Its 2:15 pm
Welcome to “8 Questions with…..”
Have you ever watched the news,hear a crazy ass story and think to yourself “I’m so glad that wasn’t me” and then realize that it does concern you? For our next guest,Ottavio Taddei,he found himself right smack dab in a story that made national headlines and he wasn’t even there when it happened. Imagine coming back from a well deserved vacation only to see news vans and reporters swarming your house and you. As a working actor,normally you would welcome a chance to be interviewed,right? Sadly for Ottavio,this story was not one he wanted nor welcomed
Ottavio handled himself with dignity and class during this most difficult of times.
But Ottavio has overcome some bumps during his time in Hollywood, and he is still working very hard to reach his goals. He has a role on one of the biggest films of the year,”Ford v Ferrari” coming out and hopefully that will be a springboard for this young multi-talented artist to get noticed,this time for all the RIGHT reasons.
Ottavio is one of the coolest,intelligent and sensitive artists I have chatted with and I hope he gets the break he deserves. I really hope it happens for him…
But for now,let’s go and ask acto/dancer Ottavio Taddei his 8 Questions….
Please introduce yourself and tell about your latest project.
Hi! My name is Ottavio Taddei I’m an Italian actor and dancer based in LA. I can’t complain for lack of excitement in my life thanks to the array of experiences that come my way.
I’m looking forward to the releasing of the new James Mangold movie “Ford V Ferrari” with Matt Damon and Christian Bale to mention a few , happening on November 15th, were I had the honor and pleasure to portray a supporting character with a quite interesting contribution to the story development of the movie.
Most recently I finished filming an independent feature film called “His Only Son” that narrates the story of Abraham, struggling with the extreme sacrifice God has demanded, the sacrifice of his son Isaac. It Was a wonderful experience to be filming in nature accompanied by a loyal donkey ( Philberth) and working around horses, goats etc.
I’m thrilled to be filming in September a brilliant short film with the working title “Apollo Jump” written and directed by Matteo Saradini.
I just had a dance show with a very talented group of dancers at the bar Harvard and Stone in Hollywood that was quite a new experiences.
I’m also often collaborating with LA OPERA and LA PHILHARMONIC as a dancer and actor, I performed the lead role in “Bolero” directed and choreographed by Kitty McNamee with the whole LA Phil orchestra to myself!
I’ll be soon involved in the new staging of the opera “Bohéme”, likely my favorite one. Several other project on the way but always hungry for more!
What was growing up in Italy like? Is it true that Italian food is the best ever created?
Italy is, and this is indisputable, the best country in the world! In such a small piece of land we have the richest artistic heritage and an impressive variety of sceneries and biodiversity. It is unfortunately challenging to be a young ambitious individual in a society that still follow obsolete dynamics, such as rewarding seniority more than productivity and a limited social mobility with the tendency to professionally follow the footsteps of our parents. Of course I can’t avoid mentioning the burden of decades of bad politics and corruption with the consequential high debt that make the country vulnerable to financial crisis and excessive fiscal pressure etc.
Now, talking about food, we do have pretty amazing food and the secret is simple: simplicity and produce quality.
Internationally Italian cuisine offers a wide range of options but the truth is that you really need to be in the authentic place of origin of a certain dish to really have the “experience”.
I’m from Bologna for instance and the way you’ll eat a lasagna or tortellini there has no equals. You want to eat authentic risotto at its best? Then you’ll have to be in the Milano’s Area.
Pizza? We have different schools but yeah Naples and surroundings will provide a very special and unique experience and so on.
I can tell you from my personal experience that in Puglia I bought peppers from a farm and I was in absolutely shock and awe to experience a “Pepper” for the first time, that was certainly not what I could find at the supermarket! I love other cuisines too but, yeah, we can keep our head high!
Where did the love of dance come from?
I grew up with two older brothers and I just followed their example, I played tennis, basketball and soccer growing up,( skiing, running and other activities too) that was the example I had, what I knew… I wish I had the chance to approach ballet earlier, my body was already developed and there’s only so much you can do when you live in an adult body but hard work and dedication definitely allow major improvements!
