Giuseppe Bonifati was thrilled when he landed a coveted role as attorney Iacovoni in Ridley Scott’s newest film All the Money in the World, but at the time he signed on, he had no idea that the movie would be talked about in a totally different way because of the sudden replacement of Kevin Spacey for Christopher Plummer. That written, this multi-talented individual couldn’t have been more gracious in the loving and professional ways that he described his director and costars.
All the Money in the World is set in Rome in 1973 and the story is inspired by true events of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher Plummer). His mother Gail Getty (Michelle Williams) struggles to get his billionaire grandfather John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. She finds an unlikely ally in Getty’s adviser, Fletcher Chace (Mark Wahlberg) and fights to show the value of love over money.
Bonifati was born in Calabria, Italy and was always interested in the arts. He studied at Paolo Grassi School of Dramatic Arts in Milan and continued his schooling at the National Academy of Dramatic Arts Silvio D'Amico in Rome and the International Theater Workshops in Venice.
This polyglot speaks Italian, Danish, Spanish, French and English and is professionally trained in four dance styles including ballroom, salsa, tango and waltz and sings, as well as plays the guitar. He is also a published poet and playwright.
Bonifati is the artistic director for the performing arts group Divano Occidentale Orientale, creating and directing all pieces for the company, which has toured throughout Europe and Central and South America.
The charming and funny Renaissance Man, Giuseppe Bonifati spoke with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his artistic journey (it started because he was trying to impress a girl), what he thought of working with Ridley Scott and his exciting costars like Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, how the cast was told about the Kevin Spacey departure, what he loves about working in the theater, what’s next for him, what he likes to do for fun and more.
Michelle Tompkins: Where are you from?
Giuseppe Bonifati: I was born in the south of Italy (Castrovillari) Calabria, actually from the region where the kidnappers hid Paul Getty III in 1973…
MT: Where do you live now?
GB: I live between Denmark and Hungary with my partner Linda Sugataghy. Linda is originally from Budapest.
MT: Please tell me about yourself?
GB: I have always been a rebel, so I left the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Milan in 2008 for a well renowned international theatre from Holstebro (Denmark): Odin Teatret - Nordic Laboratory Theatre. There I continued my artistic formation with two important masters and people in my life, Eugenio Barba & Julia Varley. Later I based my company there in 2011, the DOO performing arts group. In 2016 I founded the company in Denmark an artistic movement KUNSTPARTIET / "THE ART PARTY," that is based at Bomhuset - Museum for Miniature Art, the oldest house of Holstebro and maybe smallest museum of Denmark (33m2), that I have together directed with Linda since 2016.
MT: Please tell me about your childhood?
GB: In my family, we are mostly men: four including my father. My poor mother! I guess you could say I am the black sheep! I am the only one in the family who started an artistic career, among doctors, nurses, physiotherapists. I started so young that they got used to my artistic attitudes, so no big pains or regrets in my family!
MT: How did you know you wanted to be an actor?
GB: I didn't know, I was dreaming to be a dancer then...I remember I wanted to impress a girl during a school performance in the theater of the town, so I jumped literally from the stage to the audience. I managed to really impress both (the girl and the audience). The girl and I didn’t last, but my passion for arts still remains. After that big action, somebody told me: 'You know, you must do theater.' So I literally followed that suggestion the day after…
MT: You also studied music and dance, what kinds?
GB: I studied standard, Latin and modern dances between 1994-2000. I still use dance in my performing arts work, as I have embodied that sense of the rhythm. As a warm-up training, I try to transmit that to the actors with which I work or to the new groups I meet around the world.
MT: What kind of training did you receive?
GM: I started as an actor in theatre at the age of 13 with Giuseppe M. Maradei, a singular artist (who unfortunately passed away some years ago). He initiated me to the profession as he gave me also the first paying job I had ever received. Later I continued my studies of acting between the schools in Milan (Civic School of Dramatic Art "Paolo Grassi”), Rome (Beatrice Bracco, Francesca De Sapio, Michael Margotta, from Actors Studio NY), Venice (Venice Biennale - Theatre), among others… From 2008 I continued studying and working mostly abroad, in Europe and not.
I discovered, also really young, my literary and artistic ambitions as I started to write poems. I have published two books and translated the poems into different languages. I understood it was something serious and more relevant when I started traveling to Denmark, I was writing and conceiving my shows and performances, as well directing all of them. In Odin Teatret I can say I have been trained as a playwright and director too. Concerning my passion as a singer, I have never attended any studies. For that, it was enough a true passion for boleros, an inspired voice and several visits in Central and South America.
MT: What was your first professional role?
GB: My first professional role was playing “Jude.”
MT: Please tell me about your theater work?
With my ensemble, we do alternative theater and performing arts. We are really interested lately in mixing real life and performance, walking on this edge. For example "Jeppe" has been my alter ego for an 18 months project, in which I played the role of a "Candidate for the Kunstpartiet / "Art Party”, a fictional party we founded in the city of Holstebro (Denmark), together with Linda Sugataghy. The long and intensive training and experience accumulated in this 535 days long performance. It was right before I started shooting of All The Money in The World, and made help to make the path smoother for my role, as the attorney for Gail Harris (Michelle Williams).
MT: What about Broadway?
GB: I think our works are not configured for the market of Broadway, but sure we would like to bring some of them to the U.S. in the close future. More possible venues are theatres like LaMama in NY perhaps, contemporary art museums or galleries, depending on the performances we talk about. One time I have even made a performance in a strip club, but that story is for another time…
MT: Can you please confirm the spelling of your girlfriend’s name and her title as she is involved with the theater too?
