VENICE, September 8 – He’s one of Italy’s best-known faces, but even by Toni Servillo’s criteria, it’s been a busy week, with no less than three films premiering at the Film Festival of Venice.
The 62-year-old’s expressive face lent itself perfectly to everything from larger-than-life politicians like Silvio Berlusconi to a mob boss in Gomorrah.
He is perhaps best known abroad for his decades-long collaboration with director Paolo Sorrentino, including his starring role in the Oscar-winning film. The great beauty.
Sorrentino, who describes Servillo as an older brother, chose him again in his latest film, God’s hand, which received positive reviews in Venice last week.
He sees Servillo playing the role of the director’s father in the autobiographical film set in Naples during the heady years when football legend Diego Maradona delivered big dreams to the southern city.
Twenty years ago, the couple were together in Venice with Sorrentino’s first feature film, a man, and they’ve worked together on almost all of the director’s Italian projects since.
On Wednesday he was back for the premiere of The king of laughter, directed by Mario Martone, in which he plays the famous Neapolitan actor of the turn of the century Eduardo Scarpetta.
The two God’s hand and The king of laughter are competing for the Golden Lion this year.
And Servillo also plays in Ariaferma, playing out of competition, as a prison guard in an establishment awaiting imminent closure.
Asked by AFP about his omnipresence on the red carpet this year, he gave one of his characteristic smiles by declaring: “Despite myself”.
While the cinema has certainly kept him busy, Servillo said he looks forward to returning to the cinema as soon as possible.
âLike many of my colleagues, Covid has blocked my theatrical activities. As soon as it is easy, I will go back to the theater, “he told AFP.
âI am not one of those actors who see the theater as a waiting room for the cinema. I am a theater activist!
Born in 1958 in Naples, Servillo perfected his art in experimental theater in the 1970s and 1980s in Naples before making his mark in cinema.
The king of laughter was a chance to tap into those theatrical roots, while also nodding to the rich comedic tradition of his hometown.
âI’ve been on stage for 40 years,â he said. âI’ve done thousands of plays all over the world, so I know theater life.
âThis is the story of a special time when Naples was … a capital of culture, not only of Italy but of Europe, and Scarpetta was a hero of that city.
“It was a comic that inspired joy and enthusiasm.” – AFP