Roberto Benigni

Roberto Benigni

Oscar win for 'La Vita e BellaLife Is Beautiful' (1998)

Background:

Italian comedian Roberto Benigni gained international praise after doing magical
work as a director, storywriter and actor in the war comedy drama Life Is
Beautiful/La Vita e Bella (1997, starred as Guido Orefice), where his multiple
tasks garnered him numerous awards, including an Academy Award, four David di
Donatello Awards and four Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists’ Silver
Ribbons. Previously, the comedian already was a phenomenon in the movie industry
thanks to his award-winning roles in his self-directed and written Johnny
Stecchino (1991, took home an Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists’
Silver Ribbon), as the fun-loving Giuditta in Il Piccolo Diavolo (1988, won a
David di Donatello Award) and the eccentric, optimistic Roberto in the
English-language movie Down By Law (1986, netted an Italian National Syndicate
of Film Journalists’ Silver Ribbon). For his natural talent and commitment,
Benigni was also handed a Career Award from Mystfest in 1993 and the 2000
European Film Award for Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema.

Off camera, Benigni is also famous as an improvisatory poet who often recites
Dante’s Divina Commedia by memory. He is also a singer/songwriter who once made
some ironic versions of Paolo Conte’s songs. As for his personal life, he is the
husband of Italian actress Nicoletta Braschi.


Priest-To-Be

Childhood and Family:

On October 27, 1952, Roberto Benigni was born in Misericordia, Arezzo in
Tuscany, Italy. He is the last child of carpenter Luigi Benigni and fabric
inspector Isolina Benigni. He has three sisters: Bruna Benigni (born in 1945),
Albertina Benigni (born in 1947) and Anna Benigni (born in 1948). During
1943-1945, his father became a prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp in
Bergen-Belsen.

Little Roberto began loving stage acts at age 10 when his relatives took him to
an improvised song and poetry performance. However, he planned on being a priest
and enrolled in a seminary in Florence, Italy. After a flood damaged the school,
he decided to quit and study accounting in Prato, Italy. As a young teen,
Roberto also worked as a clown and magician’s assistant.
Roberto first met his wife, Italian actress Nicoletta Braschi (born on August
10, 1960), on the set of Tu Mi Turbi (1983). The couple eventually walked down
the aisle in December 1991. Nicoletta has appeared in a number of Roberto’s
films, including Johnny Stecchino (1991) and Life is Beautiful (1997).


Johnny Stecchino

Career:

Roberto Benigni’s knack for performing found a path after a director of an
experimental theater group noticed his stand-up performance on an improvised
satirical political speech in Tuscany. In 1971, he moved to Rome and the next
year, he made his first performance in Rome with the comedy “I Burosaui” (1972).

Five years after his comic stage performance in Rome, Benigni made a grand
entrance in the cinematic industry by co-writing the comedy Berlinguer, ti
Voglio Bene (1977), in which he also starred as Cioni Mario. Soon, he acquired
several significant roles, including Roberto in his self-written drama comedy
Chiedo asilo (1979), Benigni in the comedy Il Pap’occhio (1980) and Il Maestro
in Il Minestrone (1981).

The screenwriter of the concert film Tutto Benigni (1983), Benigni dug deeper
into his comic talent with a directing debut in his self-written Tu Mi Turbi
(1983, also played Benigno). He followed it up with directing work in L’Addio a
Enrico Berlinguer (1984), Non ci resta che piangere (1985, also starred as
teacher Saverio) and Coffee and Cigarettes (1986).

Also in 1986, Benigni burned his way into the world’s consciousness as the
eccentric, optimistic Roberto in his first English-language movie Down By Law.
Almost immediately, his portrayal won a Silver Ribbon for Best Actor from the
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. He also secured a David di
Donatello for Best Actor after cleverly delivering the role of fun-loving
Giuditta in Il Piccolo Diavolo (1988, also directed and wrote). Subsequent to
his turn in La Voce della Luna (1990), the comedian presented the title
character of a nice, but clumsy, dimwit who liked to steal bananas in the
Italian box office hit Johnny Stecchino (1991, also directed and co-wrote). As a
result, Benigni took home his second Italian National Syndicate of Film
Journalists’ Silver Ribbon for Best Actor. The simultaneous triumphs were ensued
by his starring turn as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli in the English-language film
Son of the Pink Panther (1993). Still in 1993, the actor was handed a Mystfest
for a Career award.

