Euro-crime Henchmen / Stunt Actors you'll recognize

by Aylmer | created - 25 Sep 2017 | updated - 01 Oct 2017 | Public

A list of the top actors who play goons, henchmen, thugs, and lower-level mobsters in every Euro-crime Italian Cop and Gangster "Poliziotteschi" film, often killed or beaten up by Maurizio Merli, Franco Nero, or Fabio Testi.

1. Romano Puppo

Actor | Fuga dal Bronx

Romano Puppo was born on March 25, 1933 in Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy. He is known for his work on Escape from the Bronx (1983), Tough Guys (1974) and Uppercut (1978). He died on May 11, 1994 in Trieste.

Extremely recognizable with his silver hair and statuesque Roman features (although the actor was born and died in Trieste), this former acrobat was the perfect antagonist for the similarly acrobatic Giuliano Gemma in an early crime movie. Puppo mainly played heavies all throughout his career and was often dubbed over by Nick Alexander.

2. Benito Pacifico

Stunts | Cutthroat Island

Round-faced, high-hairlined stuntman who started as a bit part actor in Italian Westerns. He was immediately noticed for his athletic ability and given large supporting roles and even a few starring roles in some low-budget Westerns, often opposite Gordon Mitchell. Even with the demise of the ...

Similar in his appearance to Di Luia, though never bespectacled and far more ubiquitous, Pacifico was the go-to guy for losing fistfights with tough-guy protagonists.

3. Riccardo Petrazzi

Stunts | Night on Earth

Riccardo Petrazzi was born on July 12, 1938 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Night on Earth (1991), Warriors of the Wasteland (1983) and Screamers (1979). He died on June 3, 2003 in Rome.

Petrazzi was also a stunt coordinator and assistant director, of invaluable help to making all of Umberto Lenzi's crime movies as unforgettable and consistent as they were. Petrazzi almost always sported a mustache and long, unkempt hair, complete with craggy face and sinister blue eyes. He was the perfect villain to get in a car chase with or for Maurizio Merli to shoot once or twice.

4. Franco Ukmar

Stunts | The Last Temptation of Christ

Franco Ukmar was born on March 29, 1936 in Rome, Italy. He is known for his work on The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), 2020 Texas Gladiators (1983) and The Inglorious Bastards (1978). He died on August 10, 2016 in Rome.

With dark Mediterranean looks and thick black hair, Ukmar usually plays interchangeable background henchmen, sometimes of a variety of ethnicities. Ukmar may best be remembered from his multiple Castellari films, including the original INGLORIOUS BASTARDS in which he (like fellow oft-cast henchman Angelo Ragusa) dies dozens of time.

5. Pietro Torrisi

Actor | Popeye

Pietro Torrisi was born on January 20, 1940 in Catania, Italy. He is known for his work on Popeye (1980), Casanova (2005) and The Arena (1974).

A large, muscle-bound Arnold Schwarzeneggeresque stuntman and actor, Torrisi was one of the few people who starred both in the first round (the 1960's) and second (the 1980's) rounds of Peplum movies. Torrisi usually played a none-too-bright henchman to briefly intimidate the hero before being killed.

6. Luciano Pigozzi

Actor | Il mondo di Yor

Luciano Pigozzi was born on January 10, 1927 in Novellara, Reggio Emilia, Italy. He was an actor and production manager, known for Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), Death Will Have Your Eyes (1974) and Robowar - Robot da guerra (1988). He died on June 14, 2008 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

In his middle-age, Pigozzi (who had been seen as a Peter Lorre knockoff in several horror movies throughout the 60's) made the smooth transition to playing sinister criminals all through the 70's. His characters would often participate in kidnappings and bank holdups, almost always finding quick comeuppance in the end.

Another mug who was born to play a henchman, Smacchi can usually be spotted by his stubble and thick tuft of chest hair always exposed by his partially open shirt. Smacchi usually can be see teamed up with Nello Pazzafini or Claudio Ruffini, best remembered maybe as the goon Maurizio Merli burns on a lighting ballast during a raid on a smut studio in THE CYNIC THE RAT AND THE FIST.

8. Salvatore Billa

Actor | Ginger e Fred

Salvatore Billa was born on March 31, 1943 in Catania, Sicily, Italy. He was an actor, known for Ginger and Fred (1986), The Big Racket (1976) and Year of the Gun (1991). He died on May 22, 2006 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Usually mustachio'd and always the villain, Billa made a career out of playing goons all through the 70's. He has the rare distinction (along with Salvatore Borghese) of playing a euro-henchman even in a mainstream American film GODFATHER III, as well as a brief role near the start of Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. You'll best remember him as the unfortunate goon he gets hit in the face by a pickup truck after fleeing from Maurizio Merli in FROM CORLEONE TO BROOKLYN.

