Starring in Claudia Gerini’s new movie, “Tapirulàn,” Lia Grieco has a huge passion for art, life, emotions, and adventure. Devoted to the power of cinema, an expert in emotional education, which, as she told us, is the biggest strength of that world, Lia is only at the beginning of her career; despite this, she’s already learned the art of freeing oneself from judgment, especially of the aesthetic kind, when it’s about coexisting with the characters you need to play.
About the encounters that have changed her life, the funniest and most wrong pieces of advice she’s ever received, her inspirations and behavioral models, Lia has talked with us in a spontaneous and trusting way, also lingering on her conflictual relationship with dance and love for singing, of which she dreams perhaps inspired by a special happy place.
What’s your first cinema memory?
We would watch lots of movies, at my place. I think my dad has watched every movie ever made in this world, of any genre and era, but without ever remembering the titles nor the names of the actors or actresses starring in it. I remember that I would often stop with him to catch a glimpse of some scenes from the movies he would be watching and was enchanted, intrigued. My very first conscious cinema memory, though, I think is “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.” The protagonists were slightly older than me and I totally identified with that world, and those characters, up to a point where I sincerely got emotional with them, I was totally involved. I also think that this is the greatest strength of cinema, the ability to give back a sort of emotional education, an exercise of empathy.
You’re one of the protagonists of the movie “Tapirulàn,” directed by Claudia Gerini. What aspect of this project has intrigued you the most when you came to know it?
It’s a movie with lots of particular aspects, but one of the aspects that instantly stand out reading the script is the fact that almost none of the characters really meets Emma, the protagonist. This might seem weird, but it also gets normalized from the situation, which is the same one we’re living in today.
We’re more and more used to virtual closeness and less to the physical one, and we’re getting quite good with handling this virtuality, in the sense that we tend to humanize it, or at least we try.
What was your first thought when you read the script and the first question you asked the director?
The first thought was, “Daje!!!” as we say in Rome, “Come on, let’s go!”. I remember I asked Claudia thousands of questions during the first live audition we did, the scene was touching and I wanted to represent the situation of this girl in the best way possible, I wanted to be specific, she helped me a lot to pick out something truthful to bring to the character.
How did you build Gaia, the character you play?
I tried to empathize with the situation described and not to be judgmental, sticking to what was noted in the script, which is never wrong.
How much of you is there in your character? And what has Gaia left in you, instead?
The conflict that Gaia lives in revolves around a huge and, perhaps, universal issue: self-acceptance, the desire to like herself, to be liked by the others, by her parents, by everyone, or no one at all. It’s really a big thing, it’s tough and extremely delicate. I work on this kind of aspect every day and I never feel satisfied, but maybe this is the healthy way. So, I guess this conflict is what I feel the closest to me about this character, or at least it’s what rings a bell. Creating it has been therapeutical, I’ve given myself the possibility to act while freeing myself from aesthetical judgment, and as an actress, it’s a huge liberation!
“…I’ve given myself the possibility to act while freeing myself from aesthetical judgment, and as an actress, it’s a huge liberation!”
The movie tells the life of a woman, Emma (Claudia Gerini) who has a habit of dwelling on things while running on the treadmill. Is there an activity that, just like running for Emma, helps you think? And what prevents you from thinking, instead?
I always get lost in my thoughts, especially when I knit hats and scarves (it’s so satisfying and it’s not for old people, I swear!). To avoid thinking, instead, I need to do something that engages emotionally me, I would feel that way while dancing. As of today, I guess I manage not to overthink when I sing and maybe when I act, I think it’s for this reason that I consider it a necessity.
How would you describe “Tapirulàn” with just one word?
What kind of role does dance still play in your life?
This is a super hard question. I have a very conflictual relationship with dance, I’ve always had, actually. I quit when I was 21 and I’ve never gotten back to it. It’s part of me and it will certainly keep being so for the rest of my life. If I do some math, I spent more years dancing than the amount of time in which I haven’t, as I started doing it professionally when I was nine. However, I have to say that I’m very happy I took a different path, I don’t deny anything about my journey, but to have given myself another chance has certainly been the rightest thing to do for me.
Would you like to combine the world of dance and the world of acting in one single project?
I’ve just imagined myself doing an audition for a hypothetical remake of “Black Swan” … It would be incredible, other than a huge challenge, not only from an acting point of view but also from a human one. It would be nice to narrate something that I know well in a different key, and it would also be a way to exorcise a whole series of things…
Well, I guess the answer, then, must be a big yes!
