A young Italian talent, the pride and emblem of his generation, Giulio Pranno gives value to time as a precious element in life, and never fails to accept whatever acting challenge he meets on his way. A versatile actor, an “artistic soul,” Giulio is willing to give all of himself to be true, both on set and in his private life.
On the occasion of the release of two new projects of his, the movies “Comedians,” by Gabriele Salvatores, and “Security,” by Peter Chelsom, we met him to find out more.
What’s your first cinema memory?
My first cinema memory is Sergio Leone’s western movies. I used to watch them on repeat with my dad when I was a kid… In fact, as of today, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” is my favorite movie ever.
After “Volare” (in Italian, “Tutto il mio folle amore”), you and director Gabriele Salvatore have rejoined forces in “Comedians:” how has your relationship changed between these two projects, and how have you worked together to give life to your character, Giulio Zappa?
Our relationship has been wonderful since day one… I love Gabriele, both as a director and as a man. We get on really well both in the workplace and outside, but the more time we spend together, the stronger our reciprocal admiration and friendship become. We discussed a lot about the character before starting filming, and then we worked on it in detail during the two-week rehearsals.
The movie has an ensemble cast with names like Natalino Balasso, Ale and Franz, and Christian De Sica: what was it like to share the set with them?
It was an amazing set, with an amazing cast, and BRILLIANT actors that have now become friends, other than colleagues. Because of Covid, we couldn’t but spend our free time together, always, and that really helped us become a very tight group.
“Comedians” revolves around six aspiring comedians, one of whom is your character, striving to make their way in the entertainment world and, in doing so, their dark, sometimes tragic side emerges: what was it like to step into Giulio Zappa’s shoes?
To step into his shoes has been the most difficult acting challenge I’ve ever faced. Despite our many similarities, it was a very challenging character, and I really hope I’ve done a good job… because Zappa really deserved it!
Did you take inspiration in any way from the original theater play by Trevor Griffith?
I haven’t read Griffith’s play… And I haven’t even seen the film with Jonathan Pryce that was adapted from it. I watched a few clips on YouTube only after we finished shooting our movie… I was afraid that otherwise I could have been too influenced by Pryce’s acting!
“To step into his shoes has been the most difficult acting challenge I’ve ever faced.”
At some point, speaking of the meaning of comedy, your character says that he wants to hold on to reality: how important is this in your job and in this role, in particular?
Every actor should draw inspiration from the reality surrounding them… We have the extremely difficult task of staging the humanity of the characters we play. If we didn’t take inspiration from everyday life, we wouldn’t be able to do a good job! However, as far as this role is concerned, it was all about staging a really out-of-the-ordinary character, a sort of elf – a Shakespearean Puck, as someone appropriately described him – bearer of a powerful moral message, so it was a character that could afford to be above reality. I think this is the right reading key to fully understand the interpretative line Gabriele and I chose to follow.
The group of comedians is eventually divided between those who decide to keep their integrity, those who decide to change their sketch to get noticed, and those who bet everything on originality: what does it mean to be original, in your opinion?
In my opinion, to be original simply means to be true to yourself as much as you can, whatever this may involve. Let’s just think of the famous and super cliché saying about us, people of the world, being all different from each other: if that’s true, what could be more original than our own true nature?
What makes you laugh instead?
My friends make me laugh! I’ve deliberately chosen the funniest people. We have our own, unique humor, and it’s usually with them that I have the sincerest laughs.
“What could be more original than our own true nature?”
You also play one of the main characters in “Security,” directed by Peter Chelsom: your character, Dario, is one of the key figures to reconstruct the tragic events featured in this story. What was it like to play a role characterized by lights and shadows, between “corruption” and desire to do the right thing?
Dario was a character on which I didn’t work for too long because of a tight schedule: I heard about the character about three weeks before filming. It’s a small part, but vital for the film. It’s also the less extreme role I’ve played, so far. After all, I only had to wear the shoes of someone my own age, a shameless and troubled boy who doesn’t really think about the consequences of his actions. A bit like all teenagers. But he’s not a bad person, and once up against a wall, he can’t but admit he’s really messed it up.
Between the limitations imposed by our society, the power of technology, and the appeal of power and ambition, the movie addresses our everyday life and society: in such terms, what scares you about the present or the future? Have your fears been useful in any way on set?
What scares me about the present is the risk of wasting time in my life. I think I was born with an artistic soul, and I feel terrible when I don’t use my time to create something that could have an artistic value for me and the audience. While the future is something I try and think about as little as I can. I’ll wait and see what life has in store for me. Unfortunately, my fears get the upper hand on set, but I’m slowly learning to “leave them outside and take them back with me only when I’m done with my job.”
“I think I was born with an artistic soul, and I feel terrible when I don’t use my time to create something that could have an artistic value for me and the audience.”
The film also talks about how far we can push ourselves in the name of security: what makes you feel safe?
Work-wise, a good director!
If you could choose your next role, a real-life character, maybe, who would you choose to play and why?
A very close friend of mine is a singer, and he’s very famous… Sometimes I think that if anyone will ever make a movie about his life someday, even though physically we’re completely different, I would have the time of my life playing him.
What’s the first DVD you bought?
I don’t think I’ve ever bought one myself. However, I’ve often received DVDs as a gift. Back when I was a kid, I got the one that I’ve probably seen and, therefore, appreciated the most: “West and Soda” by Bruno Bozzetto.
Someone from the movies you would want to be friends with?
Quentin Tarantino, no doubt. Our cinematographic taste is very similar, and he’s my favorite living director!
Your dream collab?
Tarantino, again, or Paul Thomas Anderson… but also Clint Eastwood (when I was younger, he was my absolute hero).
What stories do you dream to tell?
Beautiful stories, stories that don’t leave the audience indifferent!
Your latest binge-watch?
I won’t tell you my latest one, but the latest things I’ve watched that have satisfied me the most: “The Office” and “The Sopranos.”
Your must-have on set?
I would happily answer you if only I knew what a must-have is! If you’re talking about a particularly cool outfit among my costumes, I’d say Zappa’s trousers, for sure (I asked if they could give them to me as a gift).
An epic fail on set?
I can’t remember any epic fail at the moment, but I’d love to resume a moment we filmed when Gabriele and the cast arranged to sing “Happy Birthday” to me (on my birthday) during a scene of the film… After the clapper board went, I started acting my lines and then I saw them all moving closer to me, and they started singing: it was very nice… It would be worth it to re-watch my face at that moment because I was so caught up in the scene that it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening.