Face, voice and heart
Adriano Giannini, Roman actor and dubber. His life from the first memory of a set to the latest films
The first time Adriano Giannini and cinema met, it was not love at first sight. But then indeed the sparks did fly. The son of Giancarlo Giannini and of actress, film director and dubber Livia Giampalmo, Adriano had absolutely no interest in filmmaking until the age of 18, when he landed a summer job as a camera operator. That’s when the love began to grow. In 2001, at the age of thirty, he finally stepped out from behind the camera, showcasing his natural talent as an actor, which brought him to work with film directors of the caliber of Paolo Sorrentino, Steven Soderbergh, Gabriele Muccino and Giovanni Veronesi. In 2006, his first experience as a voice actor in Candy, in which he dubbed Heath Ledger, and again in 2009 in The Dark Knight, for which he was awarded the Nastro d’Argento prize, when he had already dubbed Raz Degan in the 2017 film Centochiodi.
2019 was a very intense year for him, both personally- he married Gaia Trussardi this summer and moved to Milan- and professionally. He starred in three films: Vivere, by Francesca Archibugi, with Micaela Ramazzotti, which was shot in Rome and released in September; Tre Piani, by Nanni Moretti, to be released in 2020; and the latest film by Daniele Luchetti, which he was shooting when we met with him at the Hotel de Russie, the exclusive set of the photo shoot by Fabio Lovino, as you’ll see in the pages that follow.
How did you approach the motion-picture world?
Although my parents both work in the filmmaking industry, they got divorced when I was very young, so I didn’t get to see my father working on the set very often. But I did enjoy some unique experiences, such as the set of City of Women by Federico Fellini, which was shot at Cinecittà s famous Teatro 5. It’s my first memory of a set. There were elephants, dancers, roller-coasters…something amazing for a child even on screen, imagine seeing it happen right before your eyes….I started looking for a job as soon as I graduated. But I was not interested in filmmaking. Actually, I had no idea about what I wanted to do, but I did not want to waste my time. So I asked my mother, who was directing a film at the time, if she needed any help, even fetch coffee if that was all I was allowed to do. Instead, chance had it that she needed a camera operator trainee. I had planned to do one film only, I ended up doing more of 40 films, of all genres and all over the world.
In 2002, you starred in Swept Away. What was it like to work with Madonna?
It’s the remake of a film considered to be a cult classic all over the world, even in the United States. It looked like a very complex situation in the beginning: I had to speak English, play the role my father had played and the film director was Madonna’s husband (and the film featured some violent and erotic scenes). Actually, and I’m not sure why, it was one of the easiest films I’ve ever done. And very fun too, Madonna is a kind and pleasant person, besides being very professional.
Please tell us something about your latest films.
One is the first film directed by Moretti I’ve ever done, although we’ve known each other for many years. He is a helpful, loyal and sincere man and I enjoyed working with him. The film directed by Francesca Archibugi is something special. It’s quite fascinating to perform in a film directed by a woman, there’s always a female touch to it. And her filmmaking style is quite peculiar, a mix of comedy and drama, depth and humour. The film is the story of a weird couple going through a crisis in their relationship and a young Irish and very catholic au pair girl. My character is experiencing a deep existential discomfort: he has a hearing loss and does all sorts of things to be able to hear again.
Any special memory?
The first that comes to my mind is associated with a film which you do not know about, because it was not released in Italy: Dolina. I spent five months in the Carpathians to shoot it, a land of wolves and bears, and I was the only Italian there. The cast included a very brilliant and famous Hungarian stage actress, who couldn’t speak a word of English, let alone Italian. One day, she managed to ask me for a lift and, in order to communicate with me and break the silence between us, she started singing a piece of Italian opera music at the top of her voice.
The film director you would enjoy working with?
I would have enjoyed working with Bertolucci. Unfortunately, it is impossible now. But I’ve recently watched Moulin Rouge! again. I find that it is such a perfect, imaginative and bold film. So, I’ll say Baz Luhrmann, or even Paul Thomas Anderson. Am I asking for too much? (he laughs).
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You are, in fact, a brilliant voice actor. You’ve dubbed Raz Degan, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix, even in the Joker film, which was awarded the Gold Lion in Venice….
Sometimes, my mother would bring me along with her when she was dubbing. I remember playing with some huge film reels while I was waiting for her, I would cut them and put them back together. My first successful film as a voice actor was La mala educación by Pedro Almodóvar, he chose my voice himself. As for Joker, it’s a family thing: my father dubbed the old ones, I dub the new ones (he laughs).
What is your relationship with Rome?
I do not come from a Roman family, my parents are Ligurian, my grandparents come from Southern Italy and even other countries, but I was born and raised in Rome. Although I’ve never spent much time in Rome because I’ve always travelled a lot, I love it. The part of the city that I know best is Cinecittà, I can still feel the Fellinesque atmosphere of what it was like back then, with the extras wearing period costumes, the artisans at work, film directors such as Ettore Scola and Francis Ford Coppola. I know every inch of it, every story about it.
You recently moved to Milan for love. How does it feel to come back to Rome now?
Every time I come back to Rome now, I realize that I look at it through different eyes. I don’t take it for granted anymore. Now, I’m fully aware of how romantic, poetic and welcoming it is, a bit shabby, yet so warm and pleasant. Its beauty touches the heart.