Manuel Antonio Gullotta is an Italian actor and director from Milan, Italy.
He has starred in several award-winning projects, such as The Rise of The Villains, a web series inspired by DC Comics, which has also aired on television, and has been featured and screened in several comic-cons around the world and Italy. The Rise of The Villains is recognized all over the world, Manuel is receiving a big amount of awards for his portrayal of James Gordon and for other roles that we will discover during this interview.
Manuel, thanks for being here today, tell us a little about yourself.
M- Thank you! I come from Milan, I was born on April 14, 1990, so I'm almost 33 years old. I studied as a tourist services technician, so far from my passion.
When did you discover that this was your career path?
M- If I have to remember the exact moment, probably with Godzilla the 1998 film. I understood that I wanted to be part of such a project. I also love when people relate to the emotions that I try to portray through my performance and when they understand them, it's the best feeling in the world for me.
Which directors inspired you and why?
M- Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi and John Carpenter. Steven Spielberg has basically shaped part of my childhood, Sam Raimi has a great sense of horror style and John Carpenter is able to involve the viewer in his stories in a unique way.
Briefly describe your project:
M- I starred in a web-series called The Rise of The Villains, is inspired by the DC comics about Batman and his villains, this time it is seen from the dark side, so we have a deeper explanation of the villains' backstories and the audience can easily understand why they have come to the point of being the villains. We started pre-production in 2014, shot it in 2015 and the last episode aired in April 2022, a bittersweet goodbye.
What was the biggest challenge for you?
M- Probably don't laugh on set, everyone says mine are "dad jokes", they're probably right. I also played two different characters: James Gordon, serious, diligent, with a strong sense of justice, and The Scarecrow, the exact opposite of Gordon, silly, chaotic and clumsy, but terrifying at the same time. I love people's reactions when they read the credits and find out that I'm behind that mask too. I guess they both have a part of my personality so they are very dear to me.
Who would you recommend this web series to and why?
M- Definitely people who love comics, superheroes, and my fellow geeks! I'm all of those and that's what made me want to be a part of this project. I noticed that even people who are far from this world enjoyed the series, especially the interactions between the characters, the development of their relationships and friendships. I also hope people appreciate our hard work and love for the project and the world of comics.
A fun fact about The Rise of The Villains.
M- To be honest, I think that besides keeping a straight face, as mentioned before, I discovered my biggest weakness: dubbing. In episode #1 we shot in an abandoned asylum and it was very windy, part of my lines got messed up and so I had to dub myself, I really can't keep the same tone I originally had on set. It's not into me and it felt unnatural. This part is actually included backstage from the first chapter and I die laughing every time I watch it.
What's the best part of your job, what's your favorite step in the process?
M-The best part is feeling comfortable with my character. I'm not a confident person in real life, so pretending I am is a great feeling. The best part though is reading people's comments on social media or under our YouTube episodes. In the United States there is Comic-Con, in Milan. where I'm from, we have Games Week (apart from Lucca Comics) and I was walking around the stands of the fair, when a guy approached me and asked me for a photo, he asked "Are you James Gordon?", the my heart sank in my chest and i almost cried. It was incredibly beautiful and I never thought I would ever experience something like this in my life.
It is certainly a great satisfaction! When it comes to casting, how is it for you?
M-For this project, in particular, a great friend of mine, Federica Alice Carlino, director of the project, believed in me, and now I have many beautiful memories to keep forever. I usually tend to use my directorial brain to figure out what they might be looking for and do my best to show what I have to offer.
How is it going with the festivals so far?
M- Incredibly good! We have received many awards and I am very proud of them. We took part in some amazing events like Geek Fest and Azure Lorica. We also had several panels where they did interviews, called live Q&A with an audience and their questions were so passionate that we felt an interest in our series.
What other project of yours would you like to suggest?
M- I worked on a tribute film on La Casa de Papel called El Último Adiós (@elultimoadios_short) and I'm very proud of this other project too! It has given me so much satisfaction as receiving a videomessage from Fernando Cayo aka Luis Tamayo, which was the character I was assigned to. He sent his congratulations to all the cast and crew and told me I did a great job and it made my day,
You've also recently won several Best Actor awards and been nominated as many times, how does it feel to be recognized for your performance?
M- It's a wonderful feeling, because there's someone out there who can appreciate the hard work behind my characters, behind the project and the teamwork, all on a technical as well as an emotional level. Winning for James Gordon and Luis Tamayo for two different projects,The Rise of The Villains e El Último Adiós it's really something I didn't expect.
I feel so grateful, because this made me realize that not only am I doing what I love, but that I'm doing it well.
What would you say to someone who wants to start this journey as you did? What do you regret and what do you wish you knew sooner? Have you learned anything?
M- Remember to focus on your goal. Keep doing 100% and never underestimate your project. Many movies started with zero expectations and today are literally cult hits, so never say never, one day you could become a future legend.
I don't regret much, maybe just working with the wrong people in the past, I didn't give me all because I didn't get it. Find someone who believes in you and treats you like a human being, always. But it shapes you and you learn from your mistakes. I would say what I have learned is that not all people work with the same energy and it is quite difficult to work with.
What is your dream project? Both as a filmmaker and as an actor,
M- My dream project is to work on something about my favorite video games or comics, I'm a big fan of this genre and I want to stay on this path.
I love inserting details and clues in my videos, like Easter Eggs for example.
I made a short film about a creepypasta because I love this kind of subject, but now after all these years, I see all the wrong choices I made technically, from the script to the scenes.. But I keep them in my heart, they felt like the right thing to do at that time. I was going to do another project during the COVID, based on the video game "The Last of Us", but unfortunately I had to cancel it due to crew issues. I believed in that project, but I hope to be able to take it back one day.
These are great achievements and I am confident I will be hearing from you soon.
Good luck in your career and your projects, it was a pleasure talking to you.
M- Likewise, thank you so much, and to all the people who support the film industry and people like me who try their best!
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