9. Ottaviano Dell'Acqua

Stunts | Zombi 3

Ottaviano Dell'Acqua was born in 1954 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Zombie 3 (1988), Red Sonja (1985) and John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017).

The most ubiquitous of all the Dell'Aqua brothers (there were 4 in total and all were stunt men), Ottaviano is best known for his role as the title role in Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE. Prior to that, he'd made a career getting in many fistfights with eurocrime protagonists. More recently, you'll see him getting his fists bloody, punching out those who stand in the way of Daniel Day-Lewis in GANGS OF NEW YORK. A born henchman if there ever was one.

10. Nello Pazzafini

Actor | La piovra 4

Nello Pazzafini was born on May 15, 1934 in Rome, Lazio, Italy as Giovanni Pazzafini. He is known for his work on La piovra 4 (1989), Long Live Robin Hood (1971) and Carambola (1974). He died on November 27, 1997 in Ostia, Rome.

Maybe one of the most ubiquitous of the bunch, Pazzafini is another Spaghetti Western henchman who found himself taking on contemporary versions of the same roles. Not just physical, but, much like Romano Puppo a very good actor, Pazzafini would land the meatier roles as Henchman #2 or lead enforcer. Seldom will you see him live through a film however.

11. Claudio Ruffini

Actor | Uno sceriffo extraterrestre... poco extra e molto terrestre

Claudio Ruffini was born on June 26, 1940 in Perugia, Umbria, Italy. He is known for his work on Uno sceriffo extraterrestre... poco extra e molto terrestre (1979), Tough Guys (1974) and Super Fuzz (1980). He died on November 30, 1999 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France.

Big and bloated with Germanic features and sandy blondish hair, Ruffini specialized in physical roles and taking a lot of physical abuse from Eurocrime protagonists. You'll best remember him as bouncers and the like, particularly as the door guard Merli wastes in THE CYNIC THE RAT AND THE FIST as well as in SYNDICATE SADISTS (similarly as an ill-fated door guard).

12. Sergio Testori

Stunts | Ashanti

Sergio Testori is known for his work on Ashanti (1979), Atlantis Interceptors (1983) and Rome (2005).

An Umbero Lenzi favorite, you'll notice Sergio by his blue eyes, sandy blonde hair, and generally generic and unassuming appearance. He's perfect as low level thugs and criminals who don't want to draw too much attention from anyone else. Testori plays the motorcycle thug in ROMA A MANO ARMATA who tries to rob a woman after giving her erroneous help on her broken down automobile.

13. Luciano Rossi

Actor | Luca il contrabbandiere

Short and hunchbacked, but lively character actor Luciano Rossi first appeared in small background roles in a number of Spaghetti Westerns in the late 60s. He went on to appear in several films, almost exclusively as a small-time criminal (a bandit in the many Spaghetti Westerns he was in, and then...

Stereotyped as a wimpy, cowardly pervert from the get-go with his debut as a wimpy, horny gangmember in DJANGO, Rossi popped up almost exclusively as villains all throughout his storied career in a number of genres. He'll best be remembered as the child murderer in VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS or the unfortunate rapist who impales himself on a fence in VIOLENT NAPLES.

14. Angelo Ragusa

Stunts | Spectre

Angelo Ragusa was born on September 10, 1952. He is known for his work on Spectre (2015), Daylight (1996) and Quantum of Solace (2008). He died on March 14, 2018.

Another favorite Castellari performer, stuntman Ragusa (resembling a fit version of Joe Spinell) almost always played small parts as henchmen all the way through til the 90's, getting a healthy role as such in DOUBLE TEAM.

15. Adolfo Lastretti

Actor | Il giustiziere sfida la città

Adolfo Lastretti was born on November 18, 1937 in Tempio Pausania, Sardinia, Italy. He was an actor, known for Syndicate Sadists (1975), Lion of the Desert (1980) and Shaft in Africa (1973). He died on May 5, 2018 in Loiano, Bologna, Italy.

