The Following interview is translated from the Croatian magazine Gloria and was first published in early 2003. Many thanks to Hari Alfeo for translating the article for the website…
Ray Lovelock, the Italian actor who plays surgeon Hans Rudolf in the TV series “Incantesimo” (Magic), talks about his English origins, his career as soccer player and musician, and reveals that 33 years ago, he and his wife spent their honeymoon in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
“In movies it’s easy to burn brightly, but it takes talent to last. When the producers of ‘Incantesimo’ offered me the part of Dr. Rudolf, I knew that my career, after some 50 parts in movies and on television, was still on the up” says the 53-year-old Italian. “I spent three months in Zagreb in 1970, shooting the American film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. A week before arriving in Zagreb , I had married Gioia, after two years of being together, so that we spent our honeymoon at Zagreb ‘s Esplanade hotel”
Were you ever to return to Croatia after that?
“I returned to Zagreb in 1984 to shoot the ‘Two Prisoners’ five-part TV series. I also visited Istria several times, when I was working in Trieste a few years ago”
How come both your first and last names are English?
“You mean despite the fact that I was born in Rome and spent my entire life living and working in Italy ?” (Laughs) “My father was British, a member of the Allies, who towards the end of World War Two, in 1944, liberated Italy by toppling the fascist regime. But he didn’t return home because he had fallen in love with my mother, Maria Antonietta. My parents were married the following year and had four sons. I’m the third and the only artist in the family”
Who chose the name Ray?
“Ray is short for Raymond. I got it by accident. My mother, who worked for the Australian embassy for years, actually wanted to call me Simon, but my late father misheard her and had me registered as Raymond”
When did you realise you wanted to become an actor?
“That happened by accident too. When I was young I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, but when I realised it wasn’t going to work, I enrolled in a mechanical engineering college. While studying I also played in a rock band, worked as an extra in movies to make some extra money, and did commercials. I realised that acting was interesting when I was 17, when director Carlo Lizzani gave me an important part in ‘Banditi di Milano’, which was a big success with both the public and the critics. Looking back, that success went to my head, so I ended up being an actor.”
What motivates you to continue working after 35 years in the movies?
“Good parts are a challenge. I can’t say that I took only parts that I liked. I accepted some to survive, to give myself and my family a nice life. But the Hans Rudolf part isn’t one of them”
What did you do before you became an actor?
“I played for the local soccer club in San Lorenzo . Then in 1966 I formed a band with my friend Tomas Milian, a famous Italian musician (sic). We played Rolling Stones songs. An acting agent spotted me at the Piper, a cult Roman nightclub, and offered me my first part in a picture. That’s how it all started”
What type of music do you listen to today?
“Bob Dylan remains number one for me. I love his songs and I have all of his records at home”
Were you a rebel as a young man?
“I grew up without my father because my parents got divorced and he returned to Great Britain when I was six. For me, the divorce was not traumatic because my mother is a wonderful person who raised us to believe that freedom is the greatest virtue. That’s why I never felt the need to rebel. I did wear my hair long, down to the middle of my back, as well as a leather jacket, but my mother and two aunts, her sisters who lived with us, didn’t complain about it. Although many thought I was a delinquent because of the way I dressed. Nice guys wore suits and ties”
When did you move out of your mother’s?
“Very early. I met my wife Gioia in 1968, at a party given by a common friend, and we got married in 1970. We had a great time together so we decided to marry. Our only daughter Francesca Romana was born in 1971”
What does she do?
“Francesca is an assistant director and has been working in Naples for two years now. We’ve worked together twice so far and I truly enjoyed being on the set with her”
Do you also work with your wife?
“Gioia is my agent. I convinced her to do it ten years ago and we’ve never had a row so far. Our relationship is one of the few in the movie business that is excellent even after 35 years. We have lively talks every day. My wife is my best friend”
Which part would you never take?
“Every part is a challenge for me. Even when I play bad guys and rotten criminals”
What’s the most unpleasant thing you had to do in a movie?
“It was a Spanish movie. I was riding on horseback and was supposed to fall into a ditch. But the people on the movie hadn’t checked the ditch before the shoot so I fell into filthy water, full of mud and junk”
What can make you happy?
“I like to help people who are in most need of help. I inherited this feeling of social justice from my mother, and as the years go by it’s increasingly stronger”
How do you relax?
“Watching movies from the 40s, the 50s and the 60s. I like to hang out with my friends, play soccer and listen to music. I’ve been on the Italian actors’ soccer team for 18 years now, and I’ve recently been made captain. I’m especially glad that we give all the box office money to charity”
What would your ideal day look like?
“There would be no wars, no class differences, and money wouldn’t be the moving force of mankind. I was once shooting in Brazil and spent five weeks in shock at the poverty in the streets I’d never seen before. Whenever we had lunch in a restaurant, there was a bunch of dirty, poor children staring at us from outside with their mouths open. And the worst of all was that I knew I could give those kids only alms but not really help them in the long term”