No Italian-American actor loves returning to Italy to work in local films more than John Turturro. He played Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi in the late Francesco Rosi’s 1997 feature The Truce. Turturro frequently collaborates with director-cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo, who directed the actor in this year’s Tempo instabile con probabili schiarite and also shot the actor’s directorials Fading Gigolo and his Naples music doc Passione. Turturro holds dual citizenship in U.S. and Italy and at some point would like to mount an Italian co-production of Souls of Naples, Eduardo De Filippo’s 1946 sentimental comedy, in which he starred off-Broadway in 2005.
Turturro met Nanni Moretti in 1992 when he was invited by the Italian director to bring his feature directorial debut Mac to Rome for a cinema retrospective that Moretti curated. The two kept in touch over the years, with Turturro nearly booking a role in Moretti’s We Have A Pope. Mia Madre arrives on the Croisette 14 years after Moretti took home the Palme d’Or for The Son’s Room. The dramedy follows a female film director who is trying to make a movie amid chaos and craziness in her life. One of her main headaches is the egotistical big-name actor Barry Huggins, played hysterically by Turturro. He’s a guy, Turturro says, who is “someone I recognize. … There are people who are great actors or good actors and they fall apart because their life is a mess, and they’re not ready to do something. I’ve seen all kinds of extreme behavior in my business.”