Alice, Davide, Carlo, and the future of the love triangle on the background of the astrological alignments: what will the stars and planets narrate and arrange this time? Currently available on Netflix, the second season of “Guida astrologica per cuori infranti” is the very successful second chapter of the Italian series by Bindu De Stoppani, entirely dedicated to the zodiac signs excluded from season one, in a perfect combination of rom-com and astrology. So well-made, which is rare and difficult, as the on-call “messy ex-boyfriend” Alberto Paradossi told us.
In a long, fun, and memorable chat, Alberto focused on all his memories and impressions of the series, from her experience on set, the first one after lockdown, to the evolution of the characters, and his Carlo in particular, pointing out how the judgment of a role is the enemy from which every actor should escape for an authentic and satisfactory performance.
Between speeches on generational differences, the millennials’ anxiety of keeping up with the maturity of Gen Z, the benefits of breathing and head-belly connection, Alberto opened up about his desires, the most relatable and the craziest ones: so, watch out because one day you could find him reading tarot cards with a curious tattoo in sight!
What’s your first cinema memory?
“Indiana Jones”! The third one, “The Last Crusade,” which I don’t think I saw at the cinema because I was too young. When I was between 5 and 6 years old, I binge-watched the whole saga, but randomly because my parents didn’t really watch any TV. So, that time, I found this tape, which was one of those that came free with complimentary weekly magazines, and it’s one of my first memories. As far as cinema per se is concerned, memory takes you back to when you’re a kid, so I remember that the first movies I saw were “Toy Story” and “Jurassic Park.”
You’re one of the protagonists of the Italian Netflix hit series “Guida astrologica per cuori infranti,” now available to stream on the platform. Which particular aspect of the series made you say yes to the project?
Look, astrology makes me curious because I hear so much about it that, if until a while ago I wouldn’t have wondered things about horoscopes, now I can’t help wondering: “What is it that you’re talking about? How does it work? What’s up with that?”. I’ve also had my astral chart done, which is the one that tells you how the planets were aligned when you were born! Then, there’s also the fact that I don’t mind romantic comedies, if made well, they’re fun. Maybe, it’s because I’m a romantic guy… [laughs]
It’s hard to make quality rom-coms, though!
Yes, it’s very hard! However, think about something like “Fleabag” or, still speaking of the romantic genre, “500 Days of Summer,” those are truly amazing because they’ve dodged the stereotypes, with a certain amount of cynicism and drama alongside comedy.
So, my curiosity for the horoscope and passion for romantic comedies made me say yes to the project, together with my character, the ex-boyfriend who’s a bit of a goofball and an asshole because, poor man, he’s a real mess! [laughs] In the first season of the show, we only get to meet one side of him, also because the two seasons are based on one single book, so my character’s evolution stops in the middle of nowhere, and in season one he’s had only a few chances to make himself understood. On the other hand, in season two, he turns out to be a more positive character than we thought.
“In the first season, […] he’s had only a few chances to make himself understood”.
When you got the part of Carlo, the ex-boyfriend of the protagonist, like you said, and her colleague, and you read the scripts for the first time, what was your first thought and the first question you asked the directors and yourself?
When you read the scripts and the book, in this case, you can’t but think negatively of this guy, so the first thing I did was to leave out any kind of judgment, which is something you should do with any role you play because the more neutral and the less judgmental you are, the easier you can get into character. So, the first thing I thought was, “Okay, I can’t play the bad guy” because Carlo is not a bad guy, and this is what the directors and I told each other, after all, my character is the most sweetheart of all [laughs]. He’s an immature man who makes mistakes, so he’s not so different from me and people my age. Well, perhaps I should say I’m careful not to make women pregnant, while he doesn’t! [laughs]
So, what was your approach to the character, and how much of you is there in him?
It was fun, you get to hold more reins when you take the character for what it is, no matter what; you can’t think there are good characters and bad characters. Also, acting makes you discover something about yourself. I tried to give Carlo some of my empathy, also to make the audience feel closer when introduced to him. He certainly is quite an instinctive person, and I can relate to that, even though he’s more selfish than me. And then, I think a bit more than Carlo, I’m a bit more thoughtful! I have an instinct that’s the self-preservation one. However, he also has this kind of generational anxiety that’s typical of today’s 30-somethings, that we all share regardless of our sex.
One more thing Carlo and I have in common is that we both work in creativity, which was helpful because I didn’t find myself having to play a geometer or something, I knew what I was dealing with.
Did you read the book before starting filming? How much did it help/influence you?
Yes, I read it when I knew I had to audition for the role, and it helped me picture the situation. The series is also quite faithful to the book; of course, some things change in the script, but the overall storyline is the same. The book helps you to react to the script in a different way, and also to have a global and comprehensive knowledge of the story. In particular, the fact that I read it when we started shooting season one, alongside the script, is a form of rehearsal, you move your first steps on that when you start filming, the “full score” of your character is in there: the more aware you are of what happens, the better.
Especially because the novel and the script are not so far away from each other, their parallel reading isn’t likely to confuse you, on the contrary, it becomes a stronger basis.
