On Wednesday, actor Lillo Brancato Jr., who first appeared in Robert De Niro’s 1993 directorial debut “A Bronx Tale,” spoke to “Extra’s” Tanika Ray at Universal Studios Hollywood about his new documentary “Wasted Talent.”
In 2008, Brancato Jr. fell from grace after an arrest for his involvement in the murder of an NYPD police officer following a drug excursion gone wrong. He spent eight years in prison on an attempted burglary conviction, and was released on parole in 2013.
"Wasted Talent" focuses on his life, chronicling his time in prison, his decision to get clean, and the struggle to redeem himself in Hollywood.
Of the documentary, Lillo shared, “Captures my rise, my fall, and my road to redemption. It’s by no means a puff piece.”
Lillo also reflected on his past drug addiction, saying he abused substances “as a young kid — 16, 17, 18." He said, "It started off with marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, but then it progressed to smoking crack cocaine, snorting heroin and pretty much everything else. The access to it early on was so easy. I saw so many people doing it.”
When asked if he used drugs while working on hit HBO series “The Sopranos,” Lillo admitted, “I did. I was high on heroin…. heroin is a physically addictive drug, so it gets to the point where it’s very habit-forming and you actually need it to function normally.”
Does he have any regrets? The 42-year-old revealed, “I would say I would probably have stayed closer to Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri. At that time, I had three fathers; I had my own dad and I had Mr. De Niro and Mr. Palminteri who really took me under their wing and tried to warn me about what would happen and I kind of shrugged it off. I was so young and I didn’t think that it would happen to me, and that it would happen to everyone else.”
As for the last time he met up with De Niro, Lillo commented, “I saw Mr. De Niro on the set of 'The Irishman' about a year ago and that was great seeing him. We spoke for a little bit, He was very concerned. He was very pleased to see that I turned my life around. He asked if I was okay, and I said, 'Yeah, Bob, I’m okay.'”
“Wasted Talent” is available now on video and On Demand.