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Conversation with Giancarlo Giannini

Giancarlo Giannini was honored with the Excellence Award Moët & Chandon on 13 August at the Locarno International Film Festival. The Conversation took place the following afternoon.

Following his successes in the theater, Giancarlo Giannini made his film debut in 1965 in Gino Mangini’s "I criminali della metropoli." In 1967 this talented singer and dancer took on the popular “musicarello” genre in the film "Non stuzzicate la zanzara" directed by Lina Wertmüller with whom he worked on nine films, including "Seven Beauties," which earned both Giannini and Wertmüller Oscar nominations in 1977. Lina Wertmüller was the first woman director to be nominated for an Oscar.

On acting

My acting training started as a stage actor at the Academy of Dramatic Art D’Amico in Rome; one of the oldest schools in the world. I spent 12 years as a stage actor; that’s a profession you have to give your entire self to. I was like a monk.

Each character I play is someone new. When I approach a new character I don’t think about the previous ones I played or awards I won. This is the fun and fantasy part of it. A character must live. What is a character? It is a result of a fantasy; it’s what the audience wants to see that gets into the fairy tale you’ve heard since you were a child.

On the passing of Robin Williams

I’m very sad about Robin Williams I knew him very well. I worked with him on Toys, a very complicated film. I met him in Rome. He knew I had designed a musical jacket for kids, which had many different sound effects and voices; he asked me to build it for Toys, He wore it in the film. He played the role of a toy inventor. I am very sad.

On Working with Lina Wertmüller

We spent many nights writing scenes together. We also shot screen tests with color plates and tried different costumes to see what the best result would be. As an actor I could transform myself using different costumes, make up, and so on.

On starring in "Lili Marleen" directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder had the joy of courage to just dare to do something in his films. Fassbinder had courage. If you don’t make mistakes, if you don’t have the guts, you can’t progress.

I ask Giannini about his role in "Seven Beauties" as the complicated, often unlikeable protagonist, Pasqualino, who will do anything he can just to survive

I started working with my own fantasy, asking how to flesh out this character. In creating characters I put two kilos inside my boots to give me a different way of walking, try on different costumes and make up. In this film I created a sort of monster. That was a challenge but I believed in this story.

At the end of Seven Beauties, Pasqualino is first seen just in shadow. It was a strong ending of the film. The final sequence is a close-up of me looking at the audience into the camera, staring at the audience for a long time. It was difficult for us; I was trying to keep my eyes open and never blink while keeping this strong image. This was the first day of the shoot.

On Cinema

Cinema is not reality, you take a camera and you follow the action. In cinema you are given the markers and given clues and the beauty is to make a fable.

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell presents international workshops and seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! and The Savvy Screenwriter, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide., .

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