When acting is love at first sight: Flavio Furno

A Neapolitan DOC, Flavio Furno fell in love with acting out of the blue, feeling for the set. His interest is not a passing interest; after several years the acting profession is still the driving force of his life experience, a visceral passion he cannot do without. On the set Flavio feels fully valued and every character somehow makes him fall in love. And this, perhaps, is the secret of his success as an actor.

Furno is now back on the small screen, starring in the mini-series Marconi, a two-part Rai product that is not to be missed. The narrative, dedicated to a 20th-century genius without whom the world would be very different today, features the Neapolitan actor in the role of the antagonist: Minister Giuseppe Bottai. Between history and action, the series aims to give a well-rounded picture of a particular historical period, that of the fascist regime, which Guglielmo Marconi experienced firsthand. We are told about it by Flavio Furno himself, who admired the great inventor’s talent and, above all, his stubbornness.

Total look Boglioli
Total look Boglioli

Flavio Furno and his passion for the set: «Acting has become a life mission, I would like to devote myself to it every day»

Where did your passion for acting come from?

My approach to this world was quite accidental. Around the age of 16 I had stopped playing basketball because I was really poor (laughs, ed.); I was very uninterested, so my father had the intuition to enroll me in a theater class. The initial approach was wonderful, although I was very shy, and I immediately realized that I had found an environment where I felt completely valued.

The encounter with acting was a real eye-opener for me. This passion of mine has grown over time, allowing me to feel better than I feel in my everyday life. From the very first theater classes, I had the perception that teachers and other students had immediately caught a spark in me; something that I did not know I had and did not recognize myself in the slightest.

To this day acting has become a life mission; I would like to devote myself to it every day. Years after I started acting, this passion still represents the beating heart of my life.

How do you habitually prepare for a role? Do you have a routine?

My method of approaching a role comes mainly from the years I attended the academy. I confess that I am very lazy, so I have not developed a real technique to best empathize with a character.

In general, my work starts with an important process of imagination; it is as if a little screenwriter, a little director, lives inside me, who is already thinking about the unfolding of the film from the moment of the audition. I don’t have a great methodology, of course it all varies a lot depending on the type of character and the scenario in which it fits. Apart from text work and research, I consider myself an instinctive actor in the way I approach stories. I recognize this quality in myself: when reading a script, I often understand on the fly the function of my character in relation to the narrative.

Flavio Furno
Total look Paul Smith

«I would love to have the opportunity in the future to work with Paolo Virzì again»

Your official film debut was in 2016 with Assolo, a film by Laura Morante. What was that experience?

Working with Laura Morante was a pivotal experience in my career. She was not only directing the film but was also present in some scenes with me, and this made me hyper agitated at first. The first scene went very well, because I had the audacity to put in something of my own, to add lines, and Laura was very happy about that. Then, caught up in the excitement, during the second scene I tried in every way to reinvent it in my own way (just as had happened in the first one precisely). There my being gassed gradually went down, every idea I proposed was punctually rejected by the director (laughs, ed.). This is the memory that has stuck with me the most from that experience.

Assolo represented my official debut in cinema, in 2016, however I had already been involved in another project made earlier. It was a film signed Paolo Virzì, a lifelong myth of mine, entitled Tutta la vita davanti. I can barely be seen there, so let’s say it was a debut yes, but only unofficial (laughs, ed.). I would love to have the opportunity in the future to work with Virzì again, to whom I would certainly tell about my very first role as an extra in one of his films.

Flavio Furno
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«I really enjoyed playing the role of the antagonist, in his shoes it is possible to live experiences and feelings that in real life are hardly (fortunately) realized»

And now we would like to know more about your latest project: the Rai Marconi mini-series. You fall into the role of Giuseppe Bottai. What kind of character is he? How does he relate to the main character (played by Stefano Accorsi)?

Mine is a real-life character, he was Minister of National Education during the Fascist regime, a kind of synthesis of Minister of Culture and Minister of Education. He was an extremely learned man and a great right-hand man of Mussolini, at least in the beginning. He was guilty of a very serious mistake: signing the racial laws for schools, thus excluding Jewish children. In the last years of his life he regretted this decision, so much so that he enlisted in the Foreign Legion as a way to atone for his sin. Even, no longer feeling represented by what fascism had become over time, Giuseppe Bottai allegedly ranks himself among those who betrayed Mussolini.

In our story, my character’s role exactly mirrors the position occupied by the minister within the regime and can be identified as the real antagonist of the narrative. Bottai does everything in his power to discredit in Mussolini’s eyes the figure of Marconi; indeed, there seems to have been a kind of jealousy and rivalry between the two, both of whom were intelligent and extremely powerful men.

With an almost spy story approach, which makes the story even more interesting, the series highlights the rumor that Marconi had promised the Duce a weapon of destruction, crucial for a possible war and to confirm Italy‘s position internationally. Bottai discovers that the inventor is not actually designing any weapon and that it was all a hoax. From there he will try in every way to make the facts known to Mussolini.

