August 08, 1983 12:00 PM

Running errands around his neighborhood in New York City one afternoon in 1977, actor Robert Duvall was struck by the sight of a 7-year-old boy, his eyes ablaze with adult passion and fury, beseeching a woman in her 20s. “If you don’t love me no more, Patricia,” he threatened, “I’m gonna move to Cincinnati.” At that moment Duvall vowed, “I’ve got to get that kid on film.”

Now the movie spawned by that chance encounter, Angelo My Love, is in nationwide release. The film’s star is Angelo Evans, a street-smart Gypsy who was hailed by one critic as “a mini-Don Juan oozing prepubescent sexuality and charm.” The movie, which is largely fiction, revolves around Angelo and his Gypsy family, all of whom play themselves. As writer, director and co-producer, Duvall crafted the screenplay by talking to Angelo and meeting his friends and relations in New York City.

Now 13, the still-independent Angelo lives a life the PTA would frown on. He often haunts the disco palaces of New York City until 3 in the morning, then taxis back to his parents’ house in Queens, where he snoozes until the soaps come on. Angelo says his mother, a “psychic reader,” and his father, a “car trader,” take a casual attitude toward their son’s nightclubbing: “As long as I spend an hour or two with them each day, then I can do whatever I want.”

Like many Gypsies who shun education because it forces contact with the gadjo (non-Gypsy) world, Angelo has all but dropped out of school and can neither read nor write. (During filming he and the other Gypsies improvised or were fed lines by Duvall.)

Charmed by his performance, various networks and filmmakers have suggested other roles. Angelo, however, keeps his relationship with the gadjo world in perspective. “You drink a little Pepsi, you drink a little Coke. You get two flavors out of life,” he says, “but I’ll never lose touch with the Gypsies. I can go to them, and they’ll always give me a chair to sit down on.”

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