A talk with Alessandro Roia
The Italian actor of Romanzo Criminale talks exclusively to TBD Journal and reveals his passions between cinema and perfumes.
How your acting career was born?
I do not know, and actually I keep asking for it today and I'm not kidding. I've always thought about doing a lot of things in my life, since I was young, because I had passions; passion in knowledge, curiosity for new scenarios, and it is a feature that I have also today. The world of cinema has always intrigued me. My idea was based on a old style cinema, which is still the cinema that galvanizes me the most, not because I'm nostalgic, but because inside there were various dynamics that today is more difficult to find, such as in the writing part or in the innovation part. Now, technology is a bit cool innovation, while before a director was an inventor of his own art. However, I approached the career as an actor as a spectator; in the letter of motivation, through which I had to access the experimental cinematography center, I wrote that I wanted to make that difficult leap to be a spectator engulfing films as an actor, because in reality I was a passionate of that world. The cinema. What all of it is now, because I like a lot of other roles besides acting, I do not feel, as I say, fixed only with that. Even the variations and branches made me passionate, and then I found myself actually involved. I tried and I succeeded, and then things went a bit even alone. I've been lucky. The luck is the most important component, because if you have talent you increase that fortune you have had. If you do not have talent, which does not only mean that of a certain actor, talent is a thing linked to instinct and vision, and this is the right mix that has led me to be what I am.
If you had not been an actor what would you have liked to do?
Something that I can finally do today. I would have liked to be an entrepreneur. I had a family person, a friend of my father, who has influenced me in many things, even in tastes, he was a person that I have always valued a lot, even if I saw many faults when I grew up. He was a person who had something similar to me. A short time ago I launched a line of perfumes with my wife, and this resourcefulness, this desire to get involved on different levels, is part of that desire that does not stop, to always discover new things. Curiosity is what determines all these things, along with the thrill of facing new situations, which I do not know to the end, and in which I do not feel so in comfort zone.
First you talked about old films. If there was a film from the past that you would have liked to do or interpret what it would have been and why?
Then, as an actor certainly all that historical period linked to the combination actor / studio Scorzese-De Niro, Scorzese- Al Pacino, all that time. Then surely, also the 50s American and Italian films, because they bring something under their skin that goes beyond the story. At that time there was a desire to come out on certain types of feelings, fixations, but also luxuries that before, however, could not be declared in films, such as those with Tennessee Williams or Marlon Brando.
Is there a character you are particularly attached to or who has marked you?
So, just thinking about a character is really complicated. Surely, both Al Pacino and De Niro have helped me a lot in shaping my character in Romanzo Criminale (il Dandi), as I managed to steal and bring with me, even just the physical things of the two actors. Picasso said: "The great artist is not the one who invents but the one who steals and improves", and I believe that this is the cornerstone for an actor because of what we do. However, besides them two, I have also been in love with Jack Burton in Big Trouble in little China and certainly Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris.
Is there a character that you have interpreted that has particularly struck you and to whom you are bound?
Well it is obvious, the Dandi of Romanzo Criminale, because it is a character to which I have been able to work a lot of time and I also had a condition around me that helped me to dedicate in such sense, perhaps almost the best way I have been able to work in the next 10 years.
How long did it last?
16 months, but disconnected from one year. So, 8 months + 8 months with a break of almost a year and a half between the first and second season. But there was a prevous, of course, I speak only of the shots. These were the ideal conditions for which the character became mythological and today celebrates even after 10 years. The way you could work, the way it was written, the way it was directed, a mixture of events that made Romanzo Criminale not just a cult, but the revolution for contemporary TV in Italy.
A director with whom you would like to work in the near future?
A person with I would like to work for various reasons, but at the same time I would be afraid to work with, because he is a very good friend, is Luca Guadagnino. Luca has been a friend for almost 20 years and I think he is very good, the best for what my taste is, but then I would be scared because of our friendship. The set creates energies and synergies of contrast, as a result of union, so in reality, that's okay. I prefer to continue to admire his movies as a spectator.
The skill of an actor is to play various characters, we know that you are a successful actor of Italian fiction as "Tutto può succedere", and then this summer the horror "The End" came out. How was filming an horror and having this totally different facet in your career. Is this an experience you liked? Would you do it again?
I would certainly do it again because that has always been the feature of my career over the past 10 years. Let's say that if we move from Romanzo Criminale on, what has been there before were all just experieces that helped me to improve my skills, I just wanted to differentiate myself and iwithout following safe steps. For example, in "Tutto può succedere" I wanted to participate only for a year, because I enjoyed being able to work with directors that I considered friends. It was a choice, I did not want to give a long seriality to my character. This is definitely, for me, a strong point, maybe not for the develop if the career, because for a career this is a schizophrenia does not help me. But I'm so happy. Make a horror in Italy with that structure, apart from that I would have done regardless of why I had already worked with Manetti and it was fine, but then remains a luxury, because it depends a lot on how you live it, and sometimes you can have a career even more important in terms of visibility, popularity and awards, but then you have to be taken for granted in the choices you make, because you have to maintain that status as an actor. I do not care about the status, because I do what I like. Of course I can afford to do it, and since I am not only related to this world, as I think there is something else, also as economic support, I do not base everything on this kind of choices and I allow myself the freedom to do what I want .
Because the sector is very unpredictable?
