By Nick Christophers
There is no one who has not gone through life without making idiotic decisions. Sometimes we are given a second chance and sometimes we are not. For Lillo Brancato who was released after serving ten years for attempted burglary has been given that priceless second chance.
Lillo who is really of Colombian blood was raised by an Italian family and welcomed the culture and traditions in a huge way. He began to appreciate the pasta his Calabrian mother made and strong work ethic his Sicilian father instilled in him. Besides that he also mastered both dialects and even modern Italian. Hence, he feels more Italian than Colombian.
As fate would have it Lillo would have the golden opportunity of a lifetime and play alongside legendary actor Robert DeNiro. At age fourteen he was told he resembled DeNiro and he soon wrapped himself around DeNiro’s works. Soon he would be cast to play his son in the blockbuster film “Bronx Tale”.
“It is hard to explain in words. When I was 14 years old working at a florist putting Christmas wreaths out someone mentioned that I looked like him. I began to research about him and was impressed. I went as far as impersonating him. Then to have the opportunity to be apart of “Bronx Tale” it was a dream come true more than winning the lotto.”
Following his debut in “A Bronx Tale” acting roles began pouring in. He would go ahead and be apart of projects like “Crimson Tide” with Sean Connery, “Renaissance Man“, HBO hit “The Sopranos” and many more. One of his favorite projects was “Renaissance Man” since it gave him an opportunity to take on a Shakespearian role. As far as actors go Lillo has worked with many powerhouses. His most memorable were Chazz Palminteri, Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, James Gandolfini and of course Robert DeNiro.
Unfortunately, a bad decision cost him his career. On December 10, 2005, he was arrested on suspicion of murdering off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui. It would be revealed later on that it was his partner Steve Armento who actually shot and killed the officer. Lillo was found not guilty of the murder but guilty of first-degree attempted burglary. On January 9, 2009 he was sentenced to ten years in prison. Eventually he was released on parole on December 31, 2013. Since his release he has vowed to do his best to live a better life drug free and away from anything criminal.
“For the first 3 yrs the last thing was on my mind was acting. My focus was on trying to win the case but was convicted for attempted burglary. Someone lost their life because of bad decision making and being with the wrong crowd. Which I take full responsibility for and wish every day to take that day back. I was not armed and never have been and it was due to my drug addiction. I try to learn to be a better person from now on.”
Lillo was determined to make good on his promise to stay on the straight and narrow. His friends came to his aide and helped him to accomplish just that. Such friends like producer / club owner Noel Ashman, director John Abrahante, Willie DeMeo and up and coming director Paul Borghese. Director John Abrahante had welcomed Lillo to play the character Father Palladino in the upcoming film “Monsters on Mulberry Street”. This is one role Lillo is proud to play since it is a character not connected to anything violent. Also director Paul Borghese has offered a part for Lillo in the upcoming boxing film entitled “Back in the Day’’ which stars Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Mike Tyson. The film tells the story of a troubled kid from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who gets mentored by a local mobster while training to be a prizefighter.
Besides these projects he is due to travel to Pittsburgh, PA to work on a film called Generation RX which is based on how prescription drugs are harming today’s young people. This film is close to Lillo’s heart since it is something he has experienced first hand. So far Chet Hanks (Fantastic 4) is on board and possibly Selena Gomez may sign on. This project is due to be directed by Ryan Fox and produced by Sandy Kyrstokos. There is also another film on the table entitled “Valhalla” directed by Don Capria and produced by Ray Vanacore.
“The Generation RX project is close to my heart since I had lived it. Chet Hanks is part of it, Tom Hanks’ son and possibly Selena Gomez.”
Lillo has made some impressive strides since being released. He is on a mission to not only redeem himself but to build on his love of acting. To link up with Lillo on social media go to instagram and twitter.
Categories: Profiles of Interesting New Yorkers