Giancarlo Giannini, the internationally renowned Italian character actor, was born on August 1, 1942 in La Spezia on the Ligurian coast and grew up in Naples. His long film career now comprises around 140 roles. Giannini trained as an actor at the Accademia nazionale d’arte drammatica Silvio d‘Amicoin Rome, where he enrolled in 1961. He initially worked in the theater, performing, for example, the role of Puck in Beppe Menegatti’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In the 1970s, his performances in a series of four films helped garner attention and recognition for their Italian director Lina Wertmüller. The four films, THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI (1972), LOVE AND ANARCHY (1973), SWEPT AWAY BY AN UNUSUAL DESTINY IN THE BLUE SEA OF AUGUST (1974) and SEVEN BEAUTIES (1975) also brought Giannini international renown. In 1973 he was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his role in LOVE AND ANARCHY, and in 1975 he actually received an Oscar nomination for SEVEN BEAUTIES. His role in Luchino Visconti’s final film, THE INNOCENT (1976), definitively established Giannini as one of the stars of European cinema. In 1980, he was cast to play Robert Mendelsohn opposite Hanna Schygulla as the singer Willie in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s LILI MARLEEN. In the film, Robert, a Swiss musician, works for his father’s aid organization, rescuing German Jews in danger of being sent to concentration camps. Robert and Willie fall in love but are destined not to be together.
In the 2000s, Giancarlo Giannini became know to an even wider international public due to his work on major Hollywood films such as HANNIBAL (2001) and MAN ON FIRE (2004). He also appeared as René Mathis alongside Daniel Craig in the two James Bond films CASINO ROYALE (2006)and QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008).
Gianinni has been awarded the Silver Ribbon(Nastro d’Argento) four times by the Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici (SNGCI), the association of Italian film journalists. In addition, in 1972, 1984 and 2004 he was honored by the Accademia del Cinema Italiano with the Premi David di Donatello, one of Europe’s most prestigious film awards.
Photo left: © Brad&k Productions S.r.l.
Photo right: © 1980 United Artists Classics / DR