Spike Lee and John Turturro honour Danny Aiello at funeral

Spike Lee

Filmmakers Spike Lee and John Turturro paid special tributes to actor Danny Aiello at his memorial service in New York City on Thursday.

Aiello, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work in Lee's 1989 classic, Do the Right Thing, passed away at the age of 86 on 12 December after battling an undisclosed illness. A week later, his friends and family members packed into the Riverside Memorial Chapel to honour his memory.

Lee was among those to deliver eulogies at the funeral, and he recalled having a tough time convincing Aiello to sign on to the movie.

"Danny was kind of reluctant," he remembered, according to the New York Post. "You know, we had different backgrounds... he was Catholic, he was raised in Manhattan. I'm Brooklyn. He was reluctant, so I took him to a Knick (basketball) game.

"Then I took him to Yankees stadium... He said, 'I'll do your film.'"

It marked the start of a friendship that lasted three decades, and Lee was able to have one last meaningful conversation with Aiello just days before his death.

"(We had a) private conversation and I told him I loved him," Lee shared. "He said, 'Alright, alright, alright.' I said, 'No, Danny.' I'm just blessed to have known Danny and the great Aiello family."

Aiello's Do the Right Thing co-star, Turturro, also had fond memories of their friendship and remembered his pal as someone who was "just bursting with life".


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