NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Actor William Demeo’s familiarity with New York City in a time when mobsters ruled helped him land a role in the new film “Gotti,” starring John Travolta as the title character.

“I miss it so much the way it used to be,” said Demeo to CBS2’s Alex Denis. “We used to play Wiffle ball, hang out. It was insane.”

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“Gotti” tells the story of infamous so-called “Teflon Don” John Gotti who ruled as a powerful boss of Gambino crime family in New York City.

Demeo plays Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, the man responsible turning and helping the FBI take down Gotti.

The actor’s Bensonhurst roots give him an intimate familiarity with knowing what was on every street corner, ever fixture of the city’s neighborhoods.

“You’d walk by a corner and see five, six guys hanging out,” he said. “In front of the club, 2 or 3 (p.m.) in the afternoon, pinky rings on their fingers, Cadillac out front.”

As part of Gotti’s crew, Gravano himself also cast a long shadow.

“You couldn’t not know people who knew Sammy,” said Demeo.

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John Gotti and his wife, Victoria, are played by John Travolta and his real-life wife, Kelly Preston.

Demeo says Travolta had Gotti’s mannerisms down, even dressing the part and wearing his belongings.

“He had his handkerchiefs, he had his rings, he had his ties,” he said. “It was crazy.”

And off the set, the scene of family continued.

“He’s a really good guy, John Travolta, and he deserves everything that he has,” said Demeo.

Demeo’s stand out scene came when his character initiates John Gotti Jr. into the Gambino crime family.

“I felt magic in that scene,” he said. “It came together really well.””

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“Gotti” also stars Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor and Chris Mulkey, and opens nationwide today.