The best Italian actor (Toni Servillo) you don't know — yet

Jun 22, 2013 2097

by Michael Phillips

When the Italians say "cinema," it sounds better than when the Americans say it. CHEE-nay-ma. Doesn't that sound better?

Born in 1959 and widely considered to be his nation's greatest stage and screen actor, Toni Servillo is seven hours ahead of us in Chicago, Skyping from his kitchen at home in Caserta, in the Campania region of southern Italy. Caserta is near Naples, the location of Servillo's creative home, Teatri Uniti, which he co-founded in 1987. Early in the interview he sneaks in a two-second pantomime routine, the international "Can I borrow a cigarette?" fingers-to-lips gesture, silently communicating with his unseen wife. Such a simple bit, but it's a thrill to see it handled by a masterly actor. 

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