Sea, sunsets, wind.
Venice, stolen pictures on the seaside, and a love for cinema.
Especially when cinema becomes one with life.
This is it for Jacopo Olmo Antinori who, during the Venice Film Festival, received the Kinéo Award; we walked with him between the land and sea to talk about love for acting, experiences on the set, and the most precious treasure: friendship. After the recent experiences on the set of “Weekend” and the second season of “Devils”, Jacopo understood that the fear of change, of challenges, or of small, big acts of rebellion, exists, and that accepting it, even though terrifying, is the key to act (and live) in the best way.
What is your first cinema memory?
I was three years old when Peter Jackson’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” was released. At the time, my mother used to read “The Hobbit” to me before putting me to bed. She thought it would be a nice idea to take me to see the movie. Too bad, however, that after not even twenty minutes from the beginning of the film, the Nazgul arrive to hunt Frodo to recover the ring. I ran away from the hall in tears, terrified of those black knights. Today, however, “The Fellowship of the Ring” is one of my favorite movies ever.
Your film debut was in 2012 with the movie “Io e te” (“me and you), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, in which you play the protagonist Lorenzo. Do you have a particular memory of that first experience? What “lessons” did you learn on that set?
I was fourteen years old, it was my first real experience on a set, the protagonist of a film by one of the most important directors in the history of cinema, who had not made a film for ten years. It was inevitable that it would become one, if not, THE foundational experience of my life. Bernardo didn’t give me lessons, but he and his crew taught me with practice what it means to love cinema. I remember one evening — we were shooting a night scene in an apartment — Bernardo asked me if I had seen any of Antonioni’s films. I had no idea who he was talking about. He then began to tell me about “Red Desert.”
“Bernardo didn’t give me lessons, but he and his crew taught me with practice what it means to love cinema.”
Among your latest projects, we find the Italian thriller “Weekend,” in which you play one of the protagonists imprisoned in a mountain cottage, and the series “Devils” (second season). How did you approach these different experiences, both at the production level (Italian vs English) and at the gender level? What challenges did you have to face and overcome?
Honestly, neither was it something drastically new; it was not unknown terrain. However, “Weekend” has been perhaps the most strenuous job of my career so far, at least on a physical level. We shot at the turn of the lockdown, while I was writing my thesis, and due to logistical problems related to covid, we ended up shooting several winter scenes in the middle of summer. I discovered how excessive heat can put pressure on the mind, as well as the body.
Have your career, the meetings, the projects in which you have ventured, made you discover something new about yourself?
I have to answer a bit like Antonioni did, questioned by Godard about a Cahiers du Cinema of the mid-60s, I think in the period of “Red Desert.” Antonioni says: “While we make a film, we stay alive, and therefore, even during the shooting, we are always facing our personal problems as well.” My work is one, in total continuity with the rest of my life. It is obvious that my job, as part of life, has made me discover a lot. It is difficult to separate the two.
“My work is one, in total continuity with the rest of my life.”
Looking back on your experiences between set and theatre, what is the most difficult and funniest scene you remember acting?
Most difficult: a day of filming for “Weekend” in a studio in Rome, in the middle of July; I had to keep on a sweater that will have been at least two centimeters thick abundant: few times in life have I sweated so much. The most fun… Everything. Being on set is always the most fun thing in the world.
What makes you say yes to a project?
I once met an actor who had a theory about this thing. He said that in every project the value from an artistic, career, and portfolio point of view should be evaluated and that something is worth doing only if it meets at least two of these three requirements. I don’t know if I agree, but I hope to have enough luck to be able, at least occasionally, to continue to choose only following the artistic value of a project.
When you create a character, are you more rational or instinctive?
Again, they are both fundamental aspects and difficult for me to separate. Let’s say this: my basic tendency is to be decidedly mental, and rational — so sometimes I need to compensate by opening the doors to instinct.
“My basic tendency is to be decidedly mental, and rational — so sometimes I need to compensate by opening the doors to instinct.”
What does the Kinéo Prize mean to you?
An honor, a beautiful surprise, and a reason for joy. And then, a welcome to return once again to Venice. Could it be like this every year…
What’s the worst advice and advice they’ve ever given you?
The worst advice: advise me to continue to be an actor. The best: advise me to see Renoir’s The Great Illusion.
You are a “Young Revelation” of the year: what has been an important revelation of your life up to nowadays?
That contrary to what Proust thought, jealousy is an absolute evil and friendship, on the other hand, the greatest treasure that the human being can possess.
“Jealousy is an absolute evil and friendship, on the other hand, the greatest treasure that the human being can possess.”
An epic fail on set.
I don’t know. I’ve made a series of them, but probably the worst is one I’ve never realized — something that someone else on that set will have seen from the outside thinking, “Look at this idiot…” without me noticing what I had done. We are never as ridiculous as in moments when we do not suspect it.
Your must-have on set.
I never thought about it, but probably the excerpts. So then in the middle of the day, I can leave them around somewhere without having used them.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Accept that I can feel fear.
What are you afraid of instead?
Often, when facing great difficulty, an unforeseen event, or even some great problems in society and the world, I feel a very strong fear of not being able to cope with whatever that is. It is something that rarely has rational bases, and that is not objectively justified. Over time, I am beginning to understand that underneath, probably, there is the fear of change. I have always considered myself an open-minded person, but only today have I begun to recognize how terrifying it can be to welcome change. It’s not a simple and obvious process as I’ve always liked to believe.
“I have always considered myself an open-minded person, but only today have I begun to recognize how terrifying it can be to welcome change.”
Your greatest act of rebellion?
I did the scientific high school. When I was in fifth grade, my classmates had some kind of fight with our professor of Mathematics and Physics. Some of the most ‘agitator‘ ones managed to organize some kind of class strikes, putting everyone in agreement not to show up for the simulations of the Mathematics part of the state exam. I didn’t care: I had nothing to complain about the professor, I had studied, and honestly, I liked the subject and measured myself with a difficult task. And so, my gesture of rebellion was to present myself anyway to the simulations, despite the decisions of the rest of the class. Several times it happened that I was the only one to show up in class. I think some of my mates genuinely despised me at the time.
What does it mean for you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
Accepting the present moment, the one I am living in the moment — not letting myself be carried away by a mind that, perhaps, wants to be somewhere else. It is once again a matter of acceptance.
What stories do you dream to tell?
My dream is to be able to film, as a director, an adaptation of “Ninety-Three”, a wonderful novel by Victor Hugo about the counter-revolutionary war in the Vendée.