Something about this ghoulish character just comes off as sinister or desperate. He has an excellent role as a somehow sympathetic criminal scumbag in WEAPONS OF DEATH in which an entire park full of people chase him down a la INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS and dispense him a good beating for trying to kidnap a young girl. You'll also love him in A SPECIAL COP IN ACTION as the angry criminal John Saxon easily entices to try (unsuccessfully) to murder Maurizio Merli. One of the few on this list to be killed by SHAFT in an actual SHAFT movie!

16. Mario Novelli

Art_department | Excalibur

Mario Novelli was born on February 26, 1940 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Excalibur (1981), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and The Invincible Brothers Maciste (1964). He died on August 21, 2016.

He's a hard one to spot because he blends into the crowd and often changes his appearance, but the recently-deceased Novelli somewhat resembles American actor Richard Masur. Novelli pops by briefly as a kidnapper in SYNDICATE SADISTS and has the distinction of being one of the final baddies Tomas Milian kills.

17. Riccardo Pizzuti

Actor | Uno sceriffo extraterrestre... poco extra e molto terrestre

Riccardo Pizzuti was born on May 28, 1934 in Cetraro, Calabria, Italy. He is known for his work on Uno sceriffo extraterrestre... poco extra e molto terrestre (1979), Lady Frankenstein (1971) and Turn the Other Cheek (1974).

Another Spaghetti Western henchman making an easy transition into the next phase of Italian cinema playing more contemporary versions of the same characters. Pizzuti can be recognized by his grizzled, angry-looking face and long white hair. In addition to many straight-laced action roles he'd often pop up as a popular antagonist to Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill in many of their pseudo-comedic beat-em-ups over the years.

18. Osiride Pevarello

Actor | Caligola

Osiride Pevarello was born on July 26, 1920 in Padua, Veneto, Italy. He is known for his work on Caligula (1979), The Hills Run Red (1966) and A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (1968). He died on December 15, 2016 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

A son of a large gypsy family who moved into stunt performing and eventually acting, Pevarello often made use of his imposing muscular physique and scary face with large nose and tiny eyes. Pevarello went on to play similar parts in the 80's. You'll notice him as the easily distracted gate guard in Castellari's THE BIG RACKET.

19. Renzo Pevarello

Actor | Rage - Fuoco incrociato

Renzo Pevarello is known for his work on A Man Called Rage (1984), Days of Hell (1986) and Willy Signori e vengo da lontano (1989).

Brother of Osiride, you'll spot Renzo as gunmen in many Di Leo and Castellari crime films, usually around just long enough to shoot and miss someone before he instead bites the farm.

20. Massimo Vanni

Actor | Zombi 3

Massimo Vanni was born in 1946. He is known for his work on Zombie 3 (1988), Delitto al ristorante cinese (1981) and Shocking Dark (1989).

Cousin of Enzo G. Castellari and of close resemblance to Tim Roth, you'll see Massimo Vanni pop up regularly on both sides of the law in many Eurocrime movies. In at least two such films, he gets shot from a floor below in his groin by Franco Nero.

21. Robert Hundar

Actor | Antes llega la muerte

Robert Hundar was born on January 12, 1935 in Castelvetrano, Sicily, Italy as Claudio Undari. He was an actor, known for Hour of Death (1964), Vengeance of Hercules (1960) and Roland the Mighty (1956). He died on May 12, 2008 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Former Spaghetti Western star (billed as Robert Hundar to pass himself off as an American) reduced to playing smaller and smaller character parts as he lost his hair and gained weight to look more and more like a greasy hit man in lieu of a hero.

22. Giovanni Cianfriglia

Actor | La sfida dei giganti

Giovanni Cianfriglia was born on April 5, 1935 in Anzio, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Hercules the Avenger (1965), The Jewel of the Nile (1985) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).

A favorite holdover from the peplum and spaghetti western days of Italian cinema, Cianfriglia had a hard face but found himself in sometimes sympathetic roles as criminals with a code of ethics. You'll best remember him as Rudy's chief racketeer in THE BIG RACKET.

23. Claudio Pacifico

Stunts | Gangs of New York

Claudio Pacifico was born on May 9, 1963 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Gangs of New York (2002), 6 Underground (2019) and Body of Lies (2008).

Son of Benito, Claudio got a late start on the business as a henchman in such films as DAY OF THE COBRA but continues his career today.

24. Rosario Borelli

Actor | Con la rabbia agli occhi

Rosario Borelli was born on December 15, 1927 in Cerignola, Puglia, Italy as Rosario Borrelli. He is known for his work on Death Rage (1976), Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and Syndicate Sadists (1975). He died in 2001 in Italy.