A character from the movies you’d love to be friends with?
Quentin Tarantino, I’d love so much to have him as a friend, I think he’s so fun and I believe I could make him laugh as well!
Which real-life character would you like to play? Maybe someone from the dance world…
Let me first say that playing whatever real-life character is a unique chance for any actor or actress. Anyhow, rather than someone from the dance world, as of today I’d immensely love to play a real-life singer. Singing is my second big passion after acting. When I quit dancing, I was torn between which one of the two paths I could have tried to take, and maybe I chose acting because I really can’t write songs and also because acting gives you the chance to be anything you want, which is the most incredible thing! I wouldn’t want to talk big, but should a movie about Mina be in development, I would fight and scramble to audition.
“Acting gives you the chance to be anything you want”
The most significant cinematographic encounter of your career, so far?
Although I’m just at the beginning of my career, I’ve already been lucky enough to work with super talented actors of any age, both in the theater and in the Netflix TV show “Luna Park,” and also in movies. However, as far as cinema is strictly concerned, Claudia Gerini has perhaps been the most significant encounter. I’ve always admired her, and having had the chance to work with her has really been rewarding.
Who or what inspires you on the job, but also in your everyday life?
You know what? I can’t really figure it out precisely! I get inspired by something different every day. I get so easily enthusiastic! I’m like a child from this point of view, so whatever happens to me, colliding with my life, is potentially an incentive, and inspiration.
If I think about that, though, the constant inspiration I’ve had in my life and that has guided me in a way, is my sister, Eva. Besides being a wonderful person, she’s also a dancer, actress, poet, and choreograph, I mean, I’m not afraid to say that I think she’s a real artist, and not because she knows how to do all those things, but for the way she does them and the depth she can give every single one of those. She’s always been a role model for me.
“…whatever happens to me, colliding with my life, is potentially an incentive, and inspiration.”
The playlist of your life begins and ends with which song?
It could start with “It’s Oh So Quiet” by Bjork, or with a nice “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp and end with any song by Filippo, Fulminacci. I honestly think that any of his songs could fit any finale, making it perfect.
The best piece of advice that has impacted the most your way of working? And the biggest bullshit that’s ever been said to you and you’re happy not to have listened to?
The greatest and the most exhilarating piece of advice I’ve ever received was something that my teacher from the Art School Film Gian Maria Volontè told me, after several days and hours of class on the study of characters, techniques, methods, exercises, sensorial experiences, right before rehearsing the famous balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet” said to me: “All right… Now forget about everything.” The biggest bullshit I’ve heard is the one that’s yet to be said… No, come on, I’m joking! I wanted to sound philosophic… Maybe, the fact that to stand out in an audition you already need to be like the character they’re looking for, or you somehow need to resemble them also when you’re not acting, in real life. Well, I think this is immensely huge bullshit.
The bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I know this! It’s been right after my Art School graduation. I moved to Brussels, Belgium, I left without a penny, really, I almost didn’t even tell my parents, I mean, I told them the day before leaving and they were obviously unhappy about it… Once there, I quit dancing and spent some time on the limb, wondering what I could have done with my life from there on.
What are you afraid of, instead?
Even though the answer to your previous question made me sound like an adventurous woman, my biggest fear is the void. The loneliness, the idea of being “inactive” with no incentives or precise destination, finding myself with nothing to believe in or to hope for. Maybe, I’m a bit of a control maniac, I don’t know!
“with nothing to believe in or hope for”
The latest person/thing that made you smile?
Brando Pacitto, an actor friend of mine who, while I’m working on this interview, is improvising as a handyman and trying to fix my broken chair with wood putty, he says he can do it, he’s very skilled … He makes me smile, but maybe I’ll stop smiling when he’s done.
What does “feeling comfortable in your own skin” mean to you?
It means to be conscious.
What’s your happy place?
Filippo is definitely my happy island.
Photos & Video by Johnny Carrano.
Makeup by Carmen Simeone.
Thanks to Woolcan.
Location: MAAM Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove di Metropoliz.
Total Look: Art dealer
Rings: Voodoo Jewels
Total Look: Miu Miu
Earrings: Gala Rotelli
Necklace: Lil Milan
Total Look: REDValentino
Rings: Voodoo Jewels