All the Money in the World's Giuseppe Bonifati on shooting in Rome and working with hero Ridley Scott
The Italian actor worked with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, and reshot scenes with Christopher Plummer after Kevin Spacey's replacement in the true story
If you aren't already familiar with Italian actor Giuseppe Bonifati, his breakthrough role in Ridley Scott's Golden Globe nominated All the Money in the World is set to make him a familiar face. The actor, director and poet – who lives between Denmark and Hungary with his performance artist partner Linda Sugataghy – plays lawyer Giovanni Iacovoni in the movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams.
Based on John Pearson's book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty, David Scarpa's scorching screenplay follows the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) by a Mafia organisation – and the subsequent legal fight faced by his desperate mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince Getty III's billionaire grandfather, oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), to pay the ransom.
The film's release has been dominated by news of reshoots, after Scott dropped Kevin Spacey – originally starring as Getty Snr – from the film in the wake of sexual harassment allegations levelled against him in November. Veteran actor Christopher Plummer stepped in to reshoot scenes, a decision which has seen widespread acclaim for the cast and crew's quick turnaround despite the expense.
Here, Bonifati exclusively tells Tempus about working with the great director, filming on location in Rome and London, and the film's difficult relationship between love and money.
Giuseppe, tell us about your new film, All the Money in the World?
The film examines the true story of the kidnapping and death of John Paul Getty III, which took place in Italy in the seventies. The boy was locked in a cave for five months by the Mafia while his grandfather, J. Paul Getty, refused to pay the ransom. The screenplay is fantastic – written by David Scarpa – and directed by the great Ridley Scott. >>
The film combines the worlds of family, business and crime in such a complex way, what was that like as an actor?
Yes, but I think also there is an imbalance of emotions and feelings, and business and money. It’s astonishing how money can control your mind and life, in this case. There is certainly an imbalance in all this, where it comes to family, society and politics.
Tell us about your experience on set? Were you already a fan of Ridley Scott?
It was a fantastic experience. My role was interesting because I worked a lot with Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton and Kevin Spacey – and then Christopher Plummer in the reshoots. It was interesting to see how he played the role after stepping in. I felt really pampered, really loved during all the shoot. As a director, Ridley makes you feel so comfortable even if it’s your first time acting among these stars. He creates a comfort zone around you, so I think it has a lot to do with empathy and the human side. Of course I was a fan, I knew him from Blade Runner to The Martian, almost all his movies, so this was very special.
It must have been interesting for you to work with Ridley, as you’re also a director yourself.
I’m mostly director of theatre – I do video projects but of course being a part of a film on this scale is such a different kind of work. Seeing Ridley and the assistant directors in action, you really do learn something from them. I learnt a lot from Michelle and Mark as well, as an actor but also in terms of how to direct actors. They would give me suggestions – or even from how they worked with silences to displace each other. It was really interesting. >>
Do you find there’s a difference in how you approach theatre compared to how you approach acting in a film or even your multimedia work?
As an actor in a movie like this, I let myself completely be modelled by Ridley, I’m completely available to his wishes. The work I do myself as a creator or director is more about me taking complete control of everything. Acting's great because you let yourself go for one day or more to not think too much - to be there, to be present and react to the directions of the master.
What was it like filming on location in Rome?
Filming in June and July too! I don’t live so much in Italy anymore, I mostly live in Denmark and Hungary, where my partner Linda is from, so it was really fun to go back to Italy. For me, Rome is like a postcard city, a city for tourists, but I cannot live there anymore. As a tourist it’s fantastic. But my favourite city to visit is Budapest – hopefully my next job will take me there.
You also filmed in London.
We did, we were in the Savoy Hotel, which has this amazing elevator – the oldest lift in London, I think – I remember Mark and I trying to squeeze into the tiny armchair in the lift on my last day of shooting. We barely fit, it was very funny. It's a beautiful hotel.
All the Money in the World is released in UK cinemas on 5 January 2018