Interview with Alessandro Borghi (Italy): “If you want to work in Cinema, you have to love it, not practice it”

by February 20, 2017

Alessandro Borghi

Alessandro Borghi (©Ralf Uhler for EFP)

After appearing in several TV series, Alessandro Borghi attracted the audience’s attention in 2015 with his lead role in Claudio Caligari’s “Don’t Be Bad,” which earned him the Nuovolmaie Talent Award as Best Newcomer Italian Actor in Venice that year. He then picked up two nominations for the Davide di Donatello for this role and his performance in Stefano Sollima’s “Suburra”, the first Italian Netflix series, that garnered him a Kinèo Award at the 2016 Venice Film Festival. Borghi will soon be seen in his first international role, a cameo in French director Lisa Azuelos’ “Dalida.”

Andra Gheorghiu talked to him about his career so far and his relationship with his characters, Italian Cinema, and his experience as one of the 2017 Shooting Stars.

 

 

You started your career as a stuntman and as a model. How do you think these beginnings have influenced it?

Alessandro Borghi: I don’t think it influenced in any way my career. When I was a stunt, I never thought that I would be an actor. I started acting when I was eighteen, absolutely casually. My current agent saw me going out of the gym and asked me if I want to do an audition for a fiction movie and I said: “No way! I can’t! I’m not an actor,” but then, I went to the audition and now, twelve years later, I’m in front of you, talking about this…

How did you get your big break?

A.B.: The big break was when Steffano Sollima, the director of Suburra called me and told me that I am Number 8, one of the characters of the film. For ten years, I have been working mostly in television and it’s so different, very different – like a completely other world. So, when I got, for the first time, the opportunity to make a film for the Cinema – this film, Suburra – my career changed completely. Right now, I only think about films for the Cinema, but just because I feel more comfortable with the time we have to think about a certain character, to build a background. It’s not about money – in Italy we don’t have money. In a year, we only have two huge films, and blockbusters for Christmas. We usually make films with a low budget but a lot of heart, a lot of common love for the project. When Steffano called me the first time to tell me that I will be part of the film, that completely changed everything.

Italian Cinema is experiencing a boom; its presence at festivals is bigger every year. How do you position yourself in it?

A.B.: If I have to think about the situation of Cinema in Italy right now, I’m really happy because we have a great movement; there are a lot of young talented directors, scriptwriters and actors and I’m proud to be a part of it. As I said before, we don’t have money but we still manage to make great films. We are present at festivals all around the world and all that is done with low budget!

Which of your characters has changed your life?

A.B.: I have one that completely changed my live and that is Vittorio from Don’t Be Bad – I really fell in love with the film and the character, because it’s a story of friendship. For me, friendship is the most important thing in my life, because it’s love. I need to get really close to reality and the dynamics between human beings, because if the emotion is inside you, everything is easier. If you don’t have to think about “What can I say? What can I do? What does the character think in this situation?” – if you have a good background, everything goes.

Why are you so attracted to stories from the suburbs of Rome?

A.B.: I had a lot of friends from the suburbs and most of them are drug addicts, so Don’t Be Bad is a result of everything I can remember about when I was sixteen–eighteen. I remember that I was the one who could drive the car to come back home and I just observed all the people around me. I put all these details in my baggage and I can use it – but not only for Don’t Be Bad. I think that the most important thing for an actor is to live, to meet people, to observe… Because that’s how you get the tools to make something real. You have to build something and, often, I don’t like to build – things just happen.

What was your most emotional experience?

A.B.: It is probably the film with Claudio Caligari, the director of Don’t Be Bad, because he has a particular story. He only made three films in thirty years of career. He was a real outsider. He didn’t care about the money, ever. He would just tell good stories, close to people and family. When I met him the first time he was really sick and he passed away ten days after we had finished shooting. We went to Venice without him. He taught me that we have to show love to people and this is our job. If you want to work in Cinema you have to love it, not practice it – it’s a different thing. He was completely in love with the project and that was the most emotional experience for me.

How do you think Shooting Stars will influence your acting career from now on?

A.B.: Right now, I’m really happy for the opportunity because you can meet a lot of people. In Italy, we are so closed. I enjoy the opportunity. Yesterday, we met a lot of casting directors from all over the world. Maybe, in one life it’s impossible to meet all these casting directors. It was great to begin, to understand how it works, what is the right way to go… I have to manage this information in my future – this is the most important thing – and I can start thinking of something more concrete. I’m so proud to represent my country.

By Andra Gheorghiu