You Know. That Guy. Giovanni Ribisi.

by Giovanni Reda SOURCE MAN of the WORLD
Photo Credit: Giovanni Reda

Giovanni Ribisi is a shy actor who has had the rare luck to be doing what he loves for the better part of three decades in roles ranging from brooding indie lover to pelvis-thrusting loon.

“I don’t know what the keys to life are,” he says. “but I enjoy my work because I see that maybe there’s an importance in doing something that is really rewarding, in the sense of accomplishment.”

Giovanni Ribisi began his career with quirky, offbeat parts in several television shows. As narrator of Sophia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, his raspy, regionally ambiguous voice became as distinctive as the characters he would come to play in films, including key roles in blockbuster films such as Saving Private Ryan, Cold Mountain, and Avatar. In his latest film, Gangster Squad, Ribisi plays a 1940s cop turned renegade who’s hired to take down a notorious gangster. It’s a meaty role in a movie that chronicles the Los Angeles Police Department’s struggle to keep the East Coast mafia out of L.A. in the 1940s and ’50s.

Ribisi, 37, believes that, one way or another, he will “unequivocally, absolutely” be working in film for the rest of his life. “My father and I have always talked about it probably being from the small strain or link I have back to Sicilian culture. Sicilian farmers can never retire. Otherwise, that’s death,” he says. His future in film may not always be as an actor.  Although he doesn’t talk about it much, Ribisi has a few projects in the works that position him behind the camera where he can have an impact on making technology and storytelling more central to the film genre.

“I’m definitely a proponent of technology evolving in the story ritual, people watching movies in 3-D, or stereo, or via the RED camera movement. But I’m also nostalgic for films without visual effects, where the most prominent aspects of the movie are the story, the elements of the protagonist and the antagonist, and the subplots, as opposed to explosions and special effects.

A real-life story has been quietly unfolding for Ribisi since June, when he wed model, actress, and Dr. Martens enthusiast Agyness Deyn. While the news may have shocked show biz writers who didn’t even know the two were dating, Ribisi says he has found in his bride a love that mirrors his devotion to film. “I mean, people ask me how my wife is and I’m, like, ‘She’s the best thing ever.’ I feel like the luckiest guy in the world….

“There’s a really great documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” Ribisi says. “He loves what he does, and he decided to love what he does. He didn’t say, ‘It’s going to love me, and I’m going to love it back, and I’m just going to have these uncontrollable emotions of love.’ He said, ‘I’m gonna just enjoy what I do.’ ” For Ribisi, this also includes directing a documentary about another one of his great loves, skateboarding.