Interview! Rising star Robert De Domenici on acting, transformation, and enjoying the process

When Javier Bardem cancelled my interview while in town promoting Little Mermaid last week, I found myself with a free interview slot to fill in the mad circus of journalists. So, I asked a newcomer and promising young actor of Italian origins, Robert De Domenici, known for his role in Tony and Tina’s Wedding, to step in for Javier. He said yes, so we spent three hours chatting away before and during Raquel Reno’s gig at Middle Eight Covent Garden. Here’s how it went.

Portrait photo of Rising star Robert De Domenici

Photo Headshot of Robert De Domenici by JD Kelleher

The Italian connection undoubtedly contributed to the enjoyment of the evening. Our interview took an unusual turn as we agreed to meet in front of Eros’ statue at Piccadilly Circus, next to a small green souvenir kiosk. Robert chose that spot because it held nostalgic memories from his childhood when he used to help his father run it. It was heart-warming to see him reminisce about those unique experiences and the valuable lessons he learnt. Robert is a firm believer in the law of attraction, and it showed as he struck up a conversation with a stranger who turned out to be an Italian American from New York, much like the character he currently plays in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.

Rising star Robert De Domenici

Robert as Dominic Fabrizzi in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” (stage, 2023)

For me, this was an unconventional approach to conducting an interview, but I saw great potential in Robert. Perhaps one day, he may become the next Robert De Niro or Al Pacino, who are his acting idols. I could even proudly say, “I discovered him.” Robert used to spend hours watching these Hollywood giants on screen with his dad.

What struck me was Robert’s dedication to his craft, evident in his role as Dominic Fabrizzi in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding. He remained in character even during our conversation, and I was surprised to learn that his fellow actors had never heard him speak without his Bronx Italian accent. Hearing him switch effortlessly between a British accent mixed with Neapolitan expressions was charming, especially given his Italian heritage.

Rising star Robert De Domenici piccadilly circus

As I later discovered, Robert had done his homework before the show started and knew who I was. He confessed to having read the latest London Mums magazine that was sitting on the desk of the Arcelor Mittal Orbit‘s manager. Being of Neapolitan blood and raised in London by his Italian family, Robert takes pride in his traditional roots. He appreciates the unique perspective of Italians growing up outside of Italy, who maintain a sentimental attachment to their heritage and culture. Naples has a reputation for producing some of Italy’s finest actors, and Robert sees himself as a young Robert De Niro. Throughout the evening, he even treated me to a few lines in the distinctive style and voice of his idol.

Robert De Domenici at Raquel Reno's gig with Monica Costa and Melanie Faldo

Robert De Domenici at Raquel Reno’s gig with Monica Costa and Melanie Faldo

To surprise Robert, I arranged tickets to a music show, and we made our way to Middle Eight in Covent Garden, where Raquel Reno awaited us. Robert’s infectious energy and fun-loving nature made him great company in addition to his impressive acting talent.

Amidst the bustling atmosphere of bartenders and guests, we delved into the core of the interview, and Robert’s demeanour shifted. He became focused and serious, displaying his deep commitment and passion for his acting career. 

Determined to fully immerse himself in the character, he ventured to the Sunset Strip in Soho and spoke to a Brazilian dancer to gather insights and first-hand experiences. Through several interactions, she helped him craft the character of Dominic, and he even went as far as getting a tattoo of a black panther, which he believed represented a more masculine version of a black cat.

Robert De Domenici quote

Robert as Peter in “Liberté” (film, 2020)

It was clear that Robert follows in the footsteps of Pacino and De Niro, employing The Method approach to prepare for his roles. His dedication extended to physical transformations as well, such as building muscle to portray a detective realistically. Robert understood that such transformations were often necessary for actors to achieve Oscar-worthy performances, citing Brendan Fraser’s recent success in The Whale as an example. He recognised the importance of hard work and his passion for transforming himself physically and emotionally for each role, allowing him to fully experience the character’s life without enduring the real-life consequences.

As Detective Rapp in “Yaga” (stage, 2022)

Robert as Detective Rapp in “Yaga” (stage, 2022)

When asked about the most rewarding piece of work in his career so far, De Domenici shared that he is currently enjoying his role in Tony and Tina’s Wedding the most. Beyond the cultural connection to the Italian setting, he finds the character of Dominic, a Brooklyn-born individual, incredibly fun to portray. De Domenici also mentioned his previous role in a play where he impersonated an American detective and underwent physical transformations to better embody the character. Acknowledging the challenges of finding work as an actor, De Domenici explained that he prefers to go with the flow and be open to auditioning for new projects. He emphasised the need to follow his instincts and be present in the moment, drawing inspiration from a conversation he had with the renowned 60s actor Terence Stamp (known for his sophisticated villain roles in the early Superman movies and Star Wars).

Stamp advised him to always be present, both as an actor and in real life. De Domenici believes that being present allows him to fully embody different characters and tells stories through their perspectives, unlike actors who often portray themselves in every role. Robert De Domenici exemplifies a dedicated and passionate young actor who strives to transform himself for each role, both physically and emotionally. He cherishes the process of acting and believes that being present is crucial for success in the industry. With a commitment to enjoying the process and following his instincts, De Domenici remains open to new opportunities while continuing to tell compelling stories through his performances.

Robert (born Roberto) De Domenici might not be Javier Bardem (yet), but I had lots of fun with him and I can see how the law of attraction has worked everything out for me. Remember this name! Just saying …

 

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