GB: We met Linda Sugataghy in 2013 in Budapest. As Artist in Residence in AQB. I was starting the creation of a multidisciplinary project called The Judgement, based on Solomon´s Judgement. It included, among other things, also of a photo work and I was searching for two models through different agencies. This contemporary art project was focused on two female figures as in the biblical story and one of them was Linda...It was love at first sight. Since then we never left each other, and Budapest became my dream town and a second home.
MT: Please tell me about All the Money in the World?
GB: All the Money in the World is based on David Scarpa's screenplay and on the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, which took place in Italy in the '70s. The boy was locked in a cave for five months from the 'Ndràngheta Calabrese while his mother, Gail Harris, tried to convince his wealthy grandfather to pay the ransom.
It was for me a tremendous experience, as debuting actor in a Hollywood movie, to be a castmate of such stars like Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton, Kevin Spacey before and Christopher Plummer after. And to be directed by…Sir Ridley Scott!
MT: Who do you play?
GB: I play the attorney Giovanni Iacovoni for Gail Harris (Michelle Williams). I have also made a very personal research with the precious help of the Iacovoni family. Enrico, who first contacted me, lent me all the articles and newspapers about the Getty case carefully collected by the father Giovanni 44 years ago. This was an invaluable material of original clips, texts and photographs, through which I got to know more about the five months of Paul´s kidnapping.
Various elements were added too to the role in an organic way. Like the moment when, on the first day of shooting, Ridley Scott came and started to mess up my hair, as he saw in me an “eccentric” lawyer. From that moment on, the hair department stopped to care too much about my hairstyle because they knew that it was my personal task to mess them up, or in the best cases, the ‘Maestro´s touch’ would have done the rest...
MT: How did you celebrate getting the part?
GB: Actually, I haven’t celebrated yet, you give me a reason to do it now!
MT: Now, this movie has been in the headlines because of recasting Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer mid-production, how was the cast told about this?
GB: I was called and asked about my availability for some “pickups” during a period of 9 days and of course I was available, even though I was extremely busy in a pilot-project in Denmark... Anyway the day after, really early, I discovered the why as I saw on CNN: Kevin Spacey out of the movie All The Money in The World.
MT: How did the cast and crew need to regroup?
GB: I was present for two days of the re-shooting and I thought it might be awkward or difficult to come back to shoot in the middle of a particular and delicate situation. Instead, the atmosphere was even more familiar than in the summer. In London, the feeling was coming back to a Hollywood family, and when Ridley arrived, he hugged me and said jokingly a loud on set, ready for shooting: 'You know we are re-shooting this scene because of you?' (general laughing). As an Italian, I can confirm he has an instinctive sense of humor!
MT: What was it like to work with Ridley Scott and such a great cast and crew?
GB: It was a great experience because Ridley Scott, as director and leader, is able to make you feel comfortable, even if you are a fresh actor among such stars as Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg or Timothy Hutton. I would say that he has good ability to create a comfort zone around you. It has a lot to do with the empathy and the human side. These are very rare qualities nowadays. Sure, it has been extremely stimulating for me to be close to Ridley Scott (with whom I interacted a lot during the filming and from whom I received different advice). Certainly, the sensitivity, professionalism and elegance of Michelle Williams; as well Timothy Hutton's fantastic and disorientating pauses left me a special experience too! I was also really pleased to receive the friendliness of Mark Wahlberg both on set and offset.
MT: What is your dream part?
GB: I don't have a dream part, but maybe other directors can surprise and offer me! I can easily name a wish-list of directors, like Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Alejandro Iñarritu, Sofia Coppola, Lars Von Trier…
MT: What do you like to do for fun?
GB: I go to commercial centers and see people shopping, it relaxes me.
MT: How do you like fans to connect with you?
GB: Though pigeons-messages, or using other unpredictable ways. I like the unexpected.
MT: Is there any charity work you’d like to mention?
GB: It is difficult sometimes for us artists to see beyond our nose. But there has been one occasion in which my artistic work crossed an enormous social problem and, so I went deeper into it, even if just from an artistic point of view. Above The Skin is an urban project we bring in different countries, in Europe and not. It deals with the theme of the identity. We challenge passengers making the performers wear a “zentai” full-body lycra suit, that cannot allow the viewer to recognize who is behind it. The best example was when a black man told me “I cannot understand if you are white or black under that skin”.
I felt I was sharing with the migrants the constant feeling of being a foreigner, traveling so much, wherever country I was. So, I pointed even more on this topic for the final performance with the group of actors, hoping to give them more voice through my artistic work. I didn't do charity, but I hope our work as artists was somehow useful to these people.
MT: What’s next for you?
GB: A year already full programmed! An interdisciplinary project that I conceived and directed, called Art As Defence, touring in Denmark from winter to early summer 2018, including many actions, site-specific performances, workshops, video-installations. As well as the direction of a new theatre production in the fall of 2018 in Kaposvar (Hungary), based on a text that I wrote in 2012, called The Last Blow. It is about an Amish Family, I will direct it with a hyper-technological approach. Regarding the roles on the horizon, I have been contacted by different movie castings in the near future. So I hope to add the USA to the list of the countries I frequently visit for pleasure or work.
MT: What are your hopes for All of the Money in the World?
GB: I hope people enjoy it and it gains all the accolades that it deserves.
MT: What is something you want people to know about you?
GB: I am not so tall.
Giuseppe Bonifati can be seen in All the Money in the World that opens nationwide on Dec. 25. Check out our review here.