Actor by vocation politician by passion-Interview with Nicola Acunzo

Someone said he is Campano, someone else claimed he is Calabrese. In reality, Nicola Acunzo was born in Varese to a Cosentina mother and a Neapolitan father. He is one of the best character actors in Italy today. He made his debut in the theater and became much in demand in the cinema as well. It was directed by directors such as Vincenzo Salemme, in the theatre, and Mario Monicelli and Michele Placido in the cinema, just to name few, and he has worked on 50 films. In 2016, the United International Film Fest in Los Angeles awarded him as “Best Leading Actor” with the short film by Luigi Comandatore entitled Consurgo.

As a man he is an enthusiast and an optimist. He loves walking his dog, reading and has a great passion for Harley Davidsons. In him the actor and the politician coexist, two roles that he manages with a certain familiarity, being in politics since he was 19 years old. During his parliamentary experience, always in favor of the diffusion of all forms of culture, he gave birth to Giornata Mondiale del Cinema Italiano (The World Day of Italian Cinema) which is celebrated every January 20th, with the Italian cultural institutes in the world (find all the info by following the link www.giornatamondialedelcinemaitaliano)

Nicola is currently working on the story of Lorenzo Rago, the mayor of Battipaglia who died in 1953. After directing the short film Il Silenzio di Lorenzo (Lorenzo’s Silence) he wanted to resume

the story, believing he wanted to talk about some interesting aspects of this Italian thriller. Who knows if a theatrical show, a film or, why not, even a TV series will come out of it, the kind that keep you in suspense until the end.

What do you remember of your first audition?

N.A.: “A movie could be written about my first audition.

At the beginning of my staying in Rome as an actor no one gave me the chance to audition. So, one day, the art of “getting by” inherited from my father comes forward with a brilliant idea, that of slipping myself among the extras of a film with Francesco Nuti “Concorso di Colpa”. I pretended to be an extra and went to have my first film audition.

– If I’m really good, they’ll notice me – I thought.

And it was like this. At the audition, in which it was only necessary to say name, last name and origin, I invented a curtain playing on my height… I heard a voice from the back of the room saying:

– It’s him, it’s him! –

The same voice told me to approach and gave me the script of the film to read the lines of a Police Inspector. I was thrilled! I arrived with my heart pounding on my first day of set! I had the dressing room right next to the director. In the meantime, I greeted the gentleman who gave me my first script in my hand with a pat on the back of his neck. Then I asked a colleague where the director was, to get to know him, he looked at me amazed and said:

– Claudio Fragasso is the one you were playing with a few minutes ago.-

This is to say how important it is to be spontaneous and without superstructures. If I had known that the director was present during my audition, I might not have been so spontaneous.”

What do you keep from the Calabrian cultural heritage and what from the Campania one?

N.A.: “Definitely the tenacity of the Calabrians, transmitted to me by my mother Anna and the art of getting by with a smile on my face taught to me by my father Salvatore, originally from Boscoreale, on the slopes of Vesuvius. Two cultures of great school for those who choose difficult paths such as the artistic one.”

Nicola Acunzo Brooklyn

How do you see yourself as a man and as an actor?

N.A.: “I think I can define myself as a transparent person, without superstructures. I am someone who looks people in the eye, listening to their energies, and to the sensations they give me before their titles or background. I’m an optimistic. I always see the glass half full. I never expect great things from others but I expect truth from those around me. I can’t stand cheating. Of any kind. I fight at the cost of leaving the pens, the various injustices I see. I often forgive, maybe too much and I try not to make too hasty judgments about things and people…Even if I always keep my first feeling that most of the time turns out to be right.”

What’s the secret to be able to manage the man, the actor and the politician roles?

N.A.: “Actually, the 3 things are part of a single essence: your person. If transparency, sincerity and passion are your lifestyle there are not 3 different roles to reconcile but you are simply Nicola. You will find yourself in varied circumstances to be able to express yourself: at home, on set and in Parliament.”

What was the turning point when you decided to act and moved to Rome?

N.A.: “When I felt within me that acting only in theater was no longer enough for me… I wanted to get involved and I dreamed of making at least one film. Today it doesn’t seem true that there are almost 50 films in which I have taken part.

You have been awarded as “BEST LEADING ACTOR” at the United International Film Fest in Los Angeles 2016. Can you tell us what was your reaction immediately after the call?

N.A.: “I honestly thought it was a joke by the director. He was having big successes with our short but also winning as a best actor … I actually didn’t even think about it. My reaction was to honestly thank Luigi Comandatore. The awards are the result of teamwork which becomes fundamental in the cinema. If the director hadn’t honestly entrusted me with that role today we wouldn’t be talking about this. And to think that it all started thanks to Danny Aiello whom I met by chance in Times Square. He wanted me to meet the Italian director and friend of him Luigi Comandatore. Therefore I thanked Danny as well.”

At the time it was rumored that ‘CONSURGO’ would become a film. Is there any news about this?

N.A.: “Yes! From that short the screenplay of the film was written by the Academy Awards’ winner Alex Dinelaris (The Birdman). Short movies have enormous potential, which is why in my parliamentary experience I gave birth to the world day of Italian cinema which is celebrated every January 20th, birth date of Federico Fellini, with the Italian cultural institutes, because I hope that Italian short filmmakers can see their shorts become real films and become the new masters. In all probability, we will shoot the film Consurgo, this year, in Autumn, and it will be directed by Luigi Comandatore.”

You began your career as a theater actor. What do you think is the real power of theater?

N.A.: “The real power of theater is that the strength of the actor cannot ignore the audience. The real power lies in creating a world together with the spectators, who are called into question even if not directly. It is the energy that they also release in the room that allows the actors to perform in a specific way. It is the mutual exchange that creates the real magic of the theater. An art form that cannot ignore the viewer and the strength of an actor is being able to immediately create that dimension.”

Have you ever used your celebrity to get something you really wanted?

N.A: “No. I always introduce myself as Nicola. Nicola always comes before the actor. What a boring life would be the opposit. I really enjoy everyday life, being around people and experiencing the places that everyone lives in the same way. I enjoy shopping at the supermarket rather than taking public transportation, for example, I love the subway. I always like it when I’m recognized, but I always make an effort so that whoever I meet doesn’t lose the spontaneity I need. The expressions, gestures, behaviors of ordinary people in ordinary places are necessary for the characters I play but also to realize what really goes around me. If I would loose this contact I would feel dry, both artistically and socially. In order to do this it is the man, the person I am, who must interact with the world and not the actor.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

N.A.: “In my free time I take long walks with my 4-legged friend Charlie, looking for green spaces for him but also for me. I keep fit by jogging and when the weather permits I get on my Harley Davidson. I read enough, but above all I love getting lost in bookstores and buying books, promising myself toread them all later. A promise promptly disregarded.”

Is it true that artists remain children forever?

N.A.: “In principle it is true. if you were born geometrically round it is difficult for life or someone to make you a square. And in some respects this is a good thing. Safeguard the beauty of diversity.”

Is there any artistic project you are currently working on?

N.A.: “I’m working on a play on the story of Lorenzo Rago, the mayor of Battipaglia who disappeared in January 1953. A few years ago I talked about him through the direction of a short film entitled Il Silenzio di Lorenzo, but in that short version I didn’t have the chance to mention many other aspects of this Italian mystery as the probable involvement of men like Lucky Luciano in the story.”

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