Hidden Figures director Theodore Melfi's violent dad was a member of the Mafia.
The Oscar nominee has opened up about his odd and often violent upbringing in a startling new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, revealing his relationship with his father ended badly after a fight - and sent him to therapy for a decade.
"He was the life of the party...," Melfi says of of his father, "but he was in the mob for 40 years. He did numbers-running and collections and Mickey Mouse stuff.
"He was violent, always. He'd slap you in the face if you just said the wrong word. And then in the same breath, he'd hug you and cry... and tell you he loved you. He was all over the place.
"I loved him, but you could never predict what he was going to be, who you were going to get that day. When he walked behind me, the hairs on my neck stood up. To this day, if I ever have that feeling, I don't feel safe. I spent 10 years in therapy."
"My dad was not a good man by any means," he adds. "He was violent and abusive. Physically, mentally, emotionally. That's how I grew up. I grew up with just pure insanity.
"The last time I saw him, I was 16. He'd come to the house and was being abusive to my brothers. I was now his size, and bigger and stronger, and I remember hitting him for the first time in my life... He got in his car and drove away. I don't know what happened to him. He died in Hollywood, Florida, and was buried with no cause of death listed. He was 69 years old. I never saw him again."
Melfi reveals his dad also had a failed run as New York governor: "My dad was crazy, but people loved him. He wanted to be a politician and ran for governor, all funded by the mob...," he smiles. "I remember (Andrew) Cuomo (current New York Governor) speaking in a park. My dad got out with his megaphone and started screaming, 'You motherf**ker, you won't debate me!' and screaming and screaming, with all of us around. And then the police took him away."
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