A film-event, screening in Italian theaters for three days on March 20th-21st-22nd, “Headshot” by Niko Maggi is “a story of friendship, gaming, youth, and so many other things”. These are the words by one of the protagonists of the movie, Riccardo De Rinaldis. In the role of Samuel, the voice of reason among the gamers joining the crazy deathmatch inspired by the most well-known video games, Riccardo recognized himself a lot but, at the same time, he had a chance to test himself. Because that’s how you grow up: by going beyond your limits, out of your comfort zone, and thus maturing with your own strength.
Reflecting upon this and many other realizations, Riccardo told us about his experience on set, his love story with cinema, and all the love stories that make him happy: the one with music and singing, with photography, with friends – the true ones – and with the novels that make you cry all the possible kinds of tears.
To grow up while loving yourself more and more, finding that “state of mental peace” that becomes necessary and a safe destination.
What’s your first cinema memory?
On Sunday afternoons, when I was in elementary and middle school, my father, after taking me to the newsstand near our house to get Pokémon cards, would take me to the movies to watch anything they’d screen… However, he wouldn’t watch any of it, he’d sit next to me and have a good nap [laughs]. Among the very first movies that I have a vivid memory of watching, there’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”.
With this world, was it love at first sight, or did you fall in love with it gradually?
This love developed over time.
I fell in love with my job on my first day of set, but with cinema, I’ve been falling in love only lately. Now, I’m discovering the love I feel when I watch things, indulging in the emotions that a movie or TV series can make me feel. I’ve been really appreciating this, especially since I’ve subscribed to Mubi, which is making me discover early cinema, movies shot with Kodak, and all in v.o. After all, I’m an esthete, if I wasn’t an actor, I’d be an art director or photographer. So, images, photos, and colors do fascinate me a lot, alongside acting: I’m also very musical, so I can capture emotions that come from the right voice, and this is something I’ve been loving and discovering only recently. Better late than never.
“Now, I’m discovering the love I feel when I watch things”
Your screen debut was one of the most beloved Italian series of the moment, “Doc – Nelle tue mani”, and now we’ll be seeing you soon on the big screen in the movie “Headshot” by Niko Maggi. If you think about it, the first show is all about life and healing, while your upcoming movie is a story of danger and life threats: your latest project, in fact, tells the nightmare of a videogame that becomes too real, turning into a fight for survival. About this, what was your first thought when you read the script? And the goal you decided you wanted to achieve?
My first thought was: “This is cool!”. Unfortunately, in Italy, they don’t often make such projects, and those few they make are not really appreciated by the Italian audience because everyone makes comparisons with international projects. Moreover, this movie was written by nerds [laughs], and as I am a bit of a nerd myself, I’ve felt at home. I read the script in two hours and a half, I devoured it. It’s a story of friendship, gaming, youth, and so many other things, so the first feeling I felt was amazement, and I thought: “Man, I want to do it, I want to bring this one home”.
My character is a homosexual and, reading the script, what I thought was that luckily his story is not stereotyped, it’s not about coming out and stuff like that, for example, everything has already been sorted out: his parents know he’s gay, he has a boyfriend, he joins the game because he wants to earn some money to go on holiday with him.
So, the message I wanted to convey, which was actually already in the script, was the naturalness of a gay relationship, which is love. Full stop. Then, obviously, another aspect we wanted to highlight is the fear that everyone, at some point in the movie, starts feeling. The difference between the others and my character and Alessandro Bedetti’s, the other protagonist, is that we’re rational in some moments. Samuel, my character, is the voice of reason, compared to Chris [Bedetti], for example, who’s constantly with his head in the game, he wants to win and nothing else.
What kind of approach did you adopt to build your character, to work your way to such an atypical context, but a perspective of the dangers of the modern world?
Samuel and I have so many things in common, and the fact of having to act rational in some moments came quite naturally to me. Moreover, I talked a lot with Niko [Maggi] who, in fact, told me: “Don’t let Samuel take possession of you. I want you to be Samuel because as soon as I saw you, I thought I’d finally found someone telling me more than the character by simply identifying himself with him”.
One thing I immediately wanted to do was build a strong relationship with Alessandro because our characters are thick as thieves, they’re basically brothers, so I tried to spend as much time as possible with him to try and get to know him, and understand the way he thinks and all of this so that there could be the right chemistry between us on the scene.
What kind of relationship do you have with technology? Do you ever think about the good and the bad that it does to us?
Absolutely, it’s a double-edged sword. I’m very addicted, especially to my phone and social media, but I understand that sometimes these things take from us precious time that we could use to enrich ourselves. For example, I sing, other than acting, and I haven’t been taking singing classes for such a long time because of “lack of time”, and it makes me sad because singing has always made me feel good. I know that I’ll be less and less addicted with the passing of time, but right now I like technology, and also because I’m an esthete, I like to post and see on my Instagram feed only pretty things about places in the world, and fashion. I guess I both like and dislike technology, it depends on the moment, on the day, and on my mental state.
