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A star’s rise, fall and journey to redemption

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Lillo Brancato is a name that once shone brightly in the constellation of Hollywood stars but now carries with it a different kind of fame, one marked by trials and tribulations. The early ’90s brought him recognition for his notable role in A Bronx Tale, which propelled him into the dazzling world of entertainment. Yet his life took a tragic turn as he grappled with personal demons, leading him down a treacherous path marred by drug addiction and a series of significant legal troubles.

Join us as we navigate the rollercoaster of Lillo Brancato’s life, where talent, addiction and the relentless glare of the spotlight intersect. This is the story of a troubled star’s unyielding quest for redemption and the indelible impact of his legal woes on both his career and personal journey.

Lillo Brancato biography

Lillo Brancato

Lillo Brancato Jr. was born on August 30, 1976, in Bogotá, Colombia. He is a 44-year-old actor, most notably known for his portrayal of “Calogero ‘C’ Anello” in the coming-of-age crime drama film, A Bronx Tale (1993), and for his role as “Matthew ‘Matt’ Bevilaqua” in the HBO crime drama series, The Sopranos (2000).

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Adopted when he was four months old, he was brought up by Italian-American parents, Lillo Brancato Sr., a construction worker, and Domenica, who worked as an electrolysist, in Yonkers, New York. Brancato received his education at Mount Saint Michael Academy. His adoptive brother, Vinny, briefly pursued a career as a fashion model and now serves as a Yonkers civil servant.

Despite his birthplace in Colombia, Brancato strongly identifies with Italian culture, stating: “I consider myself Italian. I was raised to enjoy pasta.”

Brancato’s journey in the world of acting began in 1992 when he was discovered while swimming at New York’s Jones Beach by a talent scout, who noticed his striking resemblance to Robert De Niro. His remarkable impression of Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver” left a lasting impression on the scout, ultimately leading to his role as De Niro’s on-screen son in A Bronx Tale.

Lillo Brancato career

Brancato’s life took a dramatic turn in 1992 when a talent agent discovered him at Jones Beach due to his striking resemblance to Hollywood icon, Robert De Niro. As a devoted De Niro fan, Brancato’s impressive imitation of De Niro’s character from the 1976 film Taxi Driver earned him a pivotal role as De Niro’s on-screen son, “Calogero ‘C’ Anello’, in De Niro’s directorial debut, A Bronx Tale (1993). This coming-of-age crime drama film achieved modest commercial success.

Following this, he portrayed “Pvt. Donnie Benitez” in the 1994 comedy film, Renaissance Man. He then played the role of a radio operator in Tony Scott’s 1995 action thriller film, Crimson Tide. This movie became a major box office hit as it grossed over $157 million, well exceeding its $53 million budget.

Brancato made his debut on television, appearing as “Gaetano Luvullo” in Firehouse in 1996. Subsequently, he starred as a young worker in the 1998 action thriller film, Enemy of The State.

In 2000, Brancato secured his first major lead role when he was cast as “Matthew ‘Matt’ Bevilaqua” in the second season of the crime drama series, The Sopranos. This TV series is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV series of all time as it earned numerous awards, including over 20 Primetime Emmy and five Golden Globe Awards. During the same year, Brancato played “Pete” in the comedy-drama film, Blue Moon, and appeared as “Weasel” in the romantic comedy film, Mambo Café. He also took on the role of “Alberto ‘Lucky’ Fema” in the CBS crime drama series, Falcone.

In 2001, Brancato portrayed “Lenny” in the comedy crime film Sticks, and starred as “Jimmy Pierazzi” in the thriller film, In The Shadows. He continued his film career with roles like “Larry” in the 2002 sci-fi action comedy film, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash, and “Lenny” in the 2004 drama film, Downtown: A Street Tale.

His filmography also includes appearances as DJ in the crime film, Slingshot, and the title role in the adventure comedy film, Searching For Bobby D, both in 2005. His final film role before his arrest was as “Alan Delucci” in the 2007 romantic comedy film, Saturday Morning.

After his release from jail in 2013, Brancato resumed his acting career. He starred as “Nicky” in the 2016 sports drama film, Back In The Day. He also played “Zanca” in the crime mystery thriller film, Dead On Arrival (2017), which was a remake of the 1950 film, D.O.A. He also got featured as “Bruno” in the crime film, King Of Newark 2 (2018).

In 2019, he played the role of “Tiger” in the action-thriller film, The Fearless Two. He then portrayed “Sonny Finici” in the 2020 crime film, 5th Borough, and narrated the music video for the song City Girls by Chris Brown, featuring Young Thug. His most recent work includes playing “Johnny” in the 2021 comedy thriller film, The Phone Call.

Looking ahead, Brancato has upcoming roles as “Ochoa” in the comedy film, Made In Mexico, and “Father Palladino” in the crime film, Monsters Of Mulberry Street, both of which are currently in post-production.

Lillo Brancato’s legal troubles

Brancato’s life took a troublesome turn as he began using drugs and alcohol shortly after embarking on his acting career in 1992. His addiction escalated to include cocaine and heroin by his mid-20s.

