Giovanni Lombardo Radice is known for his roles in such classic Italian horror films such as “City of the Living Dead” & “Cannibal Ferox”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Johnny (as called by his friends) about how he actually dislike for horror genre and “Cannibal Ferox”, as well.
Mike Gencarelli: You have made quite a career in the horror genre, has that always been a favorite for you?
Giovanni Lombardo Radice: Not at all. As a cinema goer I stopped watching horror films with Dario Argento’s “Deep Red”. I get easily scared (and don’t like it), I do not like gore, blood, violence. Curiously enough as an actor, I have been in it up to my hair (when I had hair).
MG: What was it like starring in the film “Cannibal Ferox”? they do not make films like that anymore.
GLR: And I am very glad they don’t. “Cannibal Ferox”, in my opinion, is one of the greater pieces of shit ever made. Tasteless, useless, cruel and fascist. Making it was a nightmare (Lenzi + jungle is a fatal combination) and I am still deeply ashamed about being in it and I also think I was terrible in that movie: Over the top, bombastic and bleah!!!!
MG: How did you feel when you found out that it was “Banned in 31 Countries”, that is something really incredible?
GLR: I couldn’t care less. Sorry if it comes to a disappointment to you or others but I really HATE the thing. If it had been for me it could have been burned in Times Square.
MG: How was it working with the late Lucio Fulci in “City of the Living Dead”?
GLR: To me he was always very kind. He liked my acting and respected me. The atmosphere on set was edgy, because he was always shouting (at the production mainly) and work was quite hard. But all in the same, I have good memories. He surely had a bad temper and frequently mistreated people. He was very unhappy both for tragedies that had happened in his family and because he was unsatisfied about his career. Once I invited him to a party in my house. He went to the toilet and found out that whilst theatre posters were displayed in the living room, the horror movie posters were decorating the bathroom. He came back yelling “Hey, people, I’m in the loo!” Anyhow, he was a cultivated man and respected me for my family background and for my theatre credits. He was always very polite and friendly with me.
MG: Tell about playing your intense character in “City of the Living Dead”?
GLR: I liked the character of Bob and, as I always do, had most of all a physical training, working on the character’s body, his frailness, the slight twist on one shoulder.
MG: How do you feel Italian horror films differs from American horror films?
GLR: I haven’t seen many from either countries because, as I told you, I don’t like them. What can I say is that Italians are generally less technical and more inventive. They rely more on fantasy than on special effects.
MG: How can you reflect how your films resonate with new and old fans still through today?
GLR: It’s a mystery. I learned to accept with gratitude. It’s quite strange to be loved and at times idolized for something you don’t like yourself, but I think an actor must always be grateful to his audience for affection and esteem.
MG: Going on working on zombie horror films to “Gangs of New York”, how was that process for you?
GLR: As I told many a time, in “Gangs Of New York”, I have almost an extra role, which I accepted (against the opinion of my agent). I was paid as an actor and because I was very curious about the huge reconstruction they had made of 1860’s New York. As a matter of fact these characters in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” originally had lines, but they were cut before shooting because of the movie length. Anyway before zombies I had been on stage performing Shakespeare and others plays. I kept doing theatre all the way and being in a lot other stuff than horror film. Mainly period European miniseries, some of them really good.
MG: What are you favorite types of films to watch if not horror?
GLR: I like mysteries, ghost stories, thrillers. I could name “The Others”, “The Sixth Sense” and the recent “Hereafter”, which I thought a work of genius.
MG: Tell us what are you currently working on?
GLR: I recently made an independent movie in Texas called “The Infliction” by Matthan Harris. I translated and directed a Neil Simon play here in Italy called “The Dinner Party” and occasionally acted in it, sharing the role with another actor. I am now starting to translate “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, which will be staged next year.