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Rocco Papaleo, unthinkable confession: “I’m on the left. But Meloni…”

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Rocco Papaleo, unthinkable confession: “I’m on the left. But Meloni…”
Written by aquitodovale

Anna Maria Piacentini

Self Rocco Papaleo if it didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. We meet the actor and director at the Vertical Visions Festival in Potenza. In recent years Papaleo has managed to make films loved by the public and professionals such as Basilicata Coast to Coast. Perhaps because shooting a feature film is like taking a journey without a map, where there is no return lane. It just takes courage. In addition there is the mechanism of comedy, where the characters he plays are exactly like him: reserved, brilliant and honest. In this interview he has many surprises in store for us, where he confesses plans, a new film to be released and a great consensus for the Prime Minister.

Papaleo, your esteem for Giorgia Meloni intrigues me: but wasn’t she a leftist?
«Yes, I don’t deny anything, but despite being on the left, I have to admit that Meloni is a very brilliant and intelligent politician. You have the ability to bring your ideas forward ».

So, applaud the right? But “allow me”, just to be on the subject, is your interest sincere?
“Yes, right now we have to give an extra point to the right, the left didn’t make it”.

And then women… today they are winning in many sectors. Agree?
“They are my religion in every sense. I confess that I have always been a cockerel… a Lucan cockerel! But I’ve always respected women. At all ages they know how to take our hearts. And then, with little “helps” even the “ugly” become beautiful again. But it is their intelligence and wisdom that impresses me the most. They have come to get very important roles and I think they deserve it ».

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But they work twice as hard as men and earn half… Does that seem right to you?
«It happens, but you will see that things will change, women are really good. I like listening to them, I’ve always done everything possible for them, even when I directed a film».

Speaking of films, what do you have in the works?
«Here I presented the documentary iron paths, by Luca Curto of which I am the protagonist. In the month of March the film Scordato (in the musical sense) will be released where I have the leading role and Potenza as director. With me there will be the singer Giorgia, who will be a real surprise for the audience. The film is very nice and poetic and is set in Basilicata».

His land, right?
«Yes, I’ve always loved her, but when I was very young I had to leave, I had to continue my studies at the university, because she wasn’t here then.
Once in Rome I wanted to be a mathematician, instead I went to acting school. But I have no regrets.”

It all began with Leonardo Pieraccioni in The Graduates. How did you know him?
«The director Giovanni Veronesi had seen me at the theater and spoke to him in a positive way, so Pieraccioni wanted to meet me. For me it was a great emotion, Leonardo greeted me with sympathy and shortly after gave me the screenplay of the film saying: “Go home, read it and then decide. I know you have other commitments”».

Instead?
«Honestly, I had little to decide: I had no other options. And I liked the character. I was proud of it. So I immediately told him…
I accept! It was my luck and for this I also have to thank Giovanna Mezzogiorno who has always believed in me ».

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Excuse me, but weren’t you initially supposed to make a short film as a director with the producer Cecchi Gori?
“That’s true, but who told him that?”

Professional secret. Instead, tell me how the story ended…
«Unfortunately Vittorio, who was highly esteemed by everyone, had the “delicacy” of failing in that very period and I was left on the ground».

Let’s hope that better days can come back for Cecchi Gori. Three Oscars won are the best guarantee. Agree?
“Absolutely yes”.

Meanwhile, she too is a bit missing from the big screen, what happened? Disappointment, tiredness?
“I took a sabbatical, I needed it. I hadn’t gone on holiday for years, I hadn’t seen the sea… So in the tranquility of a decidedly serene place I wrote a book».

What amuses you? Or do you just like cinema?
«I enjoy playing and singing live at friends’ houses. My favorite song is Via con me by Paolo Conte. He finds her very beautiful and I’m good at it. Music is the common thread that has always connected my life made up of cinema and music».

It is from Lagonegro, a quiet and romantic place. For an actor who has made it into cinema, what remains of those childhood places?
«The desire to rediscover lost emotions. My dream is to return to my land (but in a few years) not to build a villa with a swimming pool, but to create a small vegetable garden and spend hours cultivating it while breathing in those scents that cannot be found in other places». But he has a house in Maratea in the pipeline: true or false? «It’s all true, but I’m doing it for my son’s future. A son whom I love and who loves me».

Meanwhile, a large film school (Experimental Center of Mediterranean Arts) will be launched in Potenza, directed by Marcello Foti, former director of the Experimental Center of Cinema in Rome. Among those present, rumors are already two big names: she and Giancarlo Giannini. During the masterclasses, what will you recommend to your students who are studying cinema?
“Courage and dedication. I had to leave, but today they have one more hope. This school will be a great opportunity, they must continue to believe in it as I do because the passion for cinema has no age”.

What if he goes back?
“I’d do it all over again. Even today I look inside myself and wonder what my talent is, how I managed to get here on my own».

Apart from the applause of the audience, what is the answer?
«I was 37 when I made The Graduates and I am still loved by the public, but there are always doubts. And they are vital. They help you grow, to dream of a better world, to tell what you really want to live».

Before closing, a curiosity: is it true that you always eat pasta with butter?
«Look, it will seem strange to you, but even in Rome I choose this dish and I assure you that I am very healthy. I adapt, even if it’s not my case, out of solidarity with those many Italians who always go blank… thanks to the expenses and everything that revolves around our country. A country that in any case loves and defends itself».

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