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"A lot of people out there remember me as a very bad man, a dangerous man. But, and this is something I want to say: I'm sorry for a lot of the things I've done in the past."

"One thing I want everybody who's gonna read this to know and to believe and understand: if I did you wrong in the past, I'm very sorry, and when I make it big I'll take care of every one of you."

The quotes below were taken from a number of recent interviews, all reproduced here by kind permission.

© 1999 FeatureNet. This material may be quoted verbatim, providing The Official Richard Castellano Website is credited.

approach and be recognized
Just because my name ends with a vowel doesn't mean I only like to hear from or mix with Italians! I've never been that way. I'm race-, culture-, creed- and color-blind. My problem is that I want to get to know everybody, and life's too short to do the rounds, to meet everyone, there's no time - even if that was all that you ever did was to meet people. You think you won't get my attention? Just try me. Don't be shy. Listen - if your heart's beating I want to talk to you... If your heart ain't beating then I'm outta here before the cops come.

I mean I've never seen any reason for prejudice: there isn't any in a football game - they play as a team and they get respect from everyone. In Vietnam the black guys wound up as dead as the white ones. Maybe it sounds crazy coming from me, with all my faults, with my past life and history, but I want to see a better world than the one I was born into.
kicking drink
How did I quit drinking? How did I kick it? I told myself: "Tomorrow I'll have a drink." Then when tomorrow came, I told myself the same. You've got to weigh up the options a day at a time. That's how I live my life: a day at a time.

Alcohol - or any kind of addiction - is like trouble: it's easy to get into and the hardest thing in the world to get out of. But nothing is impossible. I firmly believe in the maxim: "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Good maxim, and it rhymes - there's a bonus.

the Grim Reaper
"I've never been frightened of anything. Always fearless. I've never been frightened of death. I've been shot and I laughed. I challenge death every day. When Death comes along, I'll fight tooth and nail with a big smile on my face.

I've always been a fighter. When I was young - I mean very young - I was a boxer... a good one. I fought Theo Antefermo and Bobby Cassidy: Theo Antefermo was at one time the middleweight champion of the world. I could have had a career in the ring, but the stress that I was going through, because of the murders I was seeing, made me an alcoholic by the time I was 12 or 13. It got so I would have to have a bottle of wine before I went into the ring. Later on, when I was in Attica, Sing-Sing, all these places, these penitentiaries, I kept fighting. I fought Surf Malloy, who fought Mohammed Ali. Out of 95 fights I had 87 wins.
on the streets
There was a period when I was in hiding from the mob - a contract was out on me, everybody was looking for Richie Castellano, and nobody could find me, because I was invisible. And you know why? Because I was homeless, I was living as a bum: I walked the streets, I hung around, I didn't wash, I had a filthy beard. And I used to hang around the sidewalks and listen to some of these guys that were trying to find me, and I'd listen to them tell people how they were gonna cut my throat, and they would look right through me because the guy sittin' or standin' there was this bum with a beard - no place to go. And if they had recognized me, if they'd known who I was, then they'd have had fear in their hearts.

There was one time in those days I went into a shelter for the homeless, and they treated me like dirt, told me I had only 24 hours then I had to get out, gave me a pair of dirty shoes with holes in 'em. I hadn't been there very long before I got a good idea what was going on in that place and who was who, and, more particularly, who was pretending to be what. I picked on the biggest snitch in the place, homed in on the rat in the facility, the institution's spy, and I whispered to him "Don't tell anybody" - because I knew he would tell EVERYBODY - I told him I was an undercover cop, there to check the place out.

Well, from a couple of hours after that conversation I was treated like a king, the people in charge there couldn't do enough for me. They told me I could stay as long as I liked, and they gave me food and a new pair of shoes, and when it came time for me to leave they gave me five hundred bucks as a going-away present - pretty much because they just wanted me to go away.

So I know what it's like to be homeless, to be starving, to sleep rough on the sidewalk, in doorways, to stay in these places they have for the homeless - to be stripped of your dignity. I know what it is to be hunted. So now I'm in a movie with Robert De Niro, am I gonna change? Am I gonna suddenly forget all that? No. That's never gonna change because I've been through it all, and I can never forget. I don't want to forget. Even when I was sitting in my cell in the various penitentiaries, and I was just sitting there, I wasn't really there at all, because my mind was outside, back in Brooklyn, replaying everything that had happened and rehearsing what was gonna happen when I was finally set free. I just thank God for what I have, and for what life is now, and that those days are over.