The below interview was conducted in October of 2023. Out of respect for Mr. Rampini, that version will be used to best portray his voice and maintain factual accuracy.
Jacopo Rampini (‘11) spent his early years in France and Italy, the latter of which he’s found to be a haven for screen acting. His distinct, classical quality reflects his shared upbringing in Italy and France. The actor frequently plays in historical pieces.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
You were born in Rome and came to the States for training. I’m interested to hear your perspective on this.
I thought it was great; it was amazing. I’m in Europe now, and one of the things I realized is just how trained American actors are. I was on set in Italy, and when I told the crew that I needed some space–to sort of go method and not talk to this one actor for a few days–they were like, “Whoa, what is this? What is that?” For us, it’s just a part of preparing. When you’re in New York, going up against those people, you have no choice but to be prepared. The Academy gave me those basics to get started. The fact that there are theatres inside the school means you get experience being onstage in front of an audience.
I did the winter program. It was much quicker and more condensed than the fall program. The intensity helped me learn a lot…yeah, I learned a lot. Accent training was really important for me. I grew up in Italy and France, and my accent was a bit of a mix of those two. If anything, I wish I had more camera, networking, and business classes. Once you graduate, that’s what you need. You must go out and do student films, create a reel, meet directors and producers, and send your material to agents. Nobody will sign you at the beginning unless you’ve booked something.
And you’ve booked quite a few roles in the past decade. Tell us about your work.
In the beginning, as you know, you have to take everything. My first thing was a Verizon commercial where I played soccer, which I got because I played soccer in Italy. When I was at The Academy, in a camera class, each person would go up one by one, and everyone in the class would define you in one word…I got the word classic a lot. And you know what? I keep playing classic roles. The next one is premiering in Rome next week, at the Rome Film Festival. I play William Shakespeare in it.
In 2014, I played a young Joseph Stalin in a History Channel docuseries called The World Wars. I got that after my friend told me about it; he said, “Hey, you look like him; you should apply for this.” It was on Actors Access. After a few rounds, I sent in photos and had to prepare a monologue. I ended up booking it without an agent and with very little work…I’d been out of acting work for maybe a year or two. I’ve done a lot of historic parts since.
Do you have a certain rhythm that keeps you going, that keeps you consistent? You seem to be working all the time.
I don’t work all the time. The hardest part of being an actor is trying to get continuity. I don’t care about fame or money; I want to work continuously. I just finished shooting a film where I was on set every day for 12 days…it made me grow so much as an actor. I was doing it all the time, and that’s how you grow, right? It’s a muscle, and you have to keep it flexible. How do you deal with the times when you’re not working? Do you have a hobby or something that keeps you sane while you’re not on set or auditioning? I’m fortunate to live in Italy–I’m SAG, but I can work in Italy–and have been busy. But what have people been doing since July?
What more can you tell us about the project where you play Shakespeare?
It will premiere at the Rome Film Festival next week. It’s one of the largest film festivals in Italy. One of the things that’s so great about this is that it’s a feature film in costume, a period piece. Half of it is in English, half Italian…and the writing is beautiful. The story is about a few years of Shakespeare’s life that we don’t know about; he just disappeared. It’s imagined that he goes to Naples, and the King hosts him. While he is at court, they put on a play to greet him, and Shakespeare sees this young actor with blonde curls, this gorgeous actor, and he falls in love with him–platonically at first. Shakespeare kidnaps him, brings him to the Globe Theater in London, and trains him to be all these female parts like Desdemona and Juliet. But he runs away, and Shakespeare is heartbroken. I think it’s Shakespeare for Italians; Shakespeare comes to Italy. That’s how it’s being sold to Italians. I speak with an English accent in the film, and it’s my first leading role in a feature in Italy…I’m entering the Italian film industry with a role that I’m proud of.
More on Jacopo Rampini can be found on his website. He recently filmed The Thief of Falling Star, a fantasy shot in English and Italian, and has worked on television in The Blacklist, and will star in Power next year.