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Pasquale Esposito stars in new ITV period drama ‘Hotel Portofino’

Italian actor and director Pasquale Esposito had his international breakthrough with crime drama ‘Gomorrah’. Since then he’s worked on high-profile productions including the upcoming ‘Hotel Portofino’, set on the Italian Riviera between the wars – Pasquale appears alongside stars Natasha McElhone and Anna Chancellor. Pasquale also appeared in the BBC TV show ‘Industry’, and ‘Ripley’, an American psychological thriller series based on ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and starring Andrew Scott. Pasquale tells us about the dark fascist history explored in ‘Hotel Portofino’, how Italian TV shows are getting international acclaim, and why playing poker helps his acting. 

How did you find the experience of filming ‘Hotel Portofino’?

“The experience was a blast. The location created the right context for the beautiful relationship between cast and crew – it was a pleasure to go on set and give my best each day. It was great, both personally and artistically.”

Tell us a bit about your character, Vincenzo Danioni?

“The story takes place in Portofino, Italy, in 1920, when Mussolini was in power. Vincenzo Danioni is the city ​​councilor of Portofino – he is a fascist and, like many fascists at that time, he is using his power to get things for himself. He is a dark character, hard and rude, often to cover up his own pain. As a fascist, he creates problems for the British people who are managing the hotel, in particular Bella, who’s the lead in the story, played by the beautiful Natascha McElhone.”

How did you prepare for the role?

“I don’t really have a standard way to approach a character; each time is different. it depends on the character, it depends on the story and the place in which the story unfolds – and it depends on what’s happening in that moment in my life. I love to approach the character and tell the story in a new way each time. This character is a fascist and a corrupt man, so of course I researched what that meant historically and I got a clear vision of what life would be like based on that kind of ideology. I also researched the card game poker, to explore how to read as much as possible about others – their facial expressions and behavior – while not letting anybody read anything on my face. This was so interesting to me. I really enjoyed playing Danioni; in the next season it  will become more obvious what’s behind his desire for power.”

What have been your favorite film and TV projects to date?

“I was proud to be in the TV show ‘Gomorrah’, a Sky production that was on HBO Max. The series has been distributed in 190 countries, proving that there’s global interest in Italian content. It is Italy’s top TV export and the biggest debut of all time on Sky’s Italian platform. I had my international breakthrough with this show. The whole experience was like being part of a team, like the racing car team of Ferrari! Everyone on set was working at their best individually, and yet they were also offering their best for the team. I never heard anybody complaining about anything; we were committed to getting the best outcome possible. It was a great experience, just to be part of it.”

What upcoming projects can we see you in? 

“I loved acting in the TV show ‘Ripley’, based on Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and directed by Steven Zaillian, who is also the writer. Steven won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for his screenplay of ‘Schindler’s List’ and he’s an amazing director. Andrew Scott is starring as Tom Ripley, and I really enjoyed working with him. Just a few weeks ago I got the news that ‘Ripley’ is going to be on Netflix, which is great.”

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