«For Vanina I am the chief inspector, for my wife just a police officer»

«For Vanina I am the chief inspector, for my wife just a police officer»


Vanina – An assistant commissioner in Catania is the new TV series broadcast on Wednesdays in prime time on Canale 5. Based on the novels by Cristina Cassar Scalia has as its protagonist Giusy BuscemiVanina, and chief inspector Carmelo Spanò played by Claudio Castrogiovanni.

First it was Imma Tataranni. Then came Lolita Lobosco. Finally Vanina Guarrasi: all from the South, all three taken from literary works. Is this the revenge of women?

«I don’t think there is a need for women to take revenge. As for Vanina, I got to know her character through the author of the novels and Buscemi who have an important strength, solidity and centering in her. Fighting in these times is essential to awaken the consciences of those who may be a little more asleep, of course. But what I find interesting in these three TV series is that they highlight the prejudice that each of us has regarding the “passivity” of women who work for justice: the character of Vanina is written in a very solid way in the books and is played equally solidly in the TV series.”

So it’s the revenge of the South: the first is from Matera, the second from Naples and Vanina from Catania…

«The true revenge of the South is the one that sees it told not only for crime stories, but also for other things. Both Tataranni, Lobosco and Vanina represent the typical colors of the places they come from and this, in my opinion, is the fundamental thing: as a Sicilian, I would focus more on this aspect than the criminal one.”

You practically play at home, having been born in Catania…

«Not only at home, in most cases because I was born there although everyone thinks I’m from Messina because I lived there for many years. I have relatives in Catania and I spent a good chunk of summer life between Catania and Syracuse. Practically, with Vanina I rediscovered the city at the age of 55, shooting various scenes, from the historic center to Etna, from the villages to the mountains, constantly eating wonderful rubbish that the city churns out non-stop. Put like that, it almost seems like she hasn’t worked…”.

Was there a place you went to as a child where you ended up shooting some scenes?

«There were some scenes shot on what is the plaia, 8 kilometers of beach starting from the port which is overlooked by a sequence of beaches. In one of these, my parents met in the 1960s when there was a fervent recreational and cultural activity in those very places. Those scenes made me remember mum and dad’s stories.”

I have a doubt: should I call you chief inspector Carmelo Spanò or lawyer Castrogiovanni?

«The lawyer Castrogiovanni belongs to a lifetime ago: I graduated in ’94, I qualified about two years later, in ’96. In the meantime I had started in Messina in “Jesus Christ Superstar” directed by Piparo. In reality, I only worked as a lawyer in the two compulsory years of practice after graduating, even though my deep desire before discovering that I wanted to be an actor was to be a magistrate: I was also studying to take part in the judiciary competition” .

So I ask chief inspector Spanò: who is he?

«The role of chief inspector is an incredible one. I was given a great chance: at Christmas I even received a message from an unknown number complimenting me. I discovered that the author of the novels had sent it after watching the episodes. He is a character who has my same sense of protection towards those around me, my precision – perhaps even excessive accuracy – in everything I do and a bit of disenchanted irony. He then has a hidden aspect that he only reveals to Vanina regarding the fact that his wife has left him and he, like many, lives according to his work.”

In the series Spanò shares insomnia with Vanina. In reality you share a winery with your wife: do you behave with her as you do with Vanina?

“Absolutely not. My wife actually runs the winery. With her I learned to take a step back.”

So you’re the officer and your wife is the chief inspector?

«Surely you are the chief inspector. It is her family’s business and it happened very often that I was just “Flaminia’s husband”. I’m just the second level officer to pass the paperwork to.”

You have always played roles that have to do with justice, perhaps because that desire to be a magistrate will have remained with you. In “Circeo” she was Angelo Rizzo’s lawyer, in “The silence of water” she was inspector Dino Marinelli, in “Maltese”, commissioner Gianni Peralta. It seems like that “I would like but I can’t”…

«Maybe yes, now that you make me think about it, you could be right: I’m sublimating this desire for justice that I had at 20 now that I’m 55. When Falcone and Borsellino died I was 25 and those events happened to a Sicilian they shook the heart and conscience. They are part of one of those lines of demarcation that remain engraved inside and resonate for a long time, perhaps forever. It could be a way to give substance to this need for justice in the world, in life, which unfortunately, however, sees me increasingly defeated.”

