HEART OF THE HEALER. While he’s a doctor only in fiction, Giacomo Gianniotti has his own way of healing the world and making it a better place
Coat by Etro
Back in late August, a massive earthquake hit Central Italy. In its aftermath, volunteers from all over the world started pouring in to render assistance. One such volunteer was Canadian actor (but Italian-born) Giacomo Gianniotti, known most of all for portraying Dr. Andrew DeLuca in hit drama series “Grey’s Anatomy.” Then again, he’s no stranger to both—charity work and medical dramas, that is. In fact, one of his first TV roles was in an episode of “Medicina Generale,” which can perhaps be described as an Italian “General Hospital.”
With a new season of “Grey’s Anatomy” well under way, his first venture into the realm of film production also just starting off and his continued support to various charitable organizations, Gianniotti certainly has a lot on his plate these days. Still, he manages to fit in some of his hobbies (including riding big motorbikes, which, apparently, also ties in with his charity work—because of course it does) into his busy schedule, as well as a short intercontinental chat with DA MAN.
DA MAN: Hi, Giacomo. thank you very much for having us. So, what keeps you busy these days?
Giacomo Gianniotti: We’re starting season 13 of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is really exciting. We’re already four episodes in right now, and there’s a lot of really great writing this season. I was just in Italy because the earthquake that just hit. I went there with an organization I work with, called All Hands Volunteers, and I just got back from that. And in my free time I love to play music: I play guitar and I sing, and I like to sort of jam with other artists. I also like to ride motorcycles. That’s something that I love to do on the weekends here. Two years ago I started a production company called Fired Up Studios, and we produce short and feature films. I have a feature film that we’re prepping right now, and they’re going to start shooting next spring in Toronto. It’s exciting to be on the producing side of a movie. I will be acting in it, but I’ll have a little bit more creative control.
DA MAN: Speaking of motorcycles and your charity work, if we’re not mistaken, you’re also involved with REV IT UP For SickKids, a fundraiser organized by motorcycle enthusiasts. Can you tell us a bit about this movement? Is it a regular thing or was it just a one-time event?
Giacomo Gianniotti: No, that’s an annual thing we do every year. We raise money for sick kids in hospital in Toronto, where I’m from, and every year it’s specific to what the hospital needs. They have a federal budget that they receive from the government to run the hospital. But it’s not enough to cover all the expenses needed to operate every year. So, they highly depend on the support from other organizations to make their budget every year. And REV IT UP For SickKids is one of those organizations. This year we raised over 100,000 dollars, which was amazing. It’s a great opportunity to get like-minded people who love motorcycles to raise money for sick kids. So, it was a great charity event and also a fun thing to do every year.
Outfit by Etro, shoes by Boss by Hugo Boss
DA MAN: Going back to your appearance in “Grey’s Anatomy,” what has been the best part of being on this show?
Giacomo Gianniotti: I think the actors that I work with are so talented and there are so many of us. Normally, on a TV show you work with a very small cast of four to five people, and then you have guest stars here and there. But [on “Grey’s Anatomy”] we have a series’ regular cast of so many people, and a lot of them have been on it for a long time. So, yeah, I think the best part is just the people I get to spend every day at work with. For a drama, we have a lot of very funny, comedic moments. The spirits and the morale of our set is very, very fun and very happy. I think it helps balance out the fact that what we deal with on a regular basis is quite sad and dramatic. So, we try to have as much fun as possible so we don’t get depressed.
DA MAN: Just like in a real hospital, at “Grey’s Anatomy” you see people coming and going all the time. How long do you think will your “residency” in the show be?
Giacomo Gianniotti: It’s really not up to me at this point. I have an agreement with them, so they can have me for as long as they want me or as long as I want to be with the show. But I’m having such a great time with the show, so I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Outfit and shoes by Ermenegildo Zegna
DA MAN: Do you have any new projects—film or otherwise—that you can tell us about?
Giacomo Gianniotti: Not at the moment. I did some voice acting on a video game this year called “Uncharted 4.” That was fun; that was my first time doing voiceover work for a video game. It’s a very big gaming franchise, so it was a fun way to engage a new group of fans that are also fans of the game. I don’t have any films coming out at the moment, but as I said, I’m slated to shoot one this upcoming spring with my production company. That should be exciting.
DA MAN: On a related note, what is it like taking on movie production? What would you say are the biggest lessons you’ve learned now that you’re also working behind the camera?
Giacomo Gianniotti: I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is to check your ego. I think a lot of times we want to think that we’re good at everything, but there’s just so much to learn, and this is such a complex medium that we work in. So, you know, starting a production company and making films of my own has been a real journey in checking my ego and learning about humility. When you want something done right, your instinct tends to be, “Well, I can do this—I can do it myself!” But the reality is that there’s someone who’s been working their whole life to master and to perfect their skills, and those people need to be honored … and hired. I think the smartest people in this industry who have had the greatest success know how to check their ego and to get the best guy for the job. They surround themselves with the smartest people they know, and I think that’s the key to success. I’ve heard this expression once: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” And it always stuck with me because you should always be around people who are better than you, and are more skilled and experienced, so that you’re always growing and learning. So, for me, the process of creating my own content has been about meeting with experienced filmmakers, directors and writers, and then I absorb everything—all their knowledge—like a sponge.
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”
DA MAN: One final question. When, say, you’re going for a regular checkup, does it all make a lot more sense now that you’ve been studying medical lingo and procedures for so long?
Giacomo Gianniotti: [Laughs] Yeah, absolutely. Since we’re exposed to so much medical jargon and language and situations, I find that I definitely feel much more confident engaging in a conversation about basic health. Whereas before, I felt totally removed and alienated in the medical field. Having gotten to observe some real surgeries in hospitals to study for my role has been invaluable in helping me play the part and really understand what these people do every day. So, yeah, I definitely have a greater understanding of medicine. However, that being said, do not trust me to be your doctor. I am an actor. I can maybe put a Band-Aid on, that’s about it.
To see more photographs from this photo shoot, get your copy of DA MAN Oct/Nov’16 here, and check these outtakes out: