Giancarlo Giannini. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution — Author: John Mathew Smith and License:
One of Italian greatest movie stars who seems to never age and keeps entertaining international audiences with his riveting performances is Giancarlo Giannini. His talent has been recognized all over the world and he has been able to move effortlessly between Italy and Hollywood, crossing over into big American productions.
Giannini was born in La Spezia, Liguria but grew up in Naples. It’s a little known fact that he didn’t study to become an actor, rather to be an electronic engineer. His childhood dream was to become an inventor, and although he eventually pursued a career in acting, he never stopped making new gizmos and he still enjoys doing it to this day.
He invented, for example, the full of gadgets, moving jacket Robin Williams wears in the movie Toys, effectively marrying his true passion to his love for cinema. He says that Naples was a big inspiration and it played a big role informing and nurturing his creativity. The imagination and originality of Neapolitan people is very peculiar and cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Giannini inherited that kind of imagination from the city he spent his formative years in and he has been applying it to his roles in the movies since.
When he was eighteen he moved to Rome to attend the Academy of Dramatic Art D’Amico, he started off in plays and made his film debut in the mid sixties. He soon started a thriving collaboration with legendary Italian director Lina Wertmüller that would last for years. Together they would end up making some of the most celebrated classics of Italian Cinema such as Travolti da un insolito destino nell’azzurro mare d’agosto (Swept Away) and Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties). For the latter he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, one of those rare cases where a non-English performance gets its deserved recognition at the Oscars.
In his flourishing career he has played a large variety of characters, including everyday men, mobsters, police officers and historical figures, often using a different regional dialect in which he’s a master. His powerful voice sets him apart, in fact it allowed him to have also a long standing career in dubbing international movie stars.
Dubbing movies in Italy is a successful business, voices are often provided by trained actors, in some cases famous actors, that make sure to give a performance that matches, and sometimes surpasses, the original. Giannini’s work in lending his voice to famous stars such as Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman has been praised by many filmmakers. Stanley Kubrick who directed Nicholson in The Shining sent a personal letter to Giannini complimenting him on dubbing the American actor. Coming from a perfectionist such as Kubrick was a testament to the hard work and commitment of Giannini. In 1994 he won the Nastro d’Argento Award (given by the Italian film critics association) for dubbing Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way.
His method acting has often been compared to the one of the Actors Studio, so it’s easy to understand why American cinema embraced him with open arms. He took part in Francis Ford Coppola’s segment “Life without Zoe” in New York Stories, he was inspector Pazzi in Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott and a police officer for his brother Tony Scott in Man on Fire. He has also had a recurring role in the 007 reboot as intelligence operative Rene Mathis in Casino Royale and the following Quantum of Solace. Just recently Giannini added a significant honor to the list of awards he collected in his prestigious career.
He was the first to receive a star on the Italian Walk of Fame of Toronto in Canada. Toronto is home to one of the largest community of Italians outside of Italy, which led to the decision in 2009 to launch an historic event that would celebrate extraordinary achievements by deserving individuals of Italian heritage. Appropriately the star was placed in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy.
Giannini’s latest endeavor was getting behind the camera twenty six years after his directorial debut called Ternosecco. The name of his sophomore feature as a director is The Gambler Who Wouldn’t Die (Ti ho cercata in tutti i necrologi

The mystery of the unknown is what fascinates the actor the most, it sparks his curiosity towards life, he says, and it propels him into always creating something new, be it a new invention or a new character.
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