Stemming from an intense desire to foster creativity and remarkable dramatic representation, actor Tino Orsini’s career has featured portrayals of numerous compelling and intense characters. Born in 1970 in Capua, Campania, Italy, Orsini’s passion for acting took root at an early age, when he was featured in various school plays and later trained at The Stella Adler Conservatory and Drama Studio London.
Orsini made his film debut as Walter Gannet in the critically-acclaimed mockumentary The Making Of… And God Spoke, directed by Arthur Borman. He has also delivered strong performances in films such as the 2014 romantic comedy Mum, Dad, Meet Sam and the post-apocalyptic drama After the World Ended, directed by Tony Sebastian Ukpo.
In addition to his film work, Orsini has appeared in a number of off-West End shows, having received favorable reviews for roles such as that of Dionysus in “The Frogs” (Theatro Technis), Polonius in “Hamlet” (Barons Court Theatre), V in “Project Lolita” at The Vault Festival, Baptista in “The Taming of the Shrew” (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival), Michael in “The Blind Bet” (Hen and Chickens Theatre) and, most recently, “Under the Blue Sky” (Drayton Arms Theatre).
To learn more about Orsini and his work, visit him online at tinoorsini.co.uk.
What was your childhood like? What moments or events had the biggest impact upon who you are as an adult?
I’ve always believed the first ten years of your life is the time that shapes you as an adult. I grew up in the province of Naples, Italy with my mother, sister and granddad. My father was away for most of the time, working with his brother overseas. I had a pretty contented childhood and had a big imagination. I was very close to my aunt Milina and would spend a lot of the time with her, as she lived nearby. When we moved to England eventually, I didn’t want to leave my relatives and friends behind and life as I knew it was never the same again. I began a new chapter of my life.
What made you realize that you wanted to be an actor?
I’d always dreamed of being in front of an audience and entertaining them. I used to watch a lot of television, particularly American shows that would be dubbed into Italian. I would look at the actors in these shows and wonder how would I be able to be in their shoes one day. Once I started auditioning for school plays, I knew then that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
What was your favorite television show when you were a child?
I used to love American sitcoms like Happy Days.
Have you always been comfortable on stage and performing in front of others, or was that a skill that you had to work at?
I never really thought I could become an actor.
As a child, I used to write a lot, i.e. books and songs, but I started acting in school plays and I just felt an instant connection in telling an audience a story and living in someone else’s shoes, as it were.
How did the opportunity to star in The Making of… And God Spoke come about?
I moved to Los Angeles when I graduated from high school and eventually signed with an agent out there, which led to me auditioning for it. It was my first major film role and I played a writer adapting the bible to a screenplay!
How do you generally go about getting into character for a role? Is your approach different for a film than it would be for a play?
I don’t really have a “method.” I studied with the prestigious Stella Adler Conservatory and have always continued honing my craft by continuing acting classes and I use the techniques I have learnt, but the bottom line for me is I try to be truthful and be a part of a story in an engaging way and try to learn something about myself in the process; that’s always more interesting than “creating a character.”
Who have been your most important acting mentors or role models, and what did you learn from them?
My mentors are Sally Marr, mother to stand-up legend Lenny Bruce, who taught me that networking and having fun is important in this business, and Arthur Mendoza, my teacher at The Stella Adler Conservatory, who inspired me to take risks in my acting and not be afraid to make mistakes.
How have you grown as an actor over the years?
An actor, like everyone else, grows and evolves over time. I used to think if I got “that job,” it would be the making of me, but I have learnt that being an actor is just like being in any other profession; sometimes “that job” goes to someone else and even though it feels like the end of the world, the right role for you will show up if you persevere and challenge yourself. With hard work and dedication, I have been lucky to work with some fantastic directors and actors that I continue to learn from on so many levels.
What’s the best film you’ve seen as of late?
Of recent releases, there have been a few films that have stood out for me: Birdman, Boyhood and The Great Beauty by fellow “Neapolitan” Paolo Sorrentino.
What’s the best meal you’ve had recently?
I always have great meals at my family restaurant Orsini in South Kensington, and my mother is a wonderful cook.
Italians take their food very seriously!
If you could offer one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
Work hard and have fun!
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I’m crowdfunding for a production of “Filumena” by Eduardo De Filippo, a dialectical comedy in English which I will be directing later this year here in London. I’m also hosting a new podcast, “The Tino Orsini Show,” which will feature theatre and film reviews, interviews with actors, directors, authors and other creatives and will be lots of fun!