Culture shapes us and changes us, opening us to the world according to a horizon in which everyone can find their own view, never unique but multiple. Vinicio Marchioni knows this well, as one of the best and most qualified actors we have in Italy who, thanks to culture – which goes hand in hand with curiosity and the desire to learn regardless of everything – has become what he wanted to be without ever stopping, trying his best, changing where possible or accentuating flaws which then, in reality, have become attributes, demonstrating how that same culture saves us in a becoming that is continuous.
«Despite everything, I had a normal adolescence and I learned so much on the streets»
«I grew up in Fidene, a village in the northeast of the capital», he tells us when we meet him, «and living in that context was like living in a black and white film of the 1970s. It was the 1980s and early 1990s, another world in which everything was happening. There it was like being in a town where we all, or almost all, knew each other. The neighbour’s children were dealing drugs, but the neighbour herself would make us snacks. Despite everything, I had a normal adolescence and I learned so much on the streets». He adds, «Sport saved me. I played football, practising three times a week. Staying on topic, music also played its part – I listened to Italian songwriters such as Dalla, Venditti and De Gregori, the lesser known and the internationals – but above all books and reading were my salvation.
I would read everything, and in my hometown and where I went to school, I was considered a kind of alien. At 14 I had already read Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Orwell’s 1984. I get a certain amount of curiosity from there too, but I was unaware of what I was doing. After all, that was my adolescence, the worst period of life, the one in which you know nothing, but you have the presumption of knowing everything. Life passes before you, but you don’t understand anything».
«I love great stories that always make me feel big emotions, even if I’m not aware of what I’m reading»
That love for reading and culture in general is still with him today and has never faded. «I love great stories that always make me feel big emotions, even if I’m not aware of what I’m reading; it’s a way to discover, know and get away, even if only from the mind, from the place where I am and visit different, much bigger realities and with heartbreaking loves or stories». He has left his hometown without ever forgetting it («I’ve never tolerated those who forget their origins»), and has travelled a great deal since then.
«Writing relaxes me, distracts me, it always excites me»
First there was the graduation from the local Pacinotti Technical Secondary School: «There were at least four subjects I had to repeat every year, but I never failed a class», he remembers. «Maths, in particular, was not for me. Maths – as Venditti sings – will never be my job. I preferred to keep journals, which were and are my outlet and refuge for my imagination». And then another diploma, this time from the Libera Accademia dello Spettacolo, the unforgettable experiences with Luca Ronconi, the Humanities studies at university abandoned in order to crown his true passion: acting.
«I sent some material to the Experimental Centre, but they didn’t accept me, so in the meantime I chose La Sapienza. I was writing like crazy, and I still do it now between sets», he continues. «Writing relaxes me, distracts me, it always excites me. So I attended the Libera Accademia dello Spettacolo in Monti, of which I will never forget the lessons held in a basement, in the basement space that reeked of mould. It was like being in a cave, but at the time we didn’t notice, because that, together with the smell of the stage, was a smell full of humanity». He continues, «Those smells were all it was about, they made me feel at home in that place. I stayed there for three unforgettable years, followed by a year specialising in Ancient Dramaturgy and the Choral Use of Masks».
«I was really lucky to have become successful at an older age, as this allowed me to be more aware of what I didn’t want to do as an actor»
From theatre he passed on to TV. His first roles in television date back to 2006 in the series R.I.S. 2 and shortly afterwards came his great opportunity with Romanzo Criminale – The Series in which he played Freddo, a character who has remained dear to many. «I was really lucky to have become successful at an older age, as this allowed me to be more aware of what I didn’t want to do as an actor. After Romanzo Criminale everything seemed smaller to me, I said no to many things, but then the right parts came». We remember him in the role of Aureliano Amadei, the only civilian survivor of the Nassiriya massacre in 2003 in the film 20 Cigarettes, by Amadei himself. The scene of the attack is thrilling, and Vinicio gives his best.
