Tom Jolliffe chats with actor Gianni Capaldi about his career, working with Dolph Lundgren and Vinnie Jones, and his upcoming work in Hard Rush, Blood of Redemption and Wicked Within…
Gianni Capaldi was born in Motherwell, Scotland, to Italian parents. In his younger days he played football at youth level for Motherwell FC. Though his footballing career didn’t progress beyond this point he switched his focus onto the hospitality business. Business orientated and strong willed, Capaldi managed a string of family owned businesses in Scotland before eventually finding himself working in Los Angeles. He managed a few well known Hollywood nightclubs and it would be here he would make the connections and attain the desire to switch focus again and become an actor.
Capaldi’s debut came in 2005 in the Poker mockumentary, All In. Since that time, as actor and also producer he has found himself sharing the screen with a long list of high profile actors such as Morgan Freeman, Michael Clarke Duncan, Vinnie Jones, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo and more.
Capaldi can next be seen in the upcoming action/thriller Hard Rush (Out September 23rd), starring alongside Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones and Randy Couture. A week later will see the release of Blood of Redemption (September 30th) in which Capaldi once again shares the screen with Lundgren, Jones, as well as Billy Zane and Robert Davi.
He was kind enough to share some time with us and offer some insight into his career and working in Hollywood…
Gianni Capaldi: I always had a passion for the arts. I think I watched every film I could growing up and kept the local DVD shop in business. I think they actually used to give me posters of films because I was such a good customer. Once I moved to LA it was a done deal. All you do here is talk film, how could I not get dragged in? I joined up with Stella Adler and a few other teachers and that was the road to now. I enjoyed every minute of it.
TJ: How would you normally approach a role? Can you just switch into a character on a take, or do you like to delve deeper to create a background for a character before stepping in front of camera?
GC: I wish for me it would be that easy. I am a method actor, so I study the character first, figure out who he was, is and will be, mannerisms, characterizations, loves, hates, etc then I think of any similar role I’ve seen someone enact previously. I’ll watch a few films to gather some do’s and don’ts and become that character. I come home after work as that character and it usually takes me a week to shake it off after the film is over. You can imagine living with me can be no fun!
TJ: You’ve worked with some very established actors early on in your burgeoning career. Is there any advice you’ve received that has proved particularly useful or any advice you can give to aspiring actors?
GC: Yes, I’ve been lucky to work with Morgan Freeman, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Sizemore so early on in my career. Michael actually prayed with me before a take, he was such a devout Christian, it was sad to see him go. Best advice I’ve ever been given was play a good guy “bad” and a bad guy “good”. That makes sense. You’ll be loved as the good guy so put a twist on him to make him interesting and allow your bad guy to have a sympathetic side so the audience end up caring for him. One last note for young actors, one of the most brilliant female actors I’ve worked with or seen in action was Brit, Sienna Guillory, who played my wife in the horror film, soon to be released, Wicked Within. She always gave just as good a performance for me off camera as when she was on camera. Such a great respect for others.
TJ: Hard Rush is due out in the UK on September 23rd, can you tell us a little bit about the film and your character?
GC: Hard Rush is a brilliant film. Basically it involves two guys, Frank and Eddie (me), who rise the ladder of drug selling in LA, while taking on Vinnie Jones’ evil character, a crooked and disgruntled cop, Randy Couture and a goodie two shoes FBI agent, Dolph Lundgren. Eddie’s character was one of the most fun roles I’ve ever played. He was the comic relief role in the film with his Scottish violent nature, from his Glasgow Kiss (head butting), to his dialogue. I really enjoyed Eddie as I got to show them in LA what Scottish mannerisms actually were. There’s a scene when he is in bed with two gorgeous girls (painful scene) with a Scottish flag draped above his bed, where he exits with red Scotland boxers on and a fur coat to talk about killing people. “Pure dead brilliant.” Although he had his dark side I hope I gave him enough likeability for the audience to like. (Thank you Gerry Butler for One Two in RocknRolla).
TJ: You’ve worked with Vinnie Jones in four films now, and with Dolph Lundgren in three films. Are you getting sick of the sight of them now? Seriously though, with films shot in a short space of time with recurring cast, is it difficult to keep your performances fresh?
GC: Who’s in this film? Dolph, Vinnie and I? Again? You having a laugh? I’m sure these lines were uttered. All joking aside, Vinnie Jones is one of my best friends, I love working with him, as it’s someone I know I can trust on set and also have a laugh with. As for the role, well, I went from a Glasgow gangster in LA surrounded by drugs and girls to the cookie cutter, squeaky clean “Hero” type American FBI agent back to a Scottish “Sons of Anarchy” style right hand man for our master Lundgren. So I was lucky as they were all quite diverse. To be honest, playing a bad guy is always more fun…
TJ: Which of your performances are you most proud of?