Borelli would usually play mustachio'd criminals, using his squinty eyes to appear more intelligent than his fellow lunkheaded goons. You'll usually see him playing underbosses and kidnappers. Decidedly more restrained in his acting technique and not as physical, he was far more likely to get shot rather than beat up or apprehended.

25. Antonio Casale

Actor | Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Antonio Casale was born on May 17, 1932 in Italy. He was an actor and assistant director, known for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Duck, You Sucker (1971) and Loveplay (1972). He died on February 4, 2017.

A holdover from Spaghetti Westerns, best known as the entire motivator for the plot in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Casale can be spotted sweating it up and staring at people in every film he's in. As the perennial quiet, imposing, bushy-haired villain, he's the Brion James of Euro-crime movies.

26. Sal Borgese

Actor | Se incontri Sartana prega per la tua morte

Sal Borgese was born on March 5, 1937 in Rome, Lazio, Italy as Salvatore Borgese. He is known for his work on If You Meet Sartana... Pray for Your Death (1968), The Black Corsair (1976) and Johnny Stecchino (1991).

Sal's career started out playing minor roles in Hollywood biblical epics but you'll love him when you start to recognize him in many Bud Spencer / Terence Hill beatemups. Like his friend Massimo Vanni, Borgese (or is it BorgHese?) often found himself in big fistfights where he takes on multiple opponents at once.

27. Giovanni Bonadonna

Actor | Il grande racket

Giovanni Bonadonna is an actor, known for The Big Racket (1976), The Heroin Busters (1977) and Squadra antigangsters (1979).

Another Enzo G. Castellari favorite, Bonadonna is a big, tough terrorist-type hombre you don't want to mess with... unless you're a protagonist in an Italian cop movie (in which case you'll just shoot him in the face).

28. Omero Capanna

Stunts | Daylight

Omero Capanna was born on April 4, 1942 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Daylight (1996), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). He died on October 11, 2003.

Sometimes henchman, sometimes stoolie or informer, Capanna found himself often just more than a glorified extra. He's the guy who looks kinda like Omar Sharif except a little less Arabic.

29. Roberto Dell'Acqua

Actor | Popeye

Roberto Dell'Acqua was born on April 16, 1946 in Rome, Italy. He is known for his work on Popeye (1980), Life Is Beautiful (1997) and The Big Racket (1976). He died on September 16, 2019 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Another member of the Dell'Acqua stunt clan, Roberto usually plays weaselly thieves and perverts, never lasting very long in any gunfight and often getting beaten to a pulp. You'll love him as the horrible rapist Renzo Palmer shoots to hell in revenge for the loss of his daughter in THE BIG RACKET.

30. Bruno Di Luia

Stunts | Exorcist: The Beginning

Bruno Di Luia was born on April 4, 1943 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), Casanova (2005) and The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Another Umberto Lenzi regular - Di Luia can often be recognized by his large glasses and combover, looking more like an American tourist getting caught up in the action than a native-born Italian.

31. Tommaso Palladino

Actor | Luca il contrabbandiere

Tommaso Palladino is an actor, known for Contraband (1980), Sicilian Connection (1987) and Malanapoli - la ventunesima stella (2013).

More often you'll see him play a mob boss (or under-boss), complete with beady eyes and a pencil-thin mustache, he must have come as a package deal with Enrico Maisto as you'll catch them in several films together.

32. Enrico Maisto

Actor | Luca il contrabbandiere

Enrico Maisto is an actor and producer, known for Contraband (1980), I guappi (1974) and Il prefetto di ferro (1977).

Larger and friendlier looking mobster-type Maisto usually found himself less physical roles as mob under-bosses but certainly took his fair share of squibs and stunt falls over the course of his Euro-crime career.

33. Bruno Corazzari

Actor | Sette note in nero

Bruno Corazzari was born on December 30, 1940 in Castellarano, Italy. He is an actor, known for The Psychic (1977), Fortunata and Jacinta (1970) and How Wonderful to Die Assassinated (1975).

One of the more Germanic-looking Italian actors with a narrow Aryan face and beady blue eyes, Corazzari played villains in a number of genres usually as 2nd or 3rd fiddle to the main villain. You'll best remember him as the guy who murders James Whitmore in HIGH CRIME and curiously lacks any death scene or resolution in CYNIC THE RAT AND THE FIST, even though he's found himself in a shootout with the police.

34. Domenico Cianfriglia

Stunts | Daylight

Domenico Cianfriglia is known for his work on Daylight (1996), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990).