No, because if you depend on that sector, you also depend on the life that a person has after work. An artistic career is a roller coaster, there is the moment when you make a lot of money and the time you earn less. Not depending only on the world of acting, trying to do something else gives you a different point of view, you are less a slave to yourself, the image of the actor and then you can give yourself the willingness to do what you want to do that gives you support. Let me be clear, many times I have made a mistake, other times I have made decisions, even just to tie them to my private. I do not know, maybe give up some films that could be more important to have a certain type of image, and I chose to stay in Rome and I did something else, because I wanted to stay close to my son. But that's the beauty, it's that I've never regretted it. I repeat, I never want to be a slave to my job, never, I'm not a surgeon, I do not save lives. I have to be the master of the situation, as soon as you lose this stuff here, in this world, you become a little puppets of the system
Instead, as far as your style is concerned, we used to talk about Dandi, your character in Romanzo Criminale, while now in the "fashion" definitions the Dandy is used a lot. How do you feel, more Dandi or Dandy?
The truth is that the Dandi (ndr the character of Romanzo Criminale) was the opposite of his nickname, because he was an oafish, who was not able to bring back what he wanted to be in his real life.My character wanted to pose like a Dandy, but in the end his figure was only ''grotesque'' in that sense. As far as my life is concerned, I did so much effort to identify what was my dimension of style; since I was a kid I have always been a lover of magazines of all kinds, , I buy magazines that regards everything I like, I read, I am passionate. When I was a boy I bought the Vogue Man, and I'm talking about the 90s, I saw things that did not interest me there, but also others I liked, but for a boy, there were some logistical difficulties to have that kind of style. And I struggled a lot, I arrived in adulthood, but I am very happy to have found what is my being. For example, that person I was talking about, the family friend, had a great style, from choosing clothing to perfume, from how he put the hair to the car, he could clearly afford that status. He had a style that I admired, but as a boy I obviously could not replicate. Moreover, in my family I never had clear codes in this sense, I did not have grandfathers or a father who had institutionalized that culture, so it was a research that is still taking place now.
Now where are you looking for?
I exceeded that level of excitement. There was a compulsive moment where I bought a lot of clothes, maybe, too creative. But now I found my path, I really like being inspired, that is seeing things and turning them on myself. Interpret them. My manifest ignorance in this field, in reality is only a fertile territory, for instance if I see Fabio putting on the blog or post something I like, I write him: "Fabio explain to me, you tell me how it is?" I ask, I look for, I inform myself, I am passionate. I'm a bit nerd on these things.
What is your accessory, your must have, the thing that never fails?
We talk a lot about the "Me Too" phenomenon, in America and now Italian colleagues as well are involved, do you think the world of cinema has changed in the last years or do you think this phenomenon has always existed but we are aware of it just now the story is a little out because someone has had the courage to do it?
It's not so much a question of cinema, but linked to environments, look now at Ronaldo. But it's all very delicate, it's a very delicate matter. However, there is talk of sexual violence in many of those cases. I believe that if we manage to get out of this Middle Ages that we are experiencing today, perhaps the female figure within the ruling class from a certain point of view can balance certain dynamics. However, it remains a fundamental cultural issue. It really is a Middle Ages of humanity. The Me Too is a movement to make clear certain dynamics, which we all knew perhaps, or maybe not so clear; a person must be very careful about what is the fact, the denunciation, what is a process, what is a fault. The media are very dangerous on such delicate speeches, in my opinion, they do more harm than good. It is clear that sensitization is necessary, but it is a sensitization on the human, that is, a human who behaves like that can do other horrible things or it is the same power that makes you think you can do everything ... I do not know, it's a complicated topic, clearly I do not even feel the need to say, "Ah I support it", for me it is a natural thing that there is a parity of behavior between men and women. Unfortunately it embarrasses me thinking that we are still like this.
Let's talk about your new family adventure, how did you come up with the idea of founding a perfume company?
I was born as a consumer. My wife and I have been on this thing since the early days of our relationship. I have always linked everything to smells, even when I was talking about my father and his dear friend, they have always had special scents that make me think of them. Olfactory memory has always been very important for me, and also for my wife. Thus, we have always talked about fragrances, perfumes. We became customers of a retail that is throughout Italy, Campo Marzio70, and we started from there. They always do research, they sell niche brands and so, being two fans, we started to buy and collect many different perfumes. Even, I have fragrances that are closed, which I do not use, others I use, but I stretch out, and then there are the twins closed somewhere else. About 6 years ago we took a trip to Provence, we went to Grasse where there is the school of perfumers, very cool, we had a beautiful trip and we started talking about this thing: "Why do not we do a project?" . Over the past two and a half years it has evolved, and it has become concrete, so we decided to follow a line of a word that is not so obvious, that is, love, as respect for people. Our claim is "People Who Love", people who love, as a network of loves, that is, the people we choose to spend time with, that we choose to live, in addition to the family, that we know well is not always said the family is the cradle of love. But let's say that starting from that, it can also be the family that you choose. You live in Milan, you have to make a network of people, your family, and that's a bit of the concept we ride. Moreover, we do not give sexuality to perfumes, this stems from the fact that my wife stole my perfume and I stole perfumes from her, then I mix, I still mix ours too!
Upcoming projects? Where will we see you soon?
The last year I worked until July for this new job that has to go out, then I took a period of stop, because I have to follow this new project, also helping my wife who worked so much alone while I was filming. In 2019, a series called "La Compagnia del Cigno" will be released. It is the story of a group of young musicians that attend the Milan Conservatory, and my character I am linked to the main character. It is a beautiful production, which also touches on important issues such as homosexuality.
Italian for you is?
Alessandro Roia wearing our new model Twill (Coming Soon) // Fabio Attanasio wearing Mohair Gold
Ph: Nafiseh Kaboudvand