Many will also remember him in Francesco Bruno’s Easy! (Scialla) where he plays “The Poet”, the boss of the Roman underworld in love with Pasolini and Truffaut, a kind of parody of his Freddo, an experience to which is added that with Woody Allen in To Rome with Love and many others. Valeria Golino wanted him in Honey (Miele), Sergio Castellitto in Twice Born (Venuto al mondo), Marco Ponti in A Liberal Passion (Passione Sinistra), Paul Haggis in Third Person, Riccardo Milani in Don’t Stop Me Now (Ma cosa ti dice il cervello?), Fabio Mollo in South is Nothing (Il sud è niente), Ivano De Matteo in Mia, Alessio de Leonardis and Fabrizio Moro in Ghiaccio (the character Massimo that he plays is nothing short of extraordinary) and Milena Mancini, also an actress, all for herself.
«Čhechov is one of those authors who, by reading them, make you a better human being: they teach you mercy, non-judgment, compassion beyond Christian-Catholic one, putting the human at the centre of everything»
The two married in 2011 and have two children, Marco and Marcello: «My life, as I am for her». They have been working together for years, especially in the theatre. We have seen his portrayal in Čhechov’s Uncle Vanya several times, where they act together. He notes, «Čhechov is the greatest contemporary theatrical genius, even if he is not contemporary. Like Shakespeare, he had the same disruptive effect on the history of theatre and what humans did after him.
The man didn’t know much about himself before he wrote it. I think he is one of those authors who, by reading them, make you a better human being: they teach you mercy, non-judgment, compassion beyond Christian-Catholic one, putting the human at the centre of everything». Together they have held a high-level training course for actresses and actors at Teatro della Pergola in Florence, and they will perform Camus’s Caligula there next season. «Caligula also recalls Hamlet, a philosopher’s stone, because he has everything and its opposite inside, he produces fascination and horror at the same time, he points you towards what concerns you but at the same time you don’t want to see or hear. They are two characters surrounded by loneliness from the beginning, and there they will end up, in a cosmic void that surrounds them».
«In the end, you realise that everything is useful, even the films that didn’t go well and that you thought had the script of a lifetime and that you did everything you could to interpret. Even that teaches you»
From the theatre, back to cinema and then on to TV with his friend Paolo Genovese: a real comeback since the two had already worked together in Blame Freud (Tutta colpa di Freud), The Place and Supererori. This time he was called for The Lions of Sicily, the new Italian Disney+ original series based on the books by Stefania Auci which premiered at the 18th Rome Film Festival. «I play Paolo Florio, the founder who makes the decision to leave Calabria and move his whole family to Palermo, a really interesting character. It was an incredible experience with a crazy cast. I like costume films, that era was beautiful and full of charm. The series is an epic full of love, family, successes, wars and revolutions, set in 19th-century Sicily until the Unification of Italy in 1861».
«After all, ours is the trade of paradoxes, and there are many others like this. You understand that there is no real structure, that this art is as dispersive as the imagination: isn’t it wonderful?»
Last but certainly not least, the new film by Paolo Virzì (who already wanted him in Dry (Siccità): Un altro Ferragosto out next year, almost 30 years after the lucky and iconic August Vacation (Ferie d’Agosto). Then the first film by director Paola Cortellesi, also presented at the Rome Film Festival. «I had a small role, but the film is great from several points of view, one of those that will amaze many people and that will remain indelible».
In all of this, is there room for any repentance? «Of jobs as of choices, no», he replies. «In the end, you realise that everything serves a purpose, even the films that didn’t go well, where I thought I had the script of a lifetime and I did everything to be able to act in. Those teach you, too. After all, ours is the trade of paradoxes, and there are many others like this. You understand that there is no real structure, that this art is as dispersive as the imagination: isn’t it wonderful?»
Photographer Davide Musto
Styling Romina Piperno
Hair Clelia, Marcella – Contestarockhair
Make-up Sofia Righi
Photographer assistant Valentina Ciampaglia
Styling assistant Benedetta De Martino
Location Teatro della Pergola
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