By Nick Christophers
Some actors who hail from certain neighborhoods tend to be type-casted based on their upbringing.
For a little while this was the case for Queens, New York native Gino Cafarelli. Gino grew up in a typical Queens neighborhood that had “Saturday Night Fever” and “The Sopranos” written all over it. But Gino was no “street tough” or dancing king, he was gifted and intelligent and used his talents to make his way in the industry.
Gino grew up on the hit TV show “The Honeymooners” which turned out to be his favorite. After watching Jackie Gleason in action he was hooked on becoming an actor. He was always an avid TV and film fan. He would attend St. John’s University enrolling in the pharmaceutical program until he switched it and completed a degree in management. Yet sales and management played a backseat to his desire to become a full-fledged actor. He did take up classes in fine arts and acting while at SJU.
Gino started his path to acting in 2000 as a co-producer in a film titled “Chooch” which actually derived from a comedy album called “The HaYaDoin’? Boys”. He acted in the film and improvised most of the production. Gino describes it as a cartoon since his role tended to resemble a cartoon character. The film was rumored to have become an underground cult hit.
The release of the project began to open doors when he auditioned for the character Vinny Pitts on the HBO hit show “The Sopranos”.
“I said to myself, if I can get in to read for David Chase, that I would try something different at the audition, take a risk, and I did in the room. I always heard the horror stories that actors would read for the show like 12 times, and would not book a role. I got the first call, the audition, and impressed David Chase, granted it was only one episode. But it was great to work with the show and director Mike Figgis (“Leaving Las Vegas”). “The Sopranos” actually got me my SAG card, so it’s something special.”
Soon Gino would get a cameo role as Joe Pesci’s bodyguard in the film “The Good Shepherd” which was directed by Robert DeNiro, who chose Gino for the cameo role himself. That same year in 2005 more projects began to come in like Artie Lange’s “Beer League,” “The Wedding Bros.,” and “Lbs.”.
Besides film, Gino has also graced the TV screen being on shows like CSI: NY (2009), Castle (2010), Blue Bloods (2012) etc. In 2009 he had the opportunity to work on Robert Siegel’s film “Big Fan” who discovered Gino from his work on YouTube. The success and friendship he formed with Robert was to equal some dividends. Currently, he is working on a project with Robert that is partially based on Gino’s upbringing in Queens in the 80’s. The film “Big Fan” appeared in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, the film was later nominated for Best Picture at the Gotham Awards.
Like many actors coming up in the industry many end up working with some exceptional talent. Gino has worked besides heavyweights like Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon and Matt Damon. He also worked with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale even though the scene was cut on the film “The Fighter”. If there is any actor he would love to work with, it would be Leonardo DiCaprio. Gino’s luck would improve when he won best actor in the narrative short “Dante’s World” (2011) which was directed by Katherine Narducci (Sopranos).
Presently, Gino is working with Rob Siegel on the project “Franny Lew” which will be shooting in 2015 and also possibly working on a Horror film. Besides that he is working on his own idea of forming a production company that will focus on shooting TV show teaser presentations to pitch to networks. As you can see Gino is always on the move making new inroads in the film world never losing focus on his goals. You can stay updated on his new projects here.
Categories: Profiles of Interesting New Yorkers