On June 10, 2005, he faced legal trouble when the Yonkers Police Department arrested him in Yonkers, New York. Initially pulled over for a faulty brake light and lacking proper vehicle documentation, he permitted the police to search a cigarette box in his possession. Inside, they discovered four bags of heroin, leading to a seventh-degree Class A misdemeanour charge for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Just six months later, on December 10, 2005, Brancato was arrested by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for his involvement in the murder of 28-year-old off-duty police officer, Daniel Enchautegui. Enchautegui confronted Brancato and his accomplice, Steven Armento, outside a vacant house near his residence after hearing a glass break. A gunfight ensued, resulting in Enchautegui’s death. Armento, who was found responsible for the fatal shot, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole on October 30, 2008.

Brancato faced charges of second-degree murder, and his trial commenced on November 17, 2008. Ultimately, the jury acquitted him of murder but found him guilty of first-degree attempted burglary on December 22, 2008. On January 9, 2009, he received a 10-year prison sentence.

During his time in prison, Brancato continued to grapple with drug addiction, experiencing a heroin overdose at least once. However, on December 31, 2013, he was released on parole. As of 2020, Brancato claimed to be 13 years sober and returned to acting.

Lillo Brancato movies

Lillo Brancato rocking sunglasses

Here are some of the movies Brancato has featured in

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Films

  • A Bronx Tale (1993): Brancato played “Calogero ‘C’ Anello at age 17. It explores the relationship between a young boy, Calogero, and a local mobster.
  • Renaissance Man (1994): Brancato portrayed “Pvt. Donnie Benitez”. This comedy-drama film stars Danny DeVito as an unconventional teacher who instructs a group of army recruits.
  • Crimson Tide (1995): He played Petty Officer Third Class “Russell Vossler”. This action thriller focuses on the intense conflict aboard a nuclear submarine amid a crisis.
  • Firehouse (1997): Brancato’s role was “Gaetano Luvullo” in this TV movie. The film revolves around the lives and challenges of firefighters in a firehouse.
  • Enemy of the State (1998): Brancato portrayed a young worker in this thriller. It follows the story of a lawyer who becomes entangled in a government conspiracy.
  • The Florentine (1999): Brancato played “Pretty” in this drama. The film delves into the lives of various characters in a small American town.
  • Blue Moon (2000): Brancato’s character was “Pete” in this comedy-drama. The movie centres on a woman who experiences a series of life-changing events after a car accident.
  • Mambo Café (2000): Brancato portrayed “Weasel” in this romantic comedy. The film revolves around a man’s journey to save a local dance club from foreclosure.
  • Sticks (2001): The actor played “Lenny Prince” in this comedy-crime film. It tells the story of a group of friends involved in a drug deal that goes awry.
  • In the Shadows (2001): Brancato was “Jimmy Pierazzi” in this thriller. The film follows a hitman’s attempt to leave the world of crime.
  • The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002): He portrayed “Larry” in this sci-fi action comedy film. The story is set on the moon in the future and follows Pluto Nash, a nightclub owner.
  • Downtown: A Street Tale (2004): Brancato plays “Lenny” in this film, which explores the challenges faced by a young woman in a tough urban neighbourhood.
  • Slingshot (2005): He starred as a DJ in this crime film. It follows the life of a young man who becomes involved in drug trafficking.
  • Searching for Bobby D (2005): Brancato portrayed “Bobby” in this adventure comedy film. The plot revolves around a group of friends searching for a Hollywood star named Bobby D.
  • Saturday Morning (2007) His role was “Alan Delucci” in this romantic comedy film. It explores the lives and relationships of various characters.

TV

  • Dead Man’s Gun (1999): Brancato appeared as “Guiseppe Guissipini” in an episode titled: “The Vine.” The series features the stories of individuals and the impact of a cursed gun on their lives.
  • The Sopranos (2000): He played “Matthew Bevilaqua” in the second season of this iconic crime drama series. It revolves around a mob boss, Tony Soprano, and his dual life as a criminal and family man.
  • Falcone (2000): Brancato portrayed “Lucky” in an episode titled “Windows.” The series follows the life of FBI agent, Joseph D. Pistone, who infiltrated the Mafia as “Donnie Brasco”.
  • NYPD Blue (2002): He appeared as “Gary Montaneri” in an episode called “Dead Meat in New Deli.” The show is a police procedural drama focusing on the detectives of the NYPD’s 15th Precinct.

Lillo Brancato’s net worth

Brancato has an estimated net worth of $10,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Lillo Brancato Family

Lillo Brancato at an event

Brancato’s romantic history includes dating actress and screenwriter, Chanel Capra, in the early 1990s. After their separation, he embarked on a relationship with Stefanie Armento in 2003 but their romance ended two years later.

Currently, Brancato is in a relationship with Christina Chen. While the exact start date of their romantic involvement remains private, it is known that they have been together for several years.

Lillo Brancato age

Brancato was born on August 30, 1976. He is 47 years old as of 2023.

Lillo Brancato Instagram

Lillo Brancato has an active social media presence on Instagram, with 103,000 followers as of the time of writing this piece.

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