Hill, Henry

By Dominick A. Miserandino,
The movie Goodfellas was based on one of the first Mafia informants, Henry Hill. Henry talks about what he's doing now, having been in hiding for 21 years, and how he views his life, in retrospect.

DM) How valid are the threats that you receive?

HH) You've got to read some of the e-mails I get. At this point, who knows, it's been 21 years. But trust me, I guard my privacy. Over the Internet I've received numerous threats and I've been posting them as "the best threats of the week."

DM) Now that you're not in the Witness Protection Program any longer, who is responsible for protecting you?

HH) The FBI is responsible for that now. With the Witness Protection Program, I was all over the
country. In fact, I've got a cookbook coming out which tells how I was able to get Italian food. It reveals the way I got the ingredients and substituted the spices I needed, all while I was on the run.

DM) What is a typical day like for you nowadays?

HH) I have two TV shows in pre-production, two scripts, and I've recently written a cookbook. It's insane. I also do a lot of consulting. I'm a part-time drug and alcohol counselor on the side; I work with local kids.

DM) Do the kids that you work with know who you were?

HH) Some do; some of them get it. I certainly don't flaunt it. Most of the time they do know who I am. I tell them that if I can change, they can change, too. Most of them are disadvantaged kids who have gotten in trouble.

DM) Have you changed your life successfully, though?

HH) I tell you, it was difficult. It was a 21-year struggle and it's still a struggle every day. You know you grow in different directions. First of all, you have to give up the drugs and alcohol and after that it's a continuing process.

DM) Do you feel that as of now you've completely turned your life around, or are you still in the process?

HH) Oh, I'm still in the process. Working with others is a big part of it. It's a wonderful thing to
have gotten as far as I have.

DM) Is it a battle that will go on for the rest of your life

HH) I don't call it a battle; I call it a journey. It's not a battle any longer, although in the beginning it might have been... It's a journey every day.

DM) You mention on your website that you can see your old haunts--be JFK, etc... You also say that you were back to some of these areas only 10 years ago, even though you stopped this way of life 21 years ago. (both laughing) Why did you go back only 10 years ago?

HH) Oh, I went back with a camera crew, with Howard Stern. (laughing)

DM) What kind of feelings did the experience bring back to you?

HH) Oh, it stirred up a lot of emotions, and I don't even know where to start.

DM) A lot of people idolize the lifestyle you've led. How do you look at it, now?

HH) Now, looking back? Well, I cannot change my past. I would not recommend that way of life for somebody else. I'll spend all the time I can in trying to talk somebody out of living like that and explain to him there are two alternatives: death and prison. You're not going be able to stay in that lifestyle... such a miserable life.

DM) In the movie, "The Godfather", he eventually moves to Sicily and retires. Is it possible for anybody to do that? To lead that lifestyle successfully?

HH) No. Look at Gravano and what happened to him. I'm a miracle. I think the only reason I was fortunate was that people didn't give up on me.

DM) The movie, "My Blue Heaven", was based on your life, is that right?

HH) Oh yeah, that was based on my life... It was written by Nicholas Pileggi's wife after talking to me night after night.

DM) Were there any specific scenes that actually did happen?

HH) A lot of them... a lot of those scenes follow my life at that time. I did run into some guys that were in the program just like in the movie.

DM) Was that dangerous at all?

HH) Not really, they're in the program too. We don't have a convention at Caesar's every year but occasionally I'd run into them.

DM) Has there ever been a point in the past 21 years that you were more scared or worried than at any other time?

HH) I'm scared and worried every day, just like everybody else. Life is life. Just walking in Manhattan you've got to be scared. It's the same thing. What degree of being scared are you going to be? I have two guardian angels in my life. When I was born, my mother said she gave me two guardian angels and I believe there's something to that. I'm never alone in that sense.


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