GC: Performance? Wait, thanks for thinking Eddie was a performance, and to think I was just being myself! Joking aside this is a very tricky question as I enjoyed who I was most in Hard Rush and A Certain Justice so I would guess I would have to go with either, however my character in Wicked Within was more dramatic. I’ll leave it up to you to tell me (no swear words please!).
TJ: Has producing helped give you a bit more career freedom? Perhaps the ability to have more creative control with your performances?
GC: I’ve always had a business side to me and I kind of miss that in the acting world so getting in on the producing side fed both appetites for me. Most actors, actually do both out here, from Mark Wahlberg to Jessica Alba, they all produce and act. As for career freedom, not really as I tend to have to stick to what the script requires. As for character creativity, I’ve been lucky thus far that the directors’ have always entrusted me in making my own decisions to make my character as interesting as possible and giving it an edge as much as I can. The directors are always the boss on set and I wouldn’t dare question what they are doing or their judgements. Giorgio Serafini, Hard Rush’s talented director, was an absolute gem to work with, he ended up doing Blood of Redemption and Certain Justice with “the action trio” (2 Brits and a Swede). Directors will always run the roost.
TJ: According to IMDB you are related to Peter Capaldi. Have you ever been a fan of Doctor Who, and if so, how do you think Peter will fare as the Doctor?
GC: So, yes according to my dad, our granddads were brothers, so cousins of some degree. I loved Doctor Who, I grew up with that show, and who couldn’t possibly love the Daleks! Peter Capaldi is such an amazing actor. Seriously though, I loved him in The Thick of It, he and Armando Iannucci (another genius who I hope is also reading this) seemed to be in such perfect synch with one another. Peter will now get the platform he has thoroughly worked so hard for, he is a true talent, and will do us all proud with how he will develop the Doctor. Watch out for him, he’s coming for all you Daleks! BBC, you had The Two Ronnies, now unite the two Capaldis!! (can we start that campaign Tom?)
TJ: I’ll see what I can do… Having acted and produced, do you have any future ambitions to sit in the director’s chair?
GC: The director’s chair? Those things are so uncomfortable, better off lying down in your trailer watching TV. Joking aside, for now, no. I am enjoying what I’m doing but who knows what tomorrow will bring. I was thinking delving more into film critiquing; let me know if you ever get tired of your job Tom. My aim, for now, is to keep my head down and keep putting in the work, and possibly one day work with someone like Guy Ritchie, who as a director, I seriously look up to. His shots are unique, style like no other, I also love how he takes every role in a film and makes them absolutely brilliant, perfectionist in his work.
TJ: Do you have a preference between playing good guys or bad guys?
GC: Bad guys always win, in the end, muahahahaha (stroking my white cat). As long as the bad guy has an adorable edge then you win both ways. Although I wouldn’t mind playing a good guy in something like, The Three Musketeers, or another caper style film where characters are completely outside the box.
TJ: What would be your desert island film?
GC: My desert island film would have to have me stranded with the likes of Scarlett Johansson (amazingly gorgeous and talented), Daniel Day-Lewis (the Leader of actors), Vinnie Jones (fun to have around), Megan Fox (just because she is the Fox), Gary Oldman (perfect villain) as well as someone like Gordon Ramsey (because on set catering is usually awful) and Kevin Bridges (for morale purposes only). I’m sure there could be a film derived with this cast?
TJ: I’d pay to see that…You played for Motherwell’s youth side. Was football your main ambition earlier in life? Do you still follow football, and if so, who do you support? Also, have you been in the US long enough to start committing the cardinal sin and calling it soccer?
GC: If I ever call it soccer, I would hang my head in shame. Yes I always wanted to play football as a child, played it every day but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I am an avid Glasgow Celtic fan. There are actually a few of us in LA, from Rod Stewart to Gerry Butler. I just attended the little Celtic haunt for the Champions League game last night. Hail Hail. Interesting note, in Hard Rush, we contacted Celtic Park to ask if we could drape a Celtic flag above my bed however due to the content of the scene they regrettably declined, hence the Scotland flag, the next best thing. I also had Celtic tattooed on my arm in A Certain Justice.
TJ: What have you got in the pipeline now?
GC: There’s a few things which will keep me busy later in the year, however until that ink has dried and they can’t wipe it off I dare not say. I will just say it’s action based, surprise, surprise!
TJ: Finally…Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Vinnie Jones are locked inside a steel cage. One man is left standing. Who?
GC: Do we remember Wimbledon’s crazy gang? Have to say Vinnie although Randy Couture would be a close second.
TJ: Thank you very much for your time.
GC: Thank you Tom it’s been a pleasure!