges of dating with his newfound fame.
On what will happen with this season:
"A lot of where we left off last season comes to a full-blown boil this season. The drama, the violence, and everything turns up a notch or two. There's a lot of people now vying for what Lucky has and it takes on an interesting shape."
On what we can expect from Lucky Luciano:
"In Season 1, we got to see Lucky as someone coming from the streets being thrust into a world that he feels little bit out of his depths, where he is trying to acclimate himself and learn. This season, he's starting to adjust and trying to maintain his dignity and now achieve in this world."
On dating since the success of the show:
"I like to keep things private, and this is one of those things that's basically an occupational hazard. I try to keep dating low-key. It comes with the career."
On how he spent the show's offseason :
"I had a hard time unwinding out of it. Maybe that's cause of some of the physical choices as well. My hair is naturally straight and dirty blond, and they dye it black and perm it. So every time you wake up and look in the mirror, it's like 'Hmm, all right.' It's not exactly what I look like. It takes a little while to get out of it. Then you also want to stretch out of it and do something completely different, maybe like a British comedy. It can be a little daunting at times, but it's great nonetheless."
On how he comes down from intense episodes:
"You really do need to unwind. The first thing you want to do is find a bed, but you also want to spend the next day just breathing and getting reconnected with yourself. The challenge of the show, since it's such a large ensemble cast, [is that] very rarely do you work consecutive days. Sometimes you only work once only two or three weeks and you are a regular. It's a big commitment that goes into shooting a 16-hour day."
On what it's like to work with Paz de la Huerta, one of the show's breakout stars:
"She's a wonderful free spirit. It's nice to have someone around who keeps you on your toes."
On what he thinks of the set and wardrobe design:
"There are so many cool things that are painstakingly detailed -- with not just the wardrobe, but also the set design, even down to the extras. If I could, I'd probably take my suits. But I'm also kind of an antique buff, so when I go on set and see these amazing ashtrays, planters, chairs and tables, I'm like 'Oh my god, this would be amazing in my apartment.' But I'm never able to fit it inside my jacket to walk off set with it."
On what he likes about working on mobster-esque TV shows:
"With my family, I had done a production of Shakespeare, and they're all like, 'Oh, that's nice.' But then when I told them I was on 'The Sopranos,' they were all like 'Oh my God, amazing!' Then they saw that I was this poufy socialite and they were like 'You don't kill any body? You aren't doing anything violent?' I'm like, 'No, I'm into drugs and the club scene in this, sorry.' It was really fun to work on that show because I was a big fan of the show -- I never wanted it to end."