Let’s lighten things up: being an actor is more comfortable, in the good sense, than being a magistrate. It is done more lightly…

“Absolutely yes. I would never dare to confront those in the field or even simply with the ordinary judiciary. I am a very good friend of Alfonso Sabella (the magistrate who was deputy prosecutor of Gian Marco Caselli’s Palermo anti-mafia pool, ed.) who is a person I admire in a heroic way. He constantly experiences first-hand what he suffered during the periods in which he had to hide and the unfair consequences that presented themselves to him because of his actions respecting the codes of law.”

A question to the lawyer “converted” to art: theater, cinema or TV, which one do you choose?

«I have had a passion for cinema since I was little. My grandmother took me there 2 or 3 times a week and I think I realized this great love when I saw Zeffirelli’s “Hamlet” with Mel Gibson. But I also love the theatre, the first one that welcomed me and made me understand that I could also live another life. At the moment, doing theater in Italy is unfortunately more complex than when I started, crossing the length and breadth of Italy to stage around 150 shows a year.”

Many musicals…

«Yes, many musicals. Then I also did comedies and prose. It’s difficult to reconcile theater with television and cinema: either you only do theater or there isn’t any. I love making films and television. Therefore, we put cinema in first place and theater and TV in second place with equal merit.”

A role that he would absolutely like to play at the cost of his life on television, at the cinema and in the theater. Any role.

«I had the fortune and the opportunity to shoot a film called “Glass Beach” directed by Will Geiger. It is a story set on the Strait of Messina in which the protagonist is a fisherman who experiences a tragedy greater than what a human body can bear and does so by facing life on a boat with which he hunts swordfish together with a child, the son of a woman of African origins who occupied his father’s house. In short, it’s a story that when I read it I said: ‘This is the character I always wanted to play’.”

A theatrical character?

«I read a text that was recently sent to me by a contemporary author which is very interesting; it’s called “The Wolf” and we would like to stage it directed by Francesco Giuffrè. However, I would like to do a show with a group of actors always working on contemporary texts.”

If you talk to me about a group of actors, the collective “Voci nel Deserto” comes to mind, of which you are a member and which moves between theatre, cinema and music. Passion for theater or “damage” to the sense of justice he suffers from?

«The “Voices in the Desert” operation was born in Marco Melloni’s head and when he gave birth to it we were more or less living together. He is a great author, a writer and a screenwriter while I had never written. “Voices” is an operation that has the strength of social theater which is what I would like to be able to do in a sensible and concrete way. It starts from the assumption of using the “Voices” of those who had already predicted years and years ago what is actually happening today and is being reported in the newspapers. We recite the piece in the theater or in other spaces and only at the end do we reveal who the author is: sometimes it happens that we discover that Herodotus spoke about immigration, for example. With Marco as the author I made a show, “Mistero Buffet”, on the idiosyncrasy of Italian at the buffet: for an hour and a quarter I was on stage acting while I cooked a carbonara which I then served in the form of a buffet to the public in the room ».

I don’t dare ask how your coexistence ended…

«We remained an “open couple”…».

So far he has told us that he has a wife who is a chief inspector at a winery, a “consensual separation” with an author and that he knows how to cook carbonara. Tell us the last secret and off we go.

“Actually, I have no secrets.”

They all say that.

“It’s true, I’m a very outspoken person.”

Don’t be asked…

«One day, I would like to direct a short film: well, I’ve never revealed this to anyone. Verbalize.”

In which would you play the magistrate, the policeman, the lawyer or the criminal?

«Absolutely not, I wouldn’t be on stage. Verbalize this as well.”



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