That Time Godfather Cast A Real Mafia Enforcer To Play Luca Brasi

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That Time Godfather Cast A Real Mafia Enforcer To Play Luca Brasi

Marlon Brando, arguably, may give the definitive performance of The Godfather as the legendary cinematic mob boss Don Corleone, but one of the film’s most memorable scene stealers is Lenny Montana, who is intimidatingly convincing as the Corleone Family’s trusted gun-for-hire Luca Brasi. That may be because Montana was, at one time, an actual mafia enforcer.

Yes, that is correct. A redditor recently dug up this fascinating bit of trivia on The Godfather. The mob activity depicted in Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award-winning gangster masterpiece was not all smoke and mirrors. In fact, Lenny Montana was not the only person to appear in The Godfather with real-life mafia connections. However, the story of how he was cast, and the on-set antics that ensued, is an especially intriguing one.

Born Leonardo Passafaro in 1926,  the Italian-American made his first break into stardom was as a professional wrestler in the 1950s under the nickname “The Zebra Kid” before actually making his film debut as a grocer in the drama Change of Habit, starring Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore. However, it was not that uncredited role that got Francis Ford Coppola’s attention, inspiring him to cast him.

Lenny Montana was already on the set of The Godfather, working as a bodyguard for a mobster who was sent by the Italian-American Civil Rights League, as well as the Colombo crime family, to make sure the word “mafia” was never spoken in the film. When Francis Ford Coppola laid eyes on the 6’6”, 320-pound frame of the Brooklyn native, he knew he had found his Luca Brasi.

That Time Godfather Cast A Real Mafia Enforcer To Play Luca Brasi

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