Around 16, I started practicing Kung fu and the different use of the body required by this discipline intrigued me, I developed a desire to expand the limits of my body, gain flexibility, freedom and be more body aware, at that time one of my best female friends strongly insisted to get me involved in their end of the year dance show and I ended up accepting and started practicing etc. from there I never stopped dancing, it’s simply part of me, who I am and I hope it will always be.
What three things about dance do you love the most?
I’ve never been a super organized individual, dancing can be compared to a religion, it requires a lot of discipline and focus and it gave me a great growth opportunity.
I love to stay connected with my body, I think that if you experience that deeper connection you’ll never want to give it up. Latins were wise: mens sana in corpore sano.
Well I can’t avoid mentioning the gratification of pleasing an audience and the special bond that you develop with your dance partners.
What is the biggest difference between a “street dancer” and a “classically trained dancer”?
Well, technique exist pretty much in anything, technique is simply a way to achieve a certain result in my opinion. Let’s say that street dancing allows a higher degree of freedom of expression, is more dynamic, open to contamination, ballet has been coded for a long time and applied to the idea of a “perfect body” ( at least for that type of movement) and therefore there is a more defined standard of what it “should be” more then What it “should look like” and so on.
In Italy among artists we use a saying: impara l’arte e mettila da parte. It means: learn the craft and then put it aside. You can apply this piece of wisdom in pretty much most art forms.
From visual artists like Picasso that from mastering classical technique evolved his art into something unique and personal, or opera trained singers incorporating that quality in other genres or Shakespearean actors mastering the language to an extent that allows them to deliver powerful speeches in contemporary theatre and film.
What has been the worst injury you suffered as a dancer?
Fortunately nothing major, I had a chronic bursitis in my right ankle, therefore constant inflammation and pain for several years and not much to do to fix it, you can’t really take long breaks since you gotta eat somehow… When you dance as a career you must learn to work in adverse conditions it’s inevitable, like most professional athletes.
Dance taught at a young age can cause a lot of injuries so it’s really important to find very competent instructors that understand the different body types and didn’t learn technique only on books!
What did you enjoy the most about college experience?
College was for me the real transition into manhood, I went to Bocconi university that holds a pretty impressive reputation worldwide and all my fellow students were very determined and studious reversing certain high school dynamics were the best students were often considered not so fun to be around.
In university I experienced the opposite, if you weren’t serious about it you were substantially isolated. So I learned to use my brain and be more conscientious and I’m grateful for that!
What led you to try your hand at acting? Did anyone encourage you or had you always wanted to try it?
As an dancer I worked for operas, musicals, hybrid shows in contact with all sort of performers, I always loved acting but we can’t really handle everything at the same time can we?
For some reason I was always encouraged by directors and choreographers to embrace more interpretation heavy roles and the desire to explore acting grew in me quickly.
I believe in education and I wanted to study the “art of acting” before dealing with real challenges in that field and so when I had to stop dancing for a couple of months due to some health issues I did take the chance and flew to NYC to audition for an acting school that was recommended to me by established and super talented documentarist and filmmakers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini , I got admitted at my first shot and went to graduating from the Stella Adler studio of acting conservatory in NYC and I did a little bit of theatre in high school but really minimal.
How long have you been in the United States? What were the three biggest culture shocks to you?
I’ve been in the USA for 7 years already between school and career, I always lived in international cities like NYC and LA and I wouldn’t claim any major cultural shock, what is mostly scary is the amount of social rage this country is going through that associated with the free circulation of weapons has led to a terrifying amount of mass shooting. This is definitely the worst possible shock, to see how many people are not appreciative toward the gift of life.
Another shock is to see how dynamic certain cities are, LA has changed so much in these past few years while Bologna, the city were I was born is pretty much identical to what it used to be many decades ago.
It’s also shocking to see how many people here have given up on being part of the society, that in my view is a lack of self love, in Los Angeles the homeless crisis is real and I’m sure some people might have incurred in personal tragedy that led to that condition but many others feel abandoned and they’d rather get that basic welfarism to survive than trying to stand back up.
