When Chris Potamitis was a young man, he took part in the largest cash robbery in US history. In an exclusive interview, Potamitis spoke to Greek Reporter about the real events of the heist, the jail time he faced, and his life today after he co-produced the Hollywood blockbuster “Empire State,” starring Liam Hemsworth and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The film Empire State chronicles the facts of the real-life heist, when the crew stole $11 million from the deposits of the Sentry armored car company in New York City in 1982.
Potamitis, after spending nine years in jail, decided to make a movie about his life and the robbery to show that “people make mistakes and they pay for them.”
Potamitis co-wrote the script and is also a producer of the movie, which stars Liam Hemsworth alongside Mike Angarano, Emma Roberts, Dwayne Johnson, Nikki Reed, Chris Diamantopoulos and others.
It’s hard to believe that Chris Potamitis committed such a serious crime when you meet him today.
The Greek-American businessman and film producer, who looks more like a kind giant who does not hide his past, keeps repeating that he did it “without thinking of the consequences,” and that he is “not proud of it.”
That night, Chris, who was the only guard at Sentry, helped three other Greek-Americans to enter the building and steal the money. They were arrested only two months later when a conspirator broke down and gave them up to the police.
Watch the exclusive interview below:
The life story of Chris Potamitis
Chris Potamitis was born in Sparta and immigrated with his family to the USA as a child in 1966. The immigrant family struggled to get by.
As Potamitis says during our interview, “My dad could not even afford to buy me a bicycle.”
They resided in New York City, and young Chris lived through the tough years of New York City, where crime was a daily routine and, for some people, even an act of glory.
As Chris got older, he found himself surrounded by “the wrong people,” as he calls them.
A teenager then, Potamitis didn’t imagine that the path he had chosen would lead him to prison for many years.
After being arrested for his part in the heist, Potamitis stayed in jail for nine years, but with the help of his family, he once again became part of society. Today, he has a business and lives in New York City with his wife and their three children.
Chris has not remained quiet about his past and he doesn’t try to hide it, as do others who have done jail time.
“Empire State” shows you can turn past mistakes into something positive
After he was released, Potamitis decided to write a script about his life and the robbery, to show the world that sometimes we have the power to turn our mistakes into something positive.
“Yes, I feel redemption and you can definitely see it in the movie,” says Potamitis during our exclusive interview.
He admits that in the beginning it was hard to make the movie and grab people’s attention, but Empire State has remained a hit since its release in 2013. Now, he has plans to make more movies in the near future.
Empire State is a drama centered on two childhood friends who plan to rob the armored car depository — and the NYPD officer who stands in their way.
Greek-Canadian actor Chris Diamantopoulos portrays mob boss Spiro, who believes the two friends might be responsible for the caper, even though the rest of New York believes it was a major criminal conspiracy by the Italian mafia.