Cardiff born Luca Malacrino returned to his hometown to display a private screening of his latest feature film Elephants. The film tells the tale of two former lovers who drifted apart and their attempt to revive the relationship years later, the film looks to explore the trials and tribulations from an empathetic and pragmatic viewpoint.
We caught up with the leading man Luca, as well as the film’s writer/producer Alex Hanno, at Luca’s family restaurant, the acclaimed Giovanni’s…
Give us an intro to Elephants and all that it embodies?
Alex – “Fundamentally Elephants is a modern love story about a young couple. It’s really about the fact that they’ve been apart for three years, and then the story picks up where they reunite and kickstart the relationship. It focuses on the trajectory to rekindle the fire and love between them. There are a lot of ups and downs. It’s a real fiery relationship. It mirrors a real modern relationship, something people can relate to; that’s the most important thing for us to create, something relatable a ‘slice of life’.”
“The question comes down to nostalgia and is the past enough to propel us into the future and sustain the relationship or have they moved on? Luca and I had worked on a number of projects before this, so we had a good think about what we would like to do; we came together and thought about what we could do, and came to the conclusion that the theme was relationships.”
“Speaking for myself, and I think Luca, we were both at crossroads with our current relationships. So we evaluated this and realised there was a really relatable theme there that we could explore. Then we looked at the team. We had worked with some really talented people, so it was finding those who were keen to jump on this. Lots of the story came from me sitting down with the actors and sewing in their personal experiences, I just asked them about their relationships and their experiences, so I could inject these into the film.”
Luca – “I recently came out of a relationship, hindsight is a fantastic thing. For me, the point was to highlight the feelings and emotions, to let you go through the highs and lows. If people can go through the film and experience the catharsis and the emotions, then we’ve done our jobs as writers.”
So, you’ve moved over to America now, what was it like to come home and show everyone what you’ve been up to?
Luca – “It was a big decision leaving the nightclubs and the industry I was in. I really wanted to come home, firstly to show my hometown, family and friends what I’m doing and have achieved. I also wanted to show everyone I’m in a different world now I’m a trained actor, so it was really nice at the end of the night for people to see that switch, “you know we remember you as the club and business guy now I’ve seen you as an actor working with some talented directors and writers”. It was great to show all the people who’ve supported me over the years everything we’ve been working towards.”
“Everything’s been shown and filmed in America so it was great to have the home support and having the Q&A was great because that was something that people in Cardiff might not have attended or seen before. It was an incredible experience to share in the capital and my hometown. I used to go to Cineworld as a kid, usual spot of popcorn on dates so to come back was a moment I will never forget. It was amazing to bring my two worlds of LA and Cardiff together, I felt the energy and excitement in that.”
You’ve worked on a few different projects now so you must’ve come across some interesting people, what name drops have you got?
Luca – “I worked with Mr Francis Ford Coppola, who, growing up for me was a massive icon, wow! I loved Godfather 2, I probably shouldn’t have watched it at the age I did, but coming from an Italian family, it’s like the bible to us in a funny way. Working with him was amazing; the energy and passion that this god in the industry has is breathtaking. Food is a big part of his work, acting while eating was really different. He gave me some really great advice, not just in acting, but life advice that I will take to my grave.”
“Another icon I worked with is Paul Sevino on Criminal Minds. He’s a real character, one minute he can be really quiet, and still and then five minutes on, he can get the room up and singing. He has an amazing voice. When the mood’s down, he’ll revive it by belting out opera classics, inviting everyone to join in with him. He took me in under his wing. I played his son, so that was really nice when you’re away from home having that father figure is really nice.”
“I’ve had a few conversations with Mr David Beckham which was fun. He’s a great guy and really supportive. We talked about the move to LA, he had a lot of great advice on that.”
“Greys Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo, was amazing to work with as well. As a child, my mum demanded before we watch shows like Gladiator, we watch Greys Anatomy. At first, I wasn’t happy but secretly I enjoyed watching it. The acting and life advice I got again was something you just don’t get from school.”
What’s the ‘ten-year goal’?
Alex – “10 years in the future who’s to say what’s going to happen. Obviously, there are things I want to achieve and people I want to work with. There are so many fantastic people you would love to work with, like Jessica Chastain or Idris Elba. For me are they’re not just one-sided. You can put them in front of the camera and they give you everything. Luca is one of these multi-dimensional characters.”