What was your first acting role and how did you get it?
My first acting role once I finished school was probably a supporting role in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Los Angeles. I really wanted a role with more responsibilities but I definitely learned by spending many days in the company of more mature actors.
What was it like working on “Ford v Ferrari”? What did you learn/take away from the experience?
I was very excited for the opportunity and a little scared! I learned that the bigger the set, more people you have around, the more alone you are and that is scary though empowering!
They count on the fact that you are there because you know how to do your job, of course, you can still have some communication with the director, the camera operator, DP etc. But it’s less personal, at least for supporting roles.
For instance we were on a time crunch filming with natural light and there was a bit of tension on set, while shooting with a steady cam I had to remain in the frame while moving to a designated position and you can’t really look at the camera position or you might end up accidentally looking into the lens, so you have to simply feel it on you somehow.
Where did you study acting at? What is your style of acting?
I received most of my training at Stella Adler Studio Of Acting in NYC, since I was coming with a certain movement background I wasn’t necessarily too enthusiastic about following a generalized program but I did have the pleasure to study acting technique with some wonderful teachers.
I then took several workshops and classes in LA but of course after training in a “safe place” ( a place where you are meant to fail) you learn the most once you start dealing with real jobs.
I do not follow a specific approach all the time, sometimes you just have to accomplish a task and to overthinking it is simple unreasonable to me. Some other times you have to work on developing a back story, to define clear intentions and needs that your character wants to achieve.
I try to have several tools ready in my toolbox and pick the right one based on the situation and the character’s demands.
Self-tape auditions vs. live auditions – which do you perfer and why?
Self tapes allow you to send in an audition that you believe to be representative of the quality of your work, you can watch it and reshoot it as many times as you want friends and fellow actors permitting.
On the other side a live audition is somehow fairer since everybody will work with the same reader, same light, same camera etc. Two different processes.. auditioning is often stressful but can also be satisfying.
I had good and not so good experiences with both types of auditions, sometimes you are good at working the room sometimes not so much.
What scares you?
To miss out an opportunity, I’ve been living in LA for several years now and I still have very limited access to the casting rooms that handle high quality productions.
I’m also scared to not see my life settle down after living here for so many years. I’m still on a visa and it does make me feel vulnerable to have to request new visas over and over again and have work limitations and no voice to contribute to the growth and well being of the people of this great country.
What do you like to do for recreation and relaxation when you’re not working?
To be honest I have the privilege to do what I love, hence it’s difficult to draw a line between work and leisure… what I’ve been trying to do is to be more social and meet people, I do a ton of physical activity, I’ve started to practice boxing and I love to learn new disciplines and skills.
The cheetah and I flying in to watch you perform but we are a day early and now you are stuck playing tour guide,what are we doing?
Let’s say we are in Rome, in the “centro”, the old town, (because unfortunately the outskirt of the city is not as charming) I would honestly send you to a totally random walk and let the city surprise you.
That is how I visited for the first time and every few minutes I found myself in front of some magnificent piece of architecture, statue, fountain and monuments like nowhere else.
Then for sure I’d have to take you to Saint Peter Cathedral, the Vatican museum where you must see the Sistine Chapel, no matter how many pictures of it you might have seen to be there is just magical and to imagine the dedication and talent of the master Michelangelo painting horizontally the ceiling for years is indescribable.
Of course some good typical restaurant can’t be avoided! So many other places would be worth mentioning but it’d take way too long!!
I like to thank Ottavio for sitting down and doing this interview with us. We’ll be looking him this fall when “Ford v Ferrari” hits the big screens. You can follow Ottavio as he continues to perform both in front of live audiences as well as in front of the camera.
He is an artist to keep an eye on….
You can follow Ottavio on his growing InstaGram page.
You can also follow Ottavio via his IMDb page.
If you feel you have a story wish to share,feel free to send me a email which you can find on my contact page.
Comments and feedback are always welcome.