Gravesend Native Will DeMeo was seen filming with John Travolta near the corner of Bath and 17th Avenues on Tuesday, February 21 for the upcoming film “The Life and Death of John Gotti,” to be released in 2017.
In the role of Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, DeMeo told this paper that maintaining his character was easy so long as he kept remembering “when John barked, Sammy bit.”
“I’m an old soul. I love playing characters from older times because it’s challenging.” said DeMeo, when asked if playing the historic role differed his process. For the actor, another big part of what helps is being directed by Kevin Connolly. “He’s an actor’s director. He lets you do what you gotta do.”
Aside from character work this means gaining back 12 pounds lost for his previous film “Back in the Day,” where he plays a lean boxer. To help complete the image of this 80’s crime drama, Cadillac Club organizers from Brooklyn and Staten Island put vintage cars on the street.
Also featured in the cast is Bartholomew “Bobby” Boriello’s son, whose father was employed by the Gambino crime family and shot in Bensonhurst in 1991.
For DeMeo, one of Tuesday’s memorable moments was the crowd. “People were throwing out lines from ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ Everyone’s phone was in the air. It felt like Brooklyn was reborn,” he said, noting also that the moment lessened his feelings that people in the neighborhood had moved away, and that he was happy to see the faces he hadn’t seen in years.
An alum of the Our Lady of Grace school, DeMeo said he was never a student of the performing arts, though, this hasn’t stopped him from creating a separate project called “The Neighborhood,” which starts shooting in June. That series is based on the actor’s Brooklyn experience in the 80s, and is currently casting actors to ensure the result will be “as real as it gets.”
“I just always, when I’m back in Brooklyn, I feel so at home and at peace,” said DeMeo, when asked what inspired the project. He also said the series would be filming in Borough Park and Gravesend, aside from other parts of Brooklyn.
Visitors on set included State Senator Marty Golden and Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella, among others.
This is just one of many ventures for DeMeo, who spoke with the Brooklyn Reporter in December about his exciting year ahead.