“You look at iconic directors like Scorsese and Tarantino. They’re all very different but they consistently work with actors because they know they can take them to the depths that they will get the best out of them. That for me is the quality I want to work with.”
Luca – “For me, my 10-year plan is to continue taking on big roles and pushing myself, working with great people to push my boundaries.”
“The dream would be to produce two movies a year. There are so many topics and areas of life I’d love to explore. I’d love to continue with some of the network series that I’m doing now.”
“Not right now, but once I’ve achieved the calibre, I would like to, I’d really like to dabble in directing and that falls to the end of my ten-year plan. A big goal also is to put Wales on the map. My heritage is obviously Italian, but I was born in Wales, Cardiff Hospital. For me it’s trying to do my part to show the world Wales isn’t London, it isn’t England and it’s beautiful for all that it is.”
Alex – “One interesting thing that both of us have learnt is that this industry is very tumultuous. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, I just mean’s it’s crazy. All the forks in the road you go through. People always ask what do you write? The answer they’re usually looking for is comedy or drama. I don’t understand the divide, for me, it’s all about reliability. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a sci-fi piece which is relatable, as long as the characters are realistic and you can connect and empathise with the storyline.”
Luca – “A lot of people are talented but passion makes it. You work with people that have been doing it for 20-30 years and they’re still so passionate, that is the component that makes them icons, and that’s where I would like to be.”
2017 was a year of shock in the film industry and with the solidarity of this years’ Golden Globes, what’s your take on the Weinstein scandal?
Alex – “Since the beginning of Hollywood you’ve had people in power and abusing it, suppressing voices. 2017 was an amazing year for new voices, whether it’s ‘Get Out’ or ‘Ladybird’; these are all movies that may not have been made by the same directors 10 years ago. It’s really refreshing to see these films being made and really embraced.”
Luca – “Unfortunately, I think this has been going on for quite some time now, it’s very harmful to the arts world, but as we’ve seen this solidarity and force of change is amazing. I feel like there are some feathers that have been ruffled and people are speaking out more. It’s time for a positive change, hopefully, it carries on in the same direction. The abuse of power in this industry is really taking away some of the beauty and I really hope it continues to be eradicated.”
So you’ve ticked a screening in your home city off your list is there a potential to do some filming there too?
Luca – “The reason we came over here was first to give Alex a good understanding of Wales. When you’re in LA and all you have is Facebook and google images, there’s only so much you can explain about the spirit of Wales. I wanted him to experience it himself, so we took a nice road trip, and had meetings with some fantastic people in Wales.”
“It’s important to work with the talent behind the camera as well. You know you look at the amazing productions coming out of Wales at the moment and you can see there is a lot of talent. It’s the right time to do this. We’re going to go back now with the goal to set something up for the end of this year/beginning of next.”
So you’ve essentially acted as a tour guide with showing Alex and the team around Wales, what was this like?
Alex – “Not very many people in the US know much about Wales if anything. Having come here, that’s a real shame. There’s no real way to fully know a story without immersing yourself in the surroundings.”
“We began in Cardiff and did a sort of road trip around the country. We went as far west as Pembrokeshire then up to see Snowdonia and throughout the country. For me the highlights weren’t hard to find, geographically it’s a gorgeous country. It’s no surprise why Tolkien was so inspired to write Lord of The Rings. For me, the real highlight was just talking to people, Welsh people. They are really different, and, like the terrains, they are diverse. Welsh people are very kind and willing to share their knowledge and perspective, that’s been fascinating.”
Luca – “For me, it was really fun being a tour guide, I learnt a lot too! I grew up in Cardiff and I have been around Wales but not in this artistic mindset. It was very moving and inspiring. It made me appreciate coming home and being in Wales ten times more. The first thing we did was go to my dad’s restaurant they needed to experience some Giovanni’s food! The second place we visited was Nando’s, I’d been explaining it to the guys in the US so that was fun.
Alex – “Neither disappointed”
Luca – “We had a checklist of places we wanted to go to, but we wanted a more relaxed experience to enjoy, without an itinerary. I took Alex to a Cardiff City game Unfortunately they lost, but it was good to be back in the stands watching the mighty bluebirds.”
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