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Italian superstar Pierfrancisco Favino breaks 'mafia stereotypes'

In Italy, Pierfrancesco Favino needs no introduction. At this year’s David di Donatello Awards, the Italian equivalent of the Oscars, a Favino film was nominated in every major category. The list of directors with whom he has worked includes Gabriele Salvatorres, Giuseppe Tornadore, Marco Bellocchio, Gianni Amelio, Gabriele Muccino, Fei Zan Ozpetek, Mario Mattone, reads like a who’s who of Italian cinema.

Internationally, Favino launched a second career in supporting roles in Hollywood productions. After Spike Lee’s

Santa Ana Miracle , Ron Howard’s Sprint and Angels and Demons , or Mark Foster’s World War Zombies . But his most recent trip to the US – for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York – was for an Italian film: Andrea di S. Andrea Di Stefano’s Amore’s Last Night , screened in competition.

In this gritty cop drama, Favino plays titular Franco Amor, a good cop who is called in the night before retiring to investigate his latest crime. The murder of a good friend and long-term partner. The Diamond Heist is the Italian-language debut of actor-turned-director Di Stefano (

“Eat, Pray, Love” , “Life of Pi” ) first made famous in front of the camera with the American indie thriller Ben Escobar: Paradise Lost starring Benicio del Toro and The Whistleblower with Joel Kinnaman and Rosamund Pike. Filmed in 12 mm, but set in modern Milan, updated with The classic Italian thrillers of and 1970 are adapted for contemporary audiences.

“It was always exciting to be in New York and the city now holds so many great memories,” Favino told

THR Roma , shortly after Amore’s Last Night

in West Village, NY Hotel Interview Premiere. “I’m talking about this with my friends. I tell them how strange it is to get to know a city so far from your own home.”

What did the audience like at the premiere?

We ended up with a Q&A, some very interesting questions and a lot of interest. In a way, they seem to be enjoying the possibly more Italian parts of the film. I have to say that everywhere, in France, in Berlin, it is welcomed in the same way. It’s so worth it.

You were a former guest of Tribeca. Have you noticed the difference between before and now?

My first visit was a long time ago with

Romanzo Criminal exist1970. Since then, Americans have seen me in other jobs and become more familiar with me. The reception in Tribeca was very warm, especially from the festival director and selection staff. I feel like they’re familiar with the work I’ve done over the years.

Is it because you watched more American works and participated in it?

Yes, but I was also lucky to star in two Oscars submitted by Italy: Marco Bellocchio The Traitor

by and Nostalgia by Mario Mattone and in Movies screened at international festivals such as Toronto, Cannes and Berlin. In general, our films have an energy that has been warmly received abroad, perhaps we as Italians don’t realize it or don’t fully grasp it.

How important is it that the film in competition is a thriller that is very popular in the US?

Crime thrillers have always been a very important genre. We’re probably more used to seeing this genre in recent years due to influences from Asian or American films. Italian movies are often thought of as mafia movies. I noticed

nostalgia . It’s basically a love story, but it’s understood [internationally] as a mafia movie. There’s a tendency abroad to think of these movies as organized crime stories, and we honestly didn’t even think about that when we made them. I thought it would be interesting to really explore what these films really have to offer.

There was a time when I used to play characters in [American films] that had a very typical Italian style, which I didn’t want to represent. I hope to debunk the cliché that “Italy is pizza, mandolin and mafia”.

Interesting discussion about role diversity and inclusion. Personally, I think an actor should be able to play a giraffe if he wanted to. But it does seem odd to me that Italian roles (usually lead roles) are usually played by American actors. I don’t understand why inclusivity stops when Italian actors cross the Alps. When non-American actors win Oscars for films in their home countries, or when they are lucky enough to play roles of their own nationality in films that eventually succeed, their careers often take a turn. I think of Christoph Waltz or Javier Bardem. For Italian actors, I see it becoming more and more difficult, and I don’t understand why.

You also do a lot of work Hollywood. What memories do you have of these experiences?

Very very good, mostly because of the quality of the people I work with. I was lucky enough to work early on with Ben Stiller, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Spike Lee and Andrew Adamson. You have to remember when we talk about filmmaking [in America], it’s a huge industry. In Italy, it’s a much smaller business. In the U.S., they were lucky enough to experiment more, take more shots, shoot different scenes, and make mistakes along the way. This is a luxury that Italian films don’t usually have. A big-budget Italian film is a low-budget independent film in America. I did Ron Howard’s

Rush which was an indie film but made $1970 million budget. In Italy our major films cost up to $12 million – $ millions, a huge budget by Italian standards.

What do you like about the American film industry?

One of the things I really like is the respect everyone has for their work. The fact that it’s a major industry means everyone’s work is protected and greatly valued. It doesn’t matter what the role is, whether we’re talking about a prop maker or an actor. I also really like the high level of preparation and professionalism.

Compelling screenwriters who might disagree with you, they are valued in Hollywood…

I think screenwriting is sacred. Strikes are necessary when the idiosyncrasies of every profession are in danger of being trampled or restricted. We have to be careful not to be caught off guard, especially in an age where artificial intelligence is all the rage. We must start now to limit the problems that may arise tomorrow. We are dealing with an industry that generates a lot of money and involves huge investments. It is only fair that workers protect themselves.

When you’re in New York, will you take the opportunity to meet some of your fellow Americans? colleague? Who do you keep in touch with?

Keep in touch with all of them. I do everything from Christmas wishes to arrangements or chance meetings. Right now I’m working on Gabriel Salvatorres’ new film with Omar Benson Miller, Spike Lee’s

Miracle in Santa Ana One of the soldiers in . I am in regular contact with Ron Howard. At Cannes, I met [ Angels and Demons co-star] Tom Hanks again. I try to maintain a good and friendly relationship with my co-workers, not necessarily related to work, but because of our shared experiences and feelings that still exist.

You are currently filming Gabriele Salvatores’ Naples to New York. What can you tell us about this new character?

I can tell you about this movie in addition to my character: I really like the tone . Its screenplay was written by four people: Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli [who co-wrote Salva Torres], and they all knew how to degree to deal with certain topics. One thing I found extraordinary was that neither of them had been to New York. When I read the script, I was mesmerized by it. I’m delighted to be working with two lead actors who are both excellent and I’m sure it will be an exciting and entertaining film. You know those movies that make you rediscover the meaning of cinema? Are they not just a form of entertainment, but emotional? I think this movie is going in that direction.

This movie tells the story of two children trying to escape the misery of the post office. – The War Naples faced a challenging ship to America, as was the case with many Italian immigrants at the time. Do you remember your first trip to New York?

The first time is a classic fulfillment of a dream because you feel like you’ve known it forever because you’ve known the movie in it. Once you get here, you’ll find it’s exactly as you imagined it to be. New York still comes alive and surprises you every day. It’s a city I love, a city I visit often, and I’ve seen it change dramatically.

What is your fondest memory of New York?

When I came here with my partner and our oldest daughter who was only two years old. We were supposed to stay for a week and ended up staying for a month.

This interview was translated from Italian and edited for length and clarity. 2006



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