Louis Giovanni "Gianni" Russo is an American actor and singer.
Russo was raised in Rosebank, Staten Island. He claims that he has Mafia connections and that his uncle was a soldier in the Gambino crime family. There are claims that the Gambinos persuaded Francis Ford Coppola to cast Russo as Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather movie. After reprising the Rizzi character in a brief flashback scene at the end of The Godfather Part II, Russo went on to act in more than 35 movies, including The Freshman, Super Mario Bros., Any Given Sunday, and Seabiscuit.
Russo claims that he started a fledgling career in organized crime working as an errand boy and mob associate for Frank Costello as an adolescent but later abandoned the dangerous and volatile lifestyle of organized crime.
In his 2006 book Supermob, investigative reporter Gus Russo writes that Gianni Russo secured his role in The Godfather by acting as an intermediary between Paramount Studios and New York Mafia don Joe Colombo Sr., whose Italian American Anti-Defamation League had shut down early production of the film in Manhattan. Colombo met with the film executives, who then hired Russo to play Carlo after Russo had earlier threatened Marlon Brando, who thought he was acting and was so impressed that he changed his objections and had him hired.