I had a lot of fun playing the role of the antagonist; in his shoes it is possible to have experiences and feelings that in real life are hardly (fortunately) realized. In a way, stepping into the part was also very liberating. I thank Lucio Pellegrini, the director, for giving me this opportunity.

Total look Boglioli, shoes Loro Piana
Total look Boglioli, shoes Loro Piana

«As a Neapolitan DOC, I never abandon the so-called “cazzimma,” however, I always tend to be good and see the good in others»

Do you think you share some aspects, character or otherwise, with your character?

No, I am definitely less devilish (laughs, ed.). I am a very good person; as a Neapolitan DOC I never abandon the so-called “cazzimma,” however, basically I always tend to see the good in others, to trust and turn the other cheek.

Then I also think I have a very healthy ambition, I’m not an ambitious person who rushes around or wants to make others look bad. Maybe this also happens a bit out of presumption, in the sense that I look my way, not other people’s, convinced that I can achieve the goal. And going back to the comparison between me and Bottai, I don’t even find similarities in appearance: he wears his hair back, something I detest (laughs, ed.).

Total look Loro Piana
Total look Loro Piana

Flavio Furno talks about Marconi Rai series: «From my point of view, this series is important precisely because of the story it tells, which deserves to be known»

What was it like working with the cast, primarily the lead actor Stefano Accorsi?

It was not the first time I was working with Stefano, we had already crossed paths on the set of the 1992 series, although we did not share scenes together there. He is a really funny person, he has a great irony even, how should I say, a bit adolescent. During the filming of Marconi, we had a lot of fun. One night, even, we had a hard time going on with the scenes because we couldn’t stop laughing. We didn’t work so many days side by side, but he was undoubtedly a positive surprise. In my opinion we work very well together.

What messages are conveyed through this mini-series? Does the narrative lead to a moral?

I don’t know if one can speak of an actual moral. From my point of view, this series is important precisely because of the story it tells, which deserves to be known.

New generations know very little about Guglielmo Marconi, despite the fact that he was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. Everything to do with radio, wireless, telephones and communication in general would not have existed without him. The world today would not be the same without Marconi.

Beyond the genius of the inventor, I was particularly struck by his great persistence. Talent is not enough, in any field it is solely a sine qua non, which is not enough. You also need a little healthy stubbornness. In his early twenties and with no scientific background behind him, Marconi was incapable of proving the possibility of transmitting radio waves without any wires. Then when this insight of his began to become real, the British government offered the inventor an exorbitant sum. The sum, while very tempting, will be refused by the young Marconi, well aware of how his project would see its value grow exponentially in the years to come.

Believe in your ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem and even if the whole world tells you you are wrong. This is the biggest lesson I take away from this Rai mini-series.

Flavio Furno
Total look Corneliani, shoes Paraboot

«I love the camouflage, although, in fact, in every character the actor inevitably leaves his or her own personal mark»

Considering the career you have pursued so far, in which character you have played did you feel most comfortable? Why?

I have a hard time answering that, because I fall in love with all the characters I play, even the ones that don’t particularly appeal to me at first. I always find a key, a way to become attached to the roles I have to cast myself in. In the guise of a character, I always want to see as little of myself as possible, and that is precisely why I really like the parts that are far from me. I love camouflage, although, in fact, in every character the actor inevitably leaves his or her own mark.

Often then you also get attached to a role because of the context, because of the colleagues you worked with, because of the time you shot the scenes. For example, I remember with great pleasure a film in which I took part, Mocro maffia, shot in Holland. There I acted in English and played a drug-addicted mobster. I had a great time there.

Flavio Furno
Total look Paul Smith, shoes Dr.Martens

Flavio Furno: «For the first time I will be the male lead, and I am very happy about this opportunity»

Looking at your future projects, we will see you alongside Teresa Saponangelo and Claudia Gerini in the crime series Sara, available on Netflix from autumn this year. Could you give us some sneak peeks?

I can anticipate two things. For the first time I will be the male lead and I am very happy about this opportunity. The story told in the series is based on the novels of Maurizio De Giovanni, a beloved writer, so the bar of expectation is raised. Then finally, after many years on the set, I returned to film in Naples. And for the first time I will be acting in Neapolitan. Many people don’t know that I am originally from there, and at the dawn of 38, I would like this to be recognized (laughs, ed.).

Maurizio De Giovanni is a very charismatic person, playing the role of the male protagonist (who by the way is the most beloved of the novels) places a great responsibility on my shoulders. Under the guidance of director Carmine Elia I had a great time, he gave me a great opportunity. And the rest you will see with your own eyes on Netflix, I cannot anticipate anything else (also because I have not seen the series yet – laughs, ed.).

Total look Loro Piana
Total look Loro Piana


Photographer: Davide Musto

Stylist: Andreas Mercante

Make-up and hair: Emanuela Di Giammarco

Post production and photographer assistant: Valentina Ciampaglia

Stylist assistant: Liliana Cataldi

Location: Planet Film

Press office: Andreas Mercante PR Talent Agency


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