Milan-born, England-raised actress Greta Scacchi made a name for herself on
television as the ruined Tsarina Alexandra, opposite Alan Rickman and Ian
McKellen, in the Uli Edel-directed drama Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny
(1996). Her impressive performance was critically applauded, and Scacchi was
handed an Emmy Award. The international movie lead Scacchi first gained
attention for her portrayal of a strong-willed grandmother in James Ivory’s Heat
and Dust (1982). She received even more appreciation playing roles in such films
as Dusan Makaveyev’s The Coca-Cola Kid (1985), the Taviani Brothers’ Good
Morning, Babylon (1987), Michael Radford’s White Mischief (1987), Alan J.
Pakula’s Presumed Innocent (1990), Michael Blakemore’s adaptation Country Life
(1994), The Browning Version (1994) and Jefferson in Paris (1995). In 1992, the
British performer became famous after playing the starring role of June
Gudmundsdottir in Robert Altman’s The Player. On stage, Scacchi scored a hit
with her outstanding performance in Harold Pinter’s “Old Times,” where she
nabbed a 2004 Italian Theater Award.
Fans can also watch her in the recent and upcoming Kevin Spacey’s Beyond the Sea
(2004), Flightplan (2005) with Jodie Foster and The Book of Revelation (2006).
Scacchi is also scheduled to play roles in the made for television movie Marple:
By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006) and the miniseries “Broken Trai” (2006).
Off screen, the light-haired beauty currently resides near Brighton in Sussex in
England, with her husband Carlo Mantegazza and her two children, daughter Leila
George D’Onofrio (born in 1992, father Vincent D’Onofrio) and son Matteo
Mantegazza (born in 1998, father Carlo Mantegazza).
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Luca Scacchi Gracco, an Italian painter, and Pamela Carsinga, a
teacher of English descent, Greta Gracco was born on February 18, 1960, in
Milan, Italy. Following her parents’ separation, her mother remarried and raised
3-years-old Greta in England. At age 15, Greta moved again, this time to
Australia to accompany her stepfather, Giovanni Carsinga, who accepted a
teaching job in the country. There, good-looking Greta worked simultaneously as
a cowgirl and as an Italian translator, while also taking side jobs as a fashion
model, and attended the University of Western Australia. Three years later, she
returned to England to study drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Greta was married to actor Vincent D’Onofrio in 1991, but they divorced two
years later. The two met while in the production of 1991’s Fires Within. Greta
and D’Onofrio have a daughter named Leila George D’Onofrio (born in March 1992).
She was later remarried, to her first cousin, the Italy-born Carlo Mantegazza,
with whom Greta shares a son named Matteo Mantegazza (born in 1998).
A former Australian fashion model, Greta Scacchi was spotted by German filmmaker
Dominik Graf shortly after graduation from the England’s Bristol Old Vic
Theatre. The director soon cast her in the 1982’s The Second Face (aka Zweite
Gesicht, Das), for which she learned to speak German to portray Anna. After the
film debut, Scacchi thrilled audiences and critics alike when she was teamed
with director James Ivory for the flashback sequence of Merchant-Ivory
Production, Heat and Dust (1983), playing the spirited grandmother Olivia.
Next up, Scacchi switched into television and made her TV film debut in The
Ebony Tower (1984), playing one of two nubile young women living with an aged
artist (Laurence Olivier) named Diana. She portrayed Anna Cheri in the
miniseries before taking one of Garbo’s signature roles, playing the consumptive
Marguerite Gauthier in a TV-film remake of Camille (1984). Scacchi returned to
filmmaking in 1985 as Nina Beckman in Defense of the Realm.
However, it was Dusan Makaveyev’s The Coca-Cola Kid (1985) that garnered Scacchi
attention for her memorable role as daffy secretary Terri. She won extra
acclaimed in the Taviani Brothers’ Good Morning, Babylon (1987) and in Michael
Radford’s White Mischief (1987). For her tour de force appearance in the latter,
Scacchi even made American sit up and take notice on her.
Despite stereotyped as a two-dimensional femme fatale, Scacchi started playing
leading roles in movies as varied as the high-profile Alan J. Pakula’s Presumed
Innocent (1990) with Harrison Ford, Gillian Armstrong’s Fires Within (1991),
Shattered (1991) for Wolfgang Petersen and the Australian-production Turtle
Beach (1992) directed by Stephen Wallace.
The actress got a much-needed critical boost when Robert Altman cast her in the
starring role of June Gudmundsdottir in the comedy-thriller The Player (1992),
also starring Tim Robbins. She went on to shine as Deborah Voysey in Michael
Blakemore’s adaptation Country Life (1994), Laura Crocker-Harris in Mike Figgis’
The Browning Version (1994) with opposite Albert Finney and Maria Cosway in
Merchant-Ivory’s Jefferson in Paris (1995), and segued to Douglas McGrath’s
adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma (1996).
In 1996, Scacchi obtained even more recognition when she was cast as the domed
Tsarina Alexandra in the made-for-television movie Rasputin: Dark Servant of
Destiny. For her brilliant performance, she took home an Emmy for Best
Supporting Actress. The HBO drama film by Uli Edel also starred Alan Rickman and
The following years saw roles in The Serpent’s Kiss (1997), NBC film The Odyssey
(1997), Love and Rage (1998), Macbeth (1998, TV), Francois Girard’s The Red
Violin (1998), Ladies Room (1999), The Manor (1999), Tom’s Midnight Garden
(1999), the Merchant-Ivory production of Cotton Mary (1999) for director Ismail
Merchant, Looking for Alibrandi (2000), One of the Hollywood Ten (2000), Henry
Jaglom’s Festival in Cannes (2001), Daniel Deronda (2002, TV), Jeffrey Archer:
The Truth (2002), Ronzio delle mosche, Il (2003), Baltic Storm (2003) and
Roberto Ando’s Strange Crime (2004), an Italian-French co-production starring
Back to Hollywood cinema, Scacchi picked up the supporting role of Mary Duvan in
the Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea (2004) written by, directed by and
starring Kevin Spacey, opposite Kate Bosworth and John Goodman, and was featured
as a therapist in the Jodie Foster vehicle Flightplan (2005). Meanwhile Scacchi
has stayed active in theatre. In early 2004, she was seen on stage performing in
Harold Pinter’s “Old Times” on tour in Italy completely in Italian, in which she
was handed a 2004 Italian Theatre for Best Actress in a Play. Two years before,
she starred in England’s production of “The True Life History of Mata Hari.”
Recently, the 46-year-old actress starred in the Australian film The Book of
Revelation (2006), and will soon work on the small screen with the upcoming film
Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006) and the miniseries “Broken Trai”
Italian Theater: Best Actress in a play, “Old Times,” 2004
Emmy: Best Supporting Actress, Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, 1996