Marco Giallini. The great Roman actor discusses memories, friendships and secret dreams
It is one of the most famous faces of Italian cinema. His voice, unmistakable, is something extremely familiar
He is one of the most popular faces of Italian cinema. His unmistakable voice sounds extremely familiar. So, when you first talk to him, it feels like you’ve always known him, although he enjoys wrong-footing you with his delightfully irreverent sense of humor and well-known digressions. Marco Giallini, a born-and-bred Roman. His career to date includes over 50 films, such as ACAB - All Cops Are Bastards with Pierfrancesco Favino, Tutta colpa di Freud and Perfetti Sconosciuti by Paolo Genovese, Beata ignoranza with Alessandro Gassmann and Domani è un altro giorno with Valerio Mastandrea, released in February. He will soon be back on the big screen starring in Villetta con ospiti by Ivano De Matteo, a film noir with seven leading characters, as many as the deadly sins.
Your father was a great cinema buff. Did you become an actor thanks to him?
There’s a little bit of an actor in all of us, but doing it from the heart, to make people absorb your emotions is another thing entirely, that’s when you’re a real actor, and you know it. My father’s passion, however, spurred me on. He was a factory worker, he sometimes mispronounced the names, but he understood cinema. He enjoyed watching French films, he talked about Truffaut and drove me to the movie sets on his motorbike. Once there was this war film set, I don’t remember the title, but I believe Gina Lollobrigida was starring in it, she was not a young girl, but still very “Gina”.
You started off as a whitewasher and you sold drinks. When did you realize that your future was in acting?
I think it’s funny that everyone points out that I worked as a whitewasher. Actually, as strange as it sounds, it was only natural for me. I was born in a family of factory workers and we all had to work at a certain point in life, plain and simple. But I still dreamt of becoming a musician or an actor. I realized that my future was in acting when I had the proof that I could do it and do it - let’s say - well, I don’t want to exaggerate.
In Domani è un altro giorno, you are co-starring with your dear friend Valerio Mastandrea. When did you first meet?
It’s not like we’re engaged (he laughs). Anyway, we were in a movie theatre watching Messico e nuvole by Angelo Orlando. It was the year 1994, 25 years ago. This film we did together is great, you cry, you laugh, and we had fun working together again, because we know each other so well. I know exactly what he is about to say when I improvise.
What can you tell us about Villetta con ospiti by De Matteo?
I can say that this is another great film. I think that Ivano is one out of the three-four best film directors I’ve ever worked with. I’ve known him for years, but I was surprised by how determined he is on the set, you can see his “biceps swelling”. He would love to hear me say this.
You’ve played diametrically opposed characters throughout your career. What is your favorite?
The positive ones. Although in Ivano’s film I’m very negative, probably the most negative character of my life. But I enjoy testing my ability to play such difficult roles. Roles like those in Tutta colpa di Freud and Perfetti sconosciuti make women fall in love with me, and then they all “stalk” me outside my home (he laughs). You are what you do, it’s obvious.
What kind of film would you like to play in?
I really like swashbuckler films and, in general, period movies. But most of all, I would love to play in a Western, I do have the right face. If you think of it, Westerns were all the rage in the seventies. We taught the Americans to do Westerns: Silverado, and even Unforgiven by Clint Eastwood. Sergio Leone, a Roman from Trastevere, taught the Americans to do Westerns. How incredible is that? Or at least in a certain way, his way.
As an actor, cinema expert and a Roman, what films would you recommend to someone who is not familiar with Rome?
We All Loved Each Other So Much by Ettore Scola and Big Deal on Madonna Street by Mario Monicelli, and also Pasolini’s films or Rossellini’s Rome, Open City. But I guess it depends on what you want to tell about Rome, which is not only Sordi’s Rome or Monicelli’s poor suburbs where the working class used to live, which are today’s downtown neighborhoods. “Rome is not Rome anymore”, people said back in the sixties, let alone nowadays, but this applies to all cities. Sorry, I’m wandering off the point, I do it often.
It’s common knowledge that another passion of yours, in addition to rock music, is motorcycling. Let’s go for a ride, where?
I don’t care where, I just drive fast. I get on my motorbike and speed up. Because I’m the romantic type and because, as Steve McQueen used to say, “they won’t catch me that way”.