“A double-edged sward”
Did you discover anything new about yourself during this experience?
I discovered that I like doing horror films [laughs].
Something nice about this movie is that lots of scenes are long shots, rolling minutes where there’s never a pause and you can’t make mistakes! Luckily, though, I also found that I have a great memory and I’m quite good with movements.
Which message would you want to send the audience with this movie?
The importance of keeping your friends because friends would do anything for you. True friends.
In general, what makes you say yes to a project?
The way it’s written. It must be something that I, personally, would “devour”, that feels natural to me, I need to read it in no time, without any too evident break in the storytelling.
Then, my character needs to be someone pushing his limits a lot, someone not too similar to me because in that case, I could result unoriginal, the character could result unoriginal, and the story could result unoriginal. I would always choose characters that push me out of my comfort zone, challenge me, that make me discover new things about myself or things that I could have never thought. I need to challenge myself, and I do it, even on my own because this is how you grow up. And I am not a completely mature person yet, so I need to mature. I feel it, it’s a necessity.
“I need to challenge myself”
When you build a character, are you more rational or instinctive?
More instinctive, absolutely, because rationality comes after. As I approach a character, I don’t even ask myself, “What’s moving him?”, at the beginning I only feel empathy and try and understand why he moves in a certain way. Only later, I rationalize and focus on his past. The question that we, actors, should always ask ourselves for every scene is: where does my character come from and where are they going? So that we can find the logic in their story. So, emotions are the first element with which I approach my characters.
Music and singing, in particular, are a great passion of yours: on Instagram, you often publish videos in which you cover songs fabulously. Do you write your own songs? What kind of role does music have in your life?
I would really love to write my own things, but my idea is that I should first know how to play an instrument. Now, I’m learning to play the guitar, in fact, because I think that knowing music is very important, it’s the basis you need to be able to create, by strumming guitars, playing the piano, and then the written part comes after. Anyway, I write a lot of thoughts, and some of these thoughts will maybe become songs, someday.
Music is everything to me, it’s 90% of my days: I wake up with music, I hover my house with music in the background, and I study with “frequencies” in the background. Then, one thing I like about my job, is that it’s a bit similar to what I do with my music, which is touching notes that trigger emotions.
So, music and acting go hand in hand, for me.
What’s a song that represents this precise moment in your life?
“Futura” by Lucio Dalla. For a specific reason, which you’ll find out in a month or so.
Who or what inspires you on the job, but also in your everyday life?
My parents. They’re the first thing that came to my mind as soon as you asked.
My parents because they’re hard workers, they’ve made huge sacrifices for me, they make them every day, they give me so much, and they know everything about me. My dad, in particular, has never had us miss anything, not even during the hardest times, he always has a smile on his face and the love he feels for us is stronger than any other problem.
An epic fail on set.
Something that happens to me at times, and it’s happened lately on the set of “Vivere non è un gioco da ragazzi” by Rolando Ravello, is that in the scenes that are a bit hectic, frenetic, or tragic where I have to hysterically cry, I tend to talk nonsense, mumble incomprehensible words, mixing lines and interrupting the logic of the scene [laughs]. Rolando, for example, would make fun of me a lot when it happened. Or sometimes, choked by emotions, words won’t come out of my mouth [laughs].
Your must-have on set.
A lip balm, because my lips are always super chapped!
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Moving away from my hometown with my own strength. Growing up is so hard, so moving to a different city and maturing on my own, I think, is a very brave thing to do.
Your biggest act of rebellion?
To be honest, I’m not a rebellious person. Or rather, I get angry, but I keep it all inside, I shake it off, and I swallow the bitter pills. For example, I’ve never felt the need to rebel against my parents because we have a wonderful relationship, as I told you, and as long as I got good grades at school and was a good boy, I could do anything I wanted!
What does it mean, to you, to feel comfortable in your own skin?
It means everything. It means having found a mental and physical balance, which is something that I personally still don’t own, but I’ve been looking for it for so long. It means to feel pretty, to feel good with yourself, to feel right in your own body, to eat healthily, to love yourself more, and to get to a state of mental peace which I’m sure I’m going to find someday. It’s going to happen.
“To feel pretty, to feel good with yourself, to feel right in your own body”
The latest thing that made you smile?
A friend of mine has recently sent me a picture of myself, making fun of me for the face I make in it. It made me laugh so hard because it’s a side of me that I only show to a few people, my silliness, my goofiness. And if I show it to somebody, it means that that somebody is important and special to me.
What’s your happy place?
A nice book.
A book with a nice story, that moves you, a love story, a lively story, one that makes you cry in all the possible ways, of happiness, out of the thought that “love exists”. A nice book with a nice love story, this is my happy island. Now, I’m reading “The City and the Pillar” by Gore Vidal, while the book I read before this, and that made me cry, is “Lie With Me” by Philippe Besson.