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Tag Archives: best actor award at Cannes

By Ella Ide | AFP 

Aniello Arena, the winsome Neapolitan  in the running for best actor award at Cannes, is a former mafia hitman serving a life sentence who got his lucky break in a prison theatre company.

Arena, 44, has won over critics with his performance in Matteo Garrone’s “Reality” as a struggling Naples fishmonger and minor con artist who becomes obsessed with becoming a contestant on the reality TV show “Big Brother”.

With his roguish smile and playful air, Arena reveals little of his dark past as a member of a hit squad which shot dead rival clan members in the grimy suburbs of Naples in 1991, and wounded an eight-year-old child in the process.

“Arena’s a quiet type. He’s not at all flashy and he never shows off, not even now he’s getting all this attention,” Armando Punzo, the theatre director in Volterra prison where the actor is serving out his time, told AFP.

  read more Ella Ide for AFP