Exactly. The only things that change are maybe some locations, for example, in the book, the protagonist travels to Rome, while in the show she goes to Paris, but besides those kinds of things, the course of events was maintained.
Speaking of which, the trailer of season two gave us some important hints, like Davide&Alice’s trip to Paris you were mentioning. Therefore, what should we expect from this second chapter?
Lots of storylines unrolling in parallel and lots of characters in development, so, more dynamics! Some stories end and others begin… but I don’t want to give you too many spoilers! I’ll tell you that the characters are a bit more independent compared to season one, where everyone moved around the protagonist; they keep doing it in season two, but the difference is that now everyone starts creating their own path, and this will also help Alice to make certain choices.
Your character, Carlo, is one of the tips of a love triangle (with Alice and Davide), a triangle that, by the end of season one, threatens to change its shape with the arrival of a new character who makes Alice lose her head. What can you tell us about the evolution of your character in season two?
He messes up a little bit… He fucks around! [laughs] In the end, though, the stupid shit he does is a precursor to redemption, they’re part of a journey. I like to play characters who make mistakes, it’s the most natural, human, and fun thing to do, also because when you do it in real life you have some responsibilities and consequences, while if you do it for a show, in fiction, you can make mistakes, a lot and well. So, I’m also glad I’ve found this goodwill in the character, who wants to change, but he messes it up because he’s so clumsy, he’s a grabber, he’s a bit of a jackass! [laughs] However, I don’t feel like blaming him…
He does what he does for good!
Yes! Then, by all means, you may say, “speak for yourself” [laughs], but it really is all part of a plan.
“I like to play characters who make mistakes, it’s the most natural, human, and fun thing to do…”
How would you describe “Guida astrologica per cuori infranti 2” in one word?
For many reasons. Pleasant because it was my first job after the pandemic, and because it’s a pleasant show to play in, and because I’ve met pleasant people. Perhaps, it’s too mild as an adjective, but it encapsulates all.
Earlier, you were mentioning that you’ve been interested in astrology for a while now. Do you believe in the horoscope?
Well, no! [laughs] I mean, maybe sometimes the horoscope tells you something that can maybe simplify some steps along your way, but in the end, you’re the only one who has the answers. Of course, it’s interesting, curious, fascinating. However, I don’t believe in it. It’s also true that it tells you things about your nature, like “you have a certain percentage of this,” “when you were born, you got this because of the positions of the stars and sun,” and they can also be an incentive to behave in a certain way, a memo… After all, people believe in so many things, more questionable than the horoscope, so maybe the horoscope is the most harmless of beliefs! [laughs]
So, do I believe in it? For now, I’ll say no, but who knows, maybe in the future… Maybe, in 20 years we’ll meet again in Paris to read tarot cards like Jodorowsky!
What was the most significant cinematographic encounter of your career so far?
The first experiences I’ve had, maybe even small, have all been significant, and with each of them, making mistakes or recognizing things, methods, you get to learn something significant, if you do them with passion, if you work well, if you care about it. I played Craxi’s son in “Hammamet,” for example, the movie by Gianni Amelio, and even just meeting a director like him and working with Pierfrancesco Favino as my first experience, it’s mindblowing. Also, the movie “Permette? Alberto Sordi,” where I played the part of Fellini, with a huge responsibility on my back, so that was a significant experience; with “Guida astrologica,” I’ve learned a way of being, of breathing on set. I hope I never stop learning, but maybe now I’m in a phase where I can’t help but think that “everything is significant,” it’s a non-stop of significant encounters, each with its own power, memories, and value.
Who or what inspires you on the job, but also in your everyday life?
On the job, when you manage to connect in a double-locked way, tune your head and belly. It’s a big deal if you can do it. In my everyday life, it’s the same because it represents the union between the superstructures and primary desires that we have, and it’s hard to combine those, especially in life.
“…when you manage to connect in a double-locked way, tune your head and belly. …”
The first DVD you bought?
The first DVD I got was stolen! [laughs] I stole it from the stationery store behind my middle school, which has failed now. It was not my fault though! I don’t remember if I did it to give the DVD to some girl as a gift, or because I lost a bet… But I swear I’m not a kleptomaniac! The movie was “The Matrix,” and I’m not even that into it! The first DVD I remember buying, instead, is “For Love and Gold” by Monicelli, a great one, starring Vittorio Gassman, I must have been 11 or 12.
I started developing a passion for movies in my first year of high school. My Greek, Latin, and literature teacher was a tough one, he gave you the lowest marks, but it was known that he was a cinephile, so you tried to seduce him by talking about the movies he mentioned, and they were gorgeous movies! So, I basically started off with Brian De Palma, Cimino, Coppola. I even remember the time when we were studying “Heart of Darkness,” and Coppola references that book in “Apocalypse Now,” so I did some huge ass-kissing, and I hadn’t even read “Heart of Darkness,” after 13 pages, I was already sick and tired of it! [laughs] Now I read books, though. But I only started when I was 20, to fight insomnia. I wasn’t a book-lover before, I began to read as a way to calm down and fall asleep, with Ennio Flaiano. The thing is, if you start reading when you’re an adult, then it becomes bulimic, also because I have these moments in which I read no shit and others in which I read three books in one week. I envy those people who read in a systematic way, like my father, he’s one of those who read 20 pages a day, always.
