Taking time out from his whistle-stop tour of Wales, new Hollywood sensation Luca Malacrino chatted exclusively to us and dished about all things Hollywood and Wales.
While he eagerly scouts Welsh locations for movies that are in the pipeline under his own production company The Chameleon Effect, he tells us all about life across the pond, and what’s coming up.
Luca, now 26, has established himself across the pond after relocating to the USA five years ago to undertake his dream of acting in movies and TV. Moving from home is a terrifying adjustment for most twenty-somethings, but Luca knew, like many others, the power of the bright Los Angeles lights.
The actor explained his breakthrough, telling me: “I got into acting on a whim and through advice from a friend”, and it’s obvious that humility is one of his natural traits.
“I trained with the actor’s workshop in Cardiff and met Rebecca Hardy there.”
Luca speaks warmly of Rebecca and it’s obvious to me that she has been pivotal in his success. As the associate director of screen at the Actor’s Workshop, Rebecca has won many prestigious awards including the BBC Newcomer Award.
It was after this experience that Luca gained a scholarship at AMDA Los Angeles (American Musical and Dramatic Academy), which is one of America’s oldest and most established school for the arts.
Since then, he has gone on to work with celebrated director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, in case you didn’t know), Goodfellas actor Paul Sorvino, and has even appeared in award-winning US drama Grey’s Anatomy and crime series Criminal Minds.
In Criminal Minds, which will also stars Goodfellas actor Paul Sorvino and The Sopranos actress Aida Turturro, Gianluca plays the role of Onario Alighieri, a young, disturbed Italian man who has been recently released from prison.
He has also been accepted into BAFTA after being recognised by the Academy’s Newcomers Programme which supports UK actors who have moved to LA to pursue film acting.
“Working with Coppola was a dream achieved. After attending an audition, Coppola called me back the next day, simply because he wanted to know more about me and talk about food and Italian life.”
It is clear to see the profound effect this experience has had on Luca, although he remains totally humble throughout our chat.
Of course, Luca (Gianluca to be exact) does not sound like the stereotypical Welsh name.
In fact Luca’s father, Giovanna, is full Italian. He explains: “I am fluent in Italian as I went to live in Italy when I was 8 or 9.”
It’s clear that he considers Wales a crucial part of his identity, saying: “I was born in St David’s Hospital, Cardiff and I have always celebrated St David’s Day.”
“I used to support Italy in football as a kid, but as I grew up I shifted my support back home. I 100% support Wales now in both rugby and football and my goal is to get out there and show the world Wales’ potential on a global stage.”
While Luca has based himself in the upmarket area of Los Angeles named Sherman Oaks, he’s keen to celebrate his roots. “I went to a Stereophonics concert in LA recently and to see a mass of Welsh Flags from the Welsh and Americans with Welsh heritage was truly amazing.”
He explains, “Another important part of being a Welshman living in Los Angeles is to help raise awareness of our country and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”
Working life in LA is far away from his earlier profession as a nightclub owner in St Mary Street after founding the Ladybird and Kapu nightclubs in Cardiff city centre. While Wales’ bustling nightlife scene may be a distant memory, Luca has made himself at home with the glitterati of Hollywood.
“My favorite hangout in LA is the Soho House in West Hollywood, I go there quite often”. For those unfamiliar, Soho House is known as a melting pot of media talent and a hotspot for the who’s who of Hollywood.
He shows no signs of slowing down, Luca reveals that he is currently working on a Welsh film called, “A Sanctuary for Water Voles, it’s going to be a kind of Welsh Little Miss Sunshine.”
Storytelling clearly directs his next move, as he tells me: “I also haven’t finished telling stories, I have at least 2 films in the pipeline for the next couple of years.”
It is obvious that Luca is bursting with raw talent and enthusiasm, both in front of the camera and behind. Along with fellow Welsh talent such as Style of the City favourite; Tom Cullen (see Issue 5’s exclusive interview), we could be on the brink of a Cool Cymru; The Renaissance.