Actor Gino Cafarelli And The Release Of Capone Shows A Different Side To America’s No. 1 Gangster
With movie theatres closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood is trying its best to still entertain us while we stay at home, with new releases planned for various platforms. One of the most popular recent releases was Capone, which went straight to Video on Demand last month.
Starring Tom Hardy as America’s most notorious gangster Al Capone, this latest look at Capone is perhaps the most fascinating yet, telling the story of a fading gangster ravaged by dementia and living in seclusion in the final years of his violent, turbulent life.
The movie also stars Gino Cafarelli, who plays “Gino,” portrayed as Capone’s right-hand man for 25 years. The role of Gino is clever creative licence, as that person never existed in Capone’s life. But the character is meant to represent the many right-hand men who surrounded Capone during his tyrannical reign as America’s No. 1 mob boss.
“Gino is a compilation of the two to three guys over the years who served Capone,” says Cafarelli in a recent interview with Dolce from quarantine at his home in New York City. “Capone was the type of guy that, if you were loyal, he would look out for you and spread the wealth, which demanded different types of loyalty. There are scenes in the film which show two different sides of Gino: the kind protector and then the angry wild side. And I liked that about the character arch.”
Born in 1969 to Italian immigrant parents in Queens-New York, Cafarelli is one of those “Oh yeah, that guy” actors. He’s known for his expressive face and his many roles alongside some of Hollywood’s most famous artists in his field, including Robert-De-Niro, Joe Pesci, Matt Dillon and Hugh Jackman. He had a cameo role as Pesci’s bodyguard in The Good Shepherd, hand-picked by De Niro himself for the part.
Cafarelli acted in The Irishman opposite both Pesci and De-Niro, and he was recently in Bad Education, opposite Jackman. Working with some of the industry’s greats has given him many amazing moments and an invaluable education in his craft.
“As a kid, I idolized method actors like De Niro, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, and it causes a lot of tossing and turning beforehand, but it’s way less complicated than I imagined, because on the set, it’s just work,” says Cafarelli. “Getting to watch and work with De Niro was incredible. They all have different approaches to their craft, and their individual process is what works for them.”
Cafarelli has also had a successful and extensive career in television, appearing in The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, Blue Bloods and Castle — not bad for a kid who grew up in a traditional Italian household, where people had “real jobs,” anchored by their traditional ethic of hard work.
“My mother calls me every day and bugs me about getting a real job,” says Cafarelli. “My dad was a bricklayer, and today I can walk the streets and see the type of work he did and realize he was an artist, too. I’m just a different type of artist. Mom and Dad still don’t get how I can actually work for a living being an actor. But I was so blessed to grow up like I did, which keeps me very grounded and humble, and taught me to respect people in life and when I’m working.”
Without giving too much away, Cafarelli does provide tantalizing teasers about Capone, which covers the last two years of the gangster’s life. After being released from Alcatraz on tax evasion charges, Capone, the architect of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, moved to his estate on Palm Island in the Miami Beach area, where he rapidly declined, suffering from dementia brought on by syphilis.
“It’s a very different Al Capone than you’re used to seeing,” says Cafarelli. “Yes, there are the clothes, big cars, Tommy guns and usual assortment of “wise guys,” but there is also a glimpse into the non-glamourous part of being a gangster, which is quite a different side of things.
“His mental state is very evident, and everyone surrounding him is walking on eggshells,” says Cafarelli. “It’s a very different version of Capone. It’s stylistic, artistic and quite a unique take on Capone that no one has ever seen.”
During this difficult time in self-isolation, Cafarelli’s thoughts often reflect upon his heritage, and he has a special message for Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus.
“I was just there last fall and have so many family members there. I say, ‘Stay strong,’” says Cafarelli. “It will take time to heal, but it will pass. The Italian spirit, like the American spirit, will come together. They have a lot of heart. Those videos of people singing from their balconies earlier in this crisis say everything about the Italian people.”