SERGIO CASTELLITTO (King Miraz) has been called “one of the most popular Italian actors for international audiences since the heady days of Mastroianni and Gassman.” In addition to his lengthy acting career encompassing work in films, television and on the Italian stage, Castellitto is also a noted writer-director, with his most recent directorial achievement, “Donit Moveî” (“Don’t Move,” in which he starred opposite Penelope Cruz), triumphing as one of Italy’s biggest critical and commercial successes of 2004.
Castellitto and Cruz won Italy’s David di Donatello honors for their respective leading performances, with the film (based on the Strega winning and bestselling novel by his wife, the acclaimed italian writer Margaret Mazzantini) earning nine other nominations, including Best Film and writing and director nods for Castellitto. The film was also showcased in 2004 as part of a retrospective of the actor-director’s work by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Born in Rome, Castellitto graduated from the Silvio D'Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art in 1978. He began his theatrical career in Italian public theater with Shakespeare's “Measure for Measureî” at the Teatro di Roma and with roles in other plays such as "La Madre” by Brecht, “Merchant of Venice” and “Candelaio” by Giordano Bruno. He next starred at the Teatro di Genova in the roles of Tuzenbach in Chekhov's “Three Sisters” and Jean in Strindberg's “Miss Julie,” both under the direction of Otomar Krejka. Over the ensuing years, he also starred in such theatrical productions as "L'Infelicita Senza Desideri" and “Piccoli Equivoci” at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, as well as "Barefoot in the Park" by Neil Simon and “Zorro", a monologue written for him by his wife, Margaret Mazzantini. He also directed her in her own original comedy, "Manola.”
While contnuing a successful career on the stage, the actor made his film debut in 1982 alongside Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli and Anouk Aimée in “L’Armata ritorna” (“The General of the Dead Army”), directed by Luciano Tovoli, then followed the next year with Stefania Sandrelli in the feature “Il Momento magico” (“Magic Moments”).
He continued working in the Italian cinema with some of the industry’s finest young auteur directors such as Marco Colli (“Giovanni Senzapensieri”) and Felice Farina (“Sembra Morto Ma E’ Solo Svenutoi”), for which Castellitto also served as the subject and screenwriter. In 1986, he co-starred with Vittorio Gassman and Fanny Ardant in Ettore Scola’s epic saga, “La Famiglia” (“The Family”), which earned an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Film and won five David di Donatello awards, including Best Film.
He next reunited with actress Fanny Ardant in Margarethe von Trotta’s “Paura e amore” (“Love and Fear”), then co-starred alongside Jean Reno and Rosanna Arquette in Luc Besson’s acclaimed drama “Le Grand Bleu”(“The Big Blue”), which earned a Cesar nomination as Best Film. He won his very first David di Donatello prize (as Best Supporting Actor) for his role alongside Gian Maria Volonte in “Tre colonne in cronaca.”
As a new decade approached, Castellitto graduated to leading roles in the film adaptation of Claudio Bigagli’s play “Piccoli Equivoci” (reprising his stage role of Paolo), “La Carne” (“The Flesh”), Mario Monicelli’s “Rossini! Rossini!,” Giuseppe Tornatore’s “L’Uomo delle stelle” (“The Star Maker,” a Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee in 1996, for which he won the Nastro d'Argento Critics Award) and Francesca Archibugi’s “Il Grande Cocomero” (“The Great Pumpkin”), winning his second David di Donatello award and first as Best Actor. As the 1990s grew to a close, the actor turned his talents to directing his first feature, “Libero Burro,” also co-writing the screenplay with his wife, Margaret Mazzantini, his co-star in the film. The production earned Best Film honors from the Los Angeles Italian Film Awards.
In addition to his busy career in Italy, Castellitto spent much time in Paris, where his popularity soared in such films as "Alberto Express" and "Ne Quittez Pas" by Arthur Joffe, Laetitia Masson’s "A'Vendre" and "Le Cri De La Soie" by Yvon Marciano.
In 2001, he reteamed with director Ettore Scola in his acclaimed drama, “Concorrenza sleale” (“Unfair Competition”), then gained international acclaim as Ugo, the artistic director of an Italian theatre troupe visiting Paris, in Jacques Rivette's “Va savoir.” He next starred as the temporamental chef in the acclaimed international comedy “Bella Martha” (“Mostly Martha,” Best Actor -- European Film Award), then triumphed again in the bittersweet Italian comedy “Caterina va in città” (“Caterina in the Big City, winning his second Nastro d'Argento Critics Award). He earned another Donatello nomination (his third) for Marco Bellocchio’s award-winning drama “L’Ora di religione” (“My Mother’s Smile”). He most recently reunited with Bellocchio in “Il registra dei matrimoni” (“The Wedding Director”), and also starred in the Italian drama “La Stella che non c'E” (“The Missing Star”), directed by Gianni Amelio, and provided one of the voices for the French version of “Arthur and the Invisibles.” He is the only italian actor to star in the French homage to Paris, "Paris Je T'Aime,” in an episode directed by Isabel Coixet.
His television work includes the miniseries "Cinema" with Alain Delon, the great Italian biopics "Don Milani-Il Priore di Barbiana", "il Grande Fausto" (the life of Fausto Coppi), "Padre Pio" and "Enzo Ferrari" (the latter two directed by Carlo Carlei), "Victoire ou la vie des femmes" directed by Nadine Trintignant, and two projects he also co-wrote -- “Il Commissario Maigret : L'ombra cinese” and “Il commissario Maigret: La trappola di Maigret,” both starring Margherita Buy. His most recent TV project was "O'Professore," written by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia, director Maurizio Zaccaro.
In addition to co-writing a new film with wife Margaret Mazzantini (which he will also direct), Castellitto will also return to the theatre to direct John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning play "Doubt.”