After his producing debut in Il Mostro (1994, also directed, co-wrote and
starred as Loris), Benigni made an astonishing detour to the war drama comedy
genre by co-writing the story, directing and starring as the Jewish Guido
Orefice, who tries to survive the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, in Life
Is Beautiful/La Vita e Bella (1997). The film became a ticket to many awards,
including an Oscar for Best Actor, four David di Donatellos and four Italian
National Syndicate of Film Journalists’ Silver Ribbons.

The talented comedian was also cast as Lucius Detritus (Tullius Destructivus) in
the silver screen adaptation of René Goscinny’s comics Astérix et Obélix contre
César (1999). After taking a three-year break, Benigni reappeared on screen with
his self-directed and written movie Pinocchio (2002), which unfortunately gave
him a Razzie for Worst Actor. He then wrote and hosted a special TV program,
L’Ultimo del paradiso (2002), before playing Roberto in the comic series of
short vignettes titled Coffee and Cigarettes (2003).

The recipient of the 2000 European Film for Outstanding European Achievement in
World Cinema, Benigni returned to the director’s chair in 2005 with his
self-written La Tigre e la neve (2005). In the drama comedy, he also had the
leading role of Italian poet Attilio de Giovanni who was trapped in the middle
of the American invasion in Iraq.


Awards:

Razzie: Worst Actor, Pinocchio, 2003
European Film: Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, 2000
American Comedy: Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture, La Vita E Bella/
Life Is Beautiful, 1999
Australian Film Institute: Best Foreign Film Award, Life Is Beautiful,
1999
British Academy: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, La Vita
E Bella, 1999
César: Best Foreign Film, Life Is Beautiful, 1999
Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Language Film, Life Is
Beautiful, 1999
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Best Foreign Film, Life Is
Beautiful, 1999
German Film: Best Foreign Film, Life Is Beautiful, 1999
Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Best Foreign Film, Life Is Beautiful,
1999
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award - Best Director, La Vita E
Bella, 1999
Lumiere de Paris: Best Foreign Film, La Vita E Bella / Life Is
Beautiful, 1999
Oscar: Best Actor, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
AFI Fest: Best Feature Film, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Athens International Film Festival: Audience Award, Life Is Beautiful,
1998
Cannes Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Jury, La Vita E Bella, 1998
David di Donatello: Scholars Jury David, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
David di Donatello Prize: Best Actor, La Vita E Bella / Life Is
Beautiful, 1998
David di Donatello Prize: Best Director, La Vita E Bella / Life Is
Beautiful, 1998
David di Donatello Prize: Best Screenplay, La Vita E Bella / Life Is
Beautiful, shared with Vincenzo Cerami, 1998
European Film Academy: Best Actor, La Vita E Bella / Life Is Beautiful,
1998
European Film Academy: Best Picture, La Vita E Bella / Life Is
Beautiful, 1998
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Critic’s Choice Award - Best
Actor, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Critic’s Choice Award - Best
Director, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Critic’s Choice Award - Best
Film, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Actor, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Director, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Original Story, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Screenplay, Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Montréal World Film Festival: People’s Choice Award, Life Is Beautiful,
1998
National Board of Review: Special Achievement in Filmmaking, La Vita E
Bella / Life Is Beautiful, 1998
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Language Film,
La Vita E Bella / Life Is Beautiful
Mystfest: Career Award, 1993
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Actor, Johnny Stecchino, 1992
David di Donatello: Best Actor, Il Piccolo Diavolo, 1989
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon - Best
Actor, Down By Law, 1987
My mother and my father went to the cinema for the first time when I made my first movie in 1978.More Roberto Benigni quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
The first movie I saw - and I don't know if it influenced me - was Ben Hur. We watched it outside in a corn field, and it ran backwards, so the first movie I ever saw was Ben Hur backwards.More Roberto Benigni quotes [05/04/2008 12:05:00]
I do not think the American peoples are idiots. They are a very playful and sensitive people! I know them!More Roberto Benigni quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I would like to thank my parents in Vergaio, a little village in Italy. They gave me the biggest gift: poverty.More Roberto Benigni quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
The first movie I saw - and I don't know if it influenced me - was 'Ben Hur'.More Roberto Benigni quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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