Brother of Giovanni, Domenico perhaps looked too similar but not as tough, so usually found himself in smaller parts. He's still a henchman though, more often than not.

35. Rocco Lerro

Stunts | Leviathan

Rocco Lerro is known for his work on Leviathan (1989), Light Blast (1985) and The Big Racket (1976). He died on August 21, 2005 in Italy.

Seeing as he was a stunt coordinator and stunt driver, when Lerro's on screen you can count on him doing some crazy Jackie Chan-type stunt like jumping off a high building onto a moving vehicle, or driving the car getting in all the crashes in one of many Poliziotteschi chase scenes.

36. Giuseppe Castellano

Actor | L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo

Giuseppe Castellano is known for his work on The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Screamers (1979) and Caliber 9 (1972). He died on March 1, 2010 in Italy.

This ugly mug makes the perfect brute. You'll recognize him as the easy-going follower of the bunch who teams up with detective Sarti in FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP.

37. Biagio Pelligra

Actor | Il capo dei capi

Biagio Pelligra was born on June 24, 1937 in Comiso, Sicily, Italy. He is an actor, known for Il capo dei capi (2007), Treasure Island in Outer Space (1987) and Mathias Sandorf (1979).

Just like Giovanni Cianfriglia but a little shorter and wimpier, Pelligra played mobsters all the way into the new millennium. You'll recognize him by his fiery temper, dark eyebrows, and bald spot. Usually dubbed by Michael Forest.

38. Roberto Messina

Actor | Popeye

Roberto Messina was born on January 2, 1934 in Casablanca, Morocco. He is known for his work on Popeye (1980), Sonny Boy (1989) and Operation Poker (1965).

39. Benito Stefanelli

Stunts | Once Upon a Time in America

Benito Stefanelli was born on September 2, 1928 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on Once Upon a Time in America (1984), A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). He died in December 1999.

40. Goffredo Unger

Assistant_director | Shark: Rosso nell'oceano

Goffredo Unger was born on June 6, 1933 in Oslo, Norway. He was an actor and assistant director, known for Devil Fish (1984), King Solomon's Mines (1985) and Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983). He died in May 2009 in Italy.

41. Emilio Messina

Stunts | Orca

Emilio Messina was born on February 24, 1936 in Casablanca, Morocco. He is known for his work on Orca (1977), SuperSeven Calling Cairo (1965) and Even Angels Eat Beans (1973). He died on April 21, 2007 in Venice, Florida, USA.

42. Marco Stefanelli

Stunts | The Last Temptation of Christ

Marco Stefanelli was born in 1955 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is known for his work on The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Ladyhawke (1985) and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010).

43. Massimo Bonetti

Director | La settima onda

Massimo Bonetti was born on March 28, 1951 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is an actor and director, known for La settima onda (2015), Voci notturne (1995) and Quando si diventa grandi (2010). He has been married to Giusi Taddei since November 2011.

Just a punk kid out looking to score some bread for his next cappuccino. Also the recipient of many-a-beating. He actually went on to find quite a varied career in Italian films outside the genre.

44. Corrado Solari

Actor | Giù la testa

Corrado Solari was born on July 21, 1950 in Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. He is an actor, known for Duck, You Sucker (1971), The Tough Ones (1976) and The Manhunt (1975).

A low level goon a purse-snatcher type.

45. Paolo Bonetti

Director | Ricominciare 2

Paolo Bonetti is an actor and director, known for Ricominciare 2 (2000), Blues metropolitano (1985) and L'eredità della Priora (1980).

Maybe a relative of the more famous Massimo? Paolo is one of the rare thug/criminal scum to get away in a Eurocrime movie in FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP. He however finds his very painful comeuppance from Maurizio Merli in VIOLENT NAPLES, even with the distinction of being called "crud".

46. Valerio Colombaioni

Stunts | Dellamorte Dellamore

Valerio Colombaioni is known for his work on Cemetery Man (1994), Hornets' Nest (1970) and Long Live Robin Hood (1971).

Holds the rare distinction of being the first person Maurizio Merli tracks down and imprisons/kills in his entire Euro-crime career. Much like how a single Serbian youth shot the Arch Duke Ferdinand to start World War 1, this punk commits the single murder which puts Merli's warpath in motion.

48. Claudio Zucchet

Stunts | Daylight

Claudio Zucchet is known for his work on Daylight (1996), The Jewel of the Nile (1985) and The Passion of the Christ (2004).

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