Paroled Brancato Seeks Big-Screen Comeback

“I would say, ‘I warned you about drugs years ago’ — and told him something would happen and something did happen. I would see him and say, ‘I hear you’re doing drugs and you should stay away from that stuff.’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, sure, right.’

“You were there. You caused it.

“Here’s a guy who was in the quintessential movie about not wasting your life and that’s exactly what he did,”



— Chazz Palminteri when asked what he'd say to Lillo Brancato, an actor he has no plans to get in touch with.


Lillo Branchato was led astray by drugs.



It should have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- what is known in common parlance as "the big break."

But for Lillo Brancato, Jr. (born March 30, 1976), the success of playing the lead role (Calogero Anello) in the film "A Bronx Tale" (1993), which marked the directorial debut of Robert De Niro, was so very fleeting in the end.




Brancato, after his debut, is perhaps best known for playing the role of Matthew Bevilaqua, a young mobster on The Sopranos. His character's tragic arc took six episodes to reach its end:

Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist's Office (16 January 2000)
Do Not Resuscitate (23 January 2000)
The Happy Wanderer (20 February 2000)
Full Leather Jacket (5 March 2000)
From Where to Eternity (12 March 2000)
Bust-Out (19 March 2000)

Somewhere along the line Brancato developed into a real-life version of a Sopranos mobsters -- but that of a weak, sniveling one destined for a grizzly ending. Let's hope the guy can somehow do whatever he can to help the family of the NYPD officer that died that night because Lillo and his onetime-mobbed-up pal tried to break into an apartment to snatch some narcotics.


Art imitating life: Lillo himself was shot twice, but made out better
than his character on The Sopranos.

In December 2005, Brancato was charged with second-degree murder for his role in a burglary in the Bronx, New York. An off-duty police officer, Daniel Enchautegui confronted two burglars and was killed in a shootout. Brancato was subsequently acquitted of murder, but he was convicted of first-degree attempted burglary and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Co-defendant Steven Armento, a former associate of the Genovese family who'd been thrown out owing to his drug problem, was convicted of firing the fatal shot. The two had broken into the apartment of a deceased acquaintance under the assumption there were narcotics stashed in the rental unit.

Brancato, 37, now paroled, told the NY Daily News that the slaying of NYPD Officer Enchautegui is never far from his thoughts.

“There were three people there that night, and two of them were armed,” Brancato told the News. “I was not one of those people. I was never armed in my life. I personally didn’t shoot anyone. I got shot twice.”

According to the News, "He already has one gig lined-up - a short film being produced by his friend Noel Ashman due to start filming later this month. He will be attending Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as part of his recovery from addiction."

An earlier article in the NY Daily News detailed how he reportedly mourned the passing last year of James Gandolfini.

Brancato first worked alongside Gandolfini in the 1995 film “Crimson Tide,” but came to know him better in season two of “The Sopranos.” Brancato played cocky two-bit thief Matt Bevilaqua, who Gandolfini — as Tony Soprano — shot repeatedly in an abandoned warehouse after the punk kid unsuccessfully tried to murder the mob boss’ right-hand man. Though he remembers Gandolfini as a humble man, far different from the mob kingpin he played on “The Sopranos,” Brancato says he can still remembers the day his character was whacked.

“When my character was killed off by Tony Soprano, I was actually scared that day because he was so in character,” says Brancato. “I’ve never seen him like that. It was terrifying.”

But right after the director called, “Cut,” Tony Soprano was gone and back came Gandolfini.

“As soon as the scene was over he gave me a big hug and said, ‘You did great,’” according to Brancato.

“I admired him so much as an actor and so much as a person.”

Last year the New York Post reported: He’s still a punk. [Guess that is why Lillo went to the News with the Exclusive, and not the Post: Ed. note.]

TV tough guy Lillo Brancato whaled on a fellow inmate at an upstate prison because the con wouldn't cut short a phone call to his wife, The Post has learned.

[The] actor was waiting on the night of Jan. 26 to use the phone booth in a rec room at the Oneida Correctional Facility when he decided he had waited long enough, law enforcement officials said.

The baby-faced Brancato started badgering petty thief Alvaro Hernandez, who refused to cut short his conversation with his wife, Barbie.

Hernandez, 39, says Brancato jumped him and gave him a beating.

“He thinks he runs the place, like he’s God’s gift to this earth. He tells me, ‘Hang up the phone! I gotta use the phone!’ ” Hernandez said.

“He forces open the door and spits at me, and he’s punching me in the face and on the head.”

Other inmates, including Steven Molinaro, 22, grandson of Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, intervened, and Hernandez was taken to the prison nurse.

After an investigation, Brancato, 33, lost phone and commissary privileges and was “T-blocked” — confined to his cell for 23 hours a day for a month.

The Rome prison typically houses about 400 inmates, including former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who Hernandez said witnessed the fight.

Hernandez, doing time for lifting a wallet, suffered seizures after the beatdown. Neither he nor Molinaro, serving five years for assaulting a 14-year-old paperboy, was disciplined.


Comments

  1. We all make mistakes but wether we learn from them is up to us as a former inmate n drug abuser I can relate to lilo but I can see he prob ain't learn squat n that's a shame only time will tell I pray he proovs us wrong

    ReplyDelete

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