Actor David Ottolenghi: «Gino Bramieri taught me to be kind to everyone». The character? “I’m proud of the pissed-off motorist, but you can’t live on a stroke of genius alone.” The family: “My wife is 25 years younger than me: we are extremely reserved”
Let’s start with David Ottolenghi. Who is it?
“On the identity card it says actor.”
Yes, but man?
«It comes to mind when as a child I used to walk through the gardens of via Palestro in Milan with my grandfather Maurizio. We took great walks and fed dry bread to the swans. He was already over 70 years old and every now and then he would tell me something I didn’t understand: “Inside I feel like I did when I was thirteen”. Well, I feel like I did then, I haven’t changed much: I have remained introverted, confident in the world despite everything, even if I always want to see the glass as half empty ».
What son was that?
“My parents disappeared three years ago, almost together: my mother left on April 2nd, my father on April 22nd. They got married on April 11th. I have often thought about that coincidence: 22 divided by 2 is eleven. When they leave, your parents leave an unbridgeable hole. The others tell you “you will see, they will talk to you, you will find them …”. Bales. Then one day you realize that it has them inside, and before you couldn’t find them because you were looking for them outside. From there they will never leave. You remain a child forever ».
What did he take from them?
«From my father Vittorio, a lawyer, the great love for reasoning, for the art of oratory, for integrity: he was a lawyer. From my mother Roberta, a housewife, a good dose of fragility, which to define sensitivity seems reductive to me. And the love of literature. He was able to read the same book three times: the first to see how it was going to end, the second to grasp what he was missing, the third to enjoy it ».
What father are you?
“It’s terribly crumbly ground. I have an older daughter, Marta, who is 35 years old and three children: Sara of 10, Giulia of 6 and Alessandro of 4. And then I had two other children by my second wife, Mara: Maurizio and Massimo, of 5 and three years. “.
Have you noticed any differences in your way of being a father after a long time?
«I have a very strong and complex bond with Marta, which is still very much tied up. It means that we look for each other a lot and we don’t always understand each other. It is a living relationship. I’ve always been with her. But the phrase that is said to separated parents that quality matters more than the quantity of time together is consoling. In reality, presence has its own decisive weight. In any case, I have never been the father-friend ».
And with the little ones?
“Having two children of this age is now an enormous pleasure. I see all the beautiful things I have already experienced with the greatest: discovery, growth, storytelling, fantasy. With them the sun rises new every day ».
He succeeded in the feat, now miraculous, of never leaking a photo with his wife.
«Mara is a company consultant and we are reserved. When my success exploded and I moved to Rome for work, they immediately told me: if you want to get paparazzi, you have to go to those bathrooms there in Fregene or to these four restaurants in Rome. Here, never frequented. Neither then nor today. “
Is it possible that no one stops her for a selfie?
“I must admit that they are all very respectful of my private space.”
In an interview with Maria Latella years ago he declared himself very favorable to the sixty-year-olds who were with the twenty-year-olds. Autobiographical response?
He laughs. «Mara is 41 years old, I have just turned 66, we have been married since 2012. We happened to fall in love. There are mature men who stay with younger women and younger women who, at their own risk, stay with older men. We have chosen ourselves ».
And it is now that we change the protagonist of the questions, after a generous trustworthy appetizer in his Milanese studio in the Loreto area, with show posters hanging on the walls, of the very young Diderot who stripped naked on stage for The Libertine, of that sweet and profound novel that it is When this is all over, where he told the story of his family persecuted by racial laws.
Who is Gioele Dix?
«He was born in 1986, to go to the Zelig, on the ashes of an actor with high hopes who had already been to the Derby, he had had important experiences with the company of the Teatro degli Eguali, the Teatro dell’Elfo, Salines. But before I was thirty I had stopped. I started with the commedia dell’arte: one evening an actor got sick and they called me to replace him. I was trained, as a storyteller: to my friend Renzo, who is no longer here, I told the stories about his companions at Carducci, while I was at Parini ».
How did you choose your stage name?
«Joel to pay homage to the biblical world that belongs to me. I liked the idea of the prophet, that of the locusts. At the time it was not widely used, so much so that years later they interviewed me because there had been a significant increase in children with my name. It still happens to me that parents come into the dressing room and proudly show their little Gioelini ».