Reading is a good thing, it’s good for your mind.
Absolutely. Back to cinema, instead, who’s a character from a movie or TV show that you would like to have as a friend?
Michael Scott from “The Office,” or Fleabag, even more than Michael Scott; that kind of humor, especially in women, drives me crazy. I don’t have many friends, I only have a few trusted ones, but it’s with my girlfriends that I have the most fun. I went to a convent kindergarten and elementary school, and the fact that they imposed so much rigor, the austerity of the environment, now makes me unconsciously tend to joke about certain kinds of stuff with boys, and others with girls, and this has always pissed me a bit. In fact, when this barrier is broken, it’s incredible to me.
So, I’d love to be friends with Fleabag as my friend, even though in small doses. But I’d love it, especially in 2022!
Who’s a real-life character you’d love to play?
Stefano Rosso, that guy who sings, “Che bello, due amici, una chitarra e uno spinello.” He was a singer and songwriter from the ‘70s, who wrote some very smart and funny songs, I think. Besides the fact that he was born on December 7th like me, and he mentions this in a very nice song, where he talks about his birth and, once out into the world, he thinks, “Oh man, it was better in there!”. I discovered him by chance because in Rome you often hear that song I mentioned before. His life story is crazy, he began with music, then he didn’t want to do it anymore and joined the Foreign Legion, he traveled the world. So, I’d love to play him, and Piero Ciampi.
An epic fail on set?
I’ve made an ass of myself once… You need to be very careful with mics, and make sure if they’re on or off. I said something, made some comments, with some colorful language, and the person who should have not heard me probably did hear me. I’m not 100% sure, though, because I was so ashamed that I didn’t further investigate, I didn’t ask, I only said, “Fuck, the mic is on.” I swear to you, I played along.
Your must-have on set?
My head! [laughs]
What does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
To breath. Because you said “skin.” Someone way smarter and wiser than me, once said that our skin is the border between ourselves and the infinite. I’d love to tell you that the quote is mine… [laugh], but it’s by David Le Breton. So, to breathe, reach an ideal temperature inside, a relaxation status, a lightness in the sense of the equal distribution of weights. In my opinion, breathing helps find the balance between what we have inside and all that’s outside. Sometimes, I realize that I’m not breathing, and that’s wrong because it prevents you from thinking, and if you don’t think, you can’t form clear images in your head, you can’t walk well, and so on and so forth. The same goes for acting, breathing helps you balance everything and take risks, moving and daring with some choices, answers, silences.
“Skin is the border between ourselves and the infinite.”
What’s the bravest thing you’ve done instead?
The next thing I’ll do [laughs].
What are you afraid of?
The void, I’m afraid of heights! And I’m scared of expired dairy; remember: expired meat is always better than expired dairy. And I’m afraid of snakes.
What’s the latest thing/person that made you smile?
Yesterday, I was in the train on my way here, and next to me there was a group of four teenage girls speaking in some sort of astonished, uncertain tones, about two friends of theirs who’d come out as non-binary and, therefore, they’d chosen nicknames to be called with. This, actually, didn’t really make me laugh, but it rather surprised me, their reactions in particular because, you know, for our generation, it’s something I don’t want to say “new,” but of recent discussion, so we’re still getting used to it. On the other hand, to see them, their reactions, some disordered, others on point because some said, “We should do it,” but a girl also said, “Go to registry office!”. They looked like different people, each in the representation of one side of society, and they were all so young but said such mature things.
Today’s kids deal with things that would have been so out of our reach at their age, so this is what made me smile, with pleasure, too. I mean, for example, today’s kids watch “Euphoria”… I watch it now that I’m 30 and I head to dose season one and spread it over one week because at some point I thought, “no, that’s too much,” and it’s not because I’m bigoted!
It’s one thing if you start thinking in a certain way when you’re 10 or 12, but it’s different if you start at 30, in fact, today’s teens are advantaged because they instantly see that the world is varied. It’s okay that they feel confused because if you find yourself dealing with all this from the moment you were born, you’ll certainly be more mature than me, but they also hold a hot potato. I envy them, but at the same time, I don’t. One thing is for sure, we’ve got to keep up, and the fact that you feel surprised is probably the pill not to step outside your times. Otherwise, the next step is visiting construction sites with a flat cap on, and then going to bowls club! [laughs] As far as I’m concerned, when I’m 70, I want to get a tattoo, one that I saw in a brilliant docu-film called “American Animals,” and it’s driven me nuts, the tattoo of a T-Rex that cannot switch off a fan. This is life, I believe: a T-Rex, that can do everything, that’s the king of the world, but cannot switch off a fan. So, when I’m 70, I’m doing that tattoo.
Your happy island?
A house at the beach, in winter.