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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Roman Actor Luca Zingaretti: Diverse as his Eternal City

His career is diverse as he has played everything from a Fascist tablecloth salesman to a 5-star womanizing chef. He has been onstage, on television and on the big screen but the one thing that is always consistent is the strong conviction with which he portrays each role.

Roman born actor Luca Zingaretti is a fixture in Italian cinema and television. His guy next store appeal gives him the ability to assimilate into a crowd yet hold his own in the presence of other cinema heavyweights. Zingaretti had his eye on entertainment at a young age and was classically trained at Rome's prestigious drama school, Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica Silvio D'Amico. Upon graduating in 1984, he immediately hit the stage, appearing in classic plays such as Chekhov's "Three Sisters" and Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus."

A few years after graduating film school, he landed his first feature film role in Giuliano Montaldo's "Gli occhgioriali d'oro" (The Gold-Rimmed Glasses) and later that year made his first television appearance in "Il Giudice Istruttore" (The Investigating Magistrate) by the late film director and screenwriter, Florestano Vancini. In the mid-90's, he gained recognition by working with directors, Marco Risi and Ricky Tognazzi. Then, his big break came in 1999 with the lead role as

Salvo Montalbano, a loyal inspector in search of justice, in RAI television's, "Il commissario Montalbano," a mystery series based on the character and novels created by Andrea Camilleri. The series ran for a whopping 12 years and consisted of 22 films. Since the series ended, he's taken on a variety of roles working with seasoned directors like Pupi Avati and Marco Tullio Giordana as well as younger filmmakers like Daniele Luchetti and Ivan Cotroneo. Between 2008 and 2010, he worked on eight new Montalbano films that were broadcast on RAI through 2013. The original Montalbano mystery series may have ended, but the actor has not abandoned the character. Zingaretti is mesmerizing to watch in both lead and supporting roles. In Daniele Luchetti's 2007 drama, "Mio fratello è figlio unico" (My Brother Is An Only Child). Zingaretti had a supporting role as Mario Nastri, the aforementioned Fascist tablecloth salesman. In the film, he plays a father figure to the lead character, Accio, a rebellious teenager who feels like the black sheep of his family. Mario Nastri is caring and takes the boy into his home. On the other hand, he is strong in his Fascist beliefs and carries out violent acts in the name of politics. When he meets his sad fate, you can't help but empathize with Accio when he cries for "poor Mario".

In the docudrama, "Perlasca," Zingaretti plays another Fascist character. This time,  the title role of Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian credited for saving thousands of Jews during World War II.  During the fall of Mussolini in 1943, Perlasca was working for an Italian importer in Budapest, Hungary. When Italians residing in the country were urged home, Perlasca refused, on the grounds that he did not want to live under German occupation in Italy. He stayed in Budapest and found work with a Spanish envoy. He, along with other members of the diplomatic community, issued protective passes to Budapest Jews. In late 1944, after the Spanish envoy left the country, he appointed himself in charge and continued issuing protective passes. In the end, about 3,500 Hungarian Jews were saved because of his efforts. Zingaretti articulately communicates the sensitivity and passion that Perlasca had as he carried out this brave mission. The film is a two-part made for TV movie, which serves as a history lesson and entertaining drama.

Zingaretti continues to move back and forth between television and cinema. He recently worked on a program for Rai titled, "Il giudice meschino." Directed by Carlo Carlei, the project gave ZIngaretti the opportunity to work with his wife, actress Luisa Ranieri. It was not the first time the couple had worked together. They also shared the screen in the television miniseries, "Cefalonia," directed by Riccardo Milani.

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