“Because everyone at school was crippling my surname, Ottolenghi. Then one day a drawing teacher started calling me “Ottodix”, after the German painter whose artistic and political commitment I appreciated ».
The turning point comes with the «pissed off motorist». Don’t you mind that everyone still asks you for that character?
“No, on the contrary. Creating him was my rebirth: he is my son. I was a prose actor who, by definition, can also work in an empty theater. Indeed, if I noticed someone sleeping at the bottom, Ottavia Piccolo reassured me: “Some are already asleep when the curtain opens, here in the front row, only you never look at them”. In short, I saw that those who came from the cabaret had a more aggressive relationship with the public, they managed to involve it. So I worked on this new character, from an intuition as I drove: it was me, and it could be anyone. From there came the TVs: Odeon, Rai 2 and Maurizio Costanzo. From 86 to 88 I went from anonymity to fame. So, to return to your question, I’m proud of that character. Of course, you can’t just live on a stroke of genius. But it still happens to me that maybe after doing Molière someone comes to the theater to ask me for the photo with sunglasses. I satisfy him: I learned from Gino Bramieri to be extremely helpful with everyone. He also told jokes if they were asked for them. ‘
Alberto Tomba is another of his workhorses. How did he take it?
«In the beginning not good: he complained because he didn’t use the word” gnocca “. Then I went to see him at his house for the latest episode of Never say Gol, on the Bolognese hills, and on the asphalt near the entrance I found written in white paint: “Viva la gnocca”. Then I protested: “But how?”. And he (and here imitates him perfectly, ed): “Bravo, they wrote it after you said it, not before!” ».
If I ask you to choose a play?
«The imaginary patient, directed by Andrée Ruth Shammah. I was lucky enough to play him at a very young age in the role of Cleante, alongside the great Franco Parenti who played Argan. I put on their shoes, then, in 2015, and it was a good moment. I stole a lot from Parenti, I spied on him: his character does a throw-in job, from the baseline; he could be silent for fifteen minutes and then with just two jokes he got the applause. This also happens to me and I’m happy about it. We will bring it back to Parenti in September, to celebrate the theater’s 50th anniversary ».
Who were his teachers?
«We have just mentioned one, Franco Parenti, who taught me to be very concentrated and to act even with my thoughts. “Words alone are not enough,” he said. Then Sergio Fantoni, to whom I owe the rigor and the lesson that theater is other than reality. And finally Antonio Salines: from him I learned to play on stage, to be cheeky and to control the movement of the hands. “I’ll cut them!” He thundered ».
The most difficult audience?
«That of the children, with whom I trained a lot as a young man: it is a moment to lose their attention. But their applause is also the most beautiful, because it is an uproar, it is rain falling on the roof ».
How did you experience these two years of lockdown?
“Bad. At first it was reasonable to think that the theaters should remain closed, then no. However, we worked a lot in the summer. Between May and June I managed to recover all the dates that had been canceled in Friuli ».
The strangest gift in the dressing room?
“Nothing comes to mind, but I can tell you about a particular episode. I was doing a show on the Bible at Parenti. The final applause arrives, then from the dark I see a walking rose approaching and an ex-girlfriend of mine was holding that rose. She had come down from the seats higher up, had approached me with the rose and said only: “You are always magical”. Then it went away. Never seen again ».
The most exciting moment of a show?
«When the lights go out and an employee opens the curtain: the darkness that precedes the beginning is like a birth. And a thousand thoughts go through your head: I can’t wait to start, who made me do it, I had to eat something, thank goodness I didn’t eat anything … ».
What are you working on now?
«The next show at the theater will be The race behind the wind, which is the title of one of the Sixty stories by Dino Buzzati. He is the author I have reread the most in my life. I was able to cultivate a beautiful friendship with Almerina, the widow, and with her daughter, Zelda: they were introduced to me by your journalist Lorenzo Viganò, who knows everything about Buzzati. When Audible asked the family to make audiobooks, they wanted me. And now I celebrate it, fifty years after death ».
January 11, 2022 (change January 11, 2022 | 23:47)
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