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You could be forgiven for thinking Vince Colosimo had been chosen to promote 20th Century Fox’s new line of World Cinema releases based on his ethnicity alone. But after only a few minutes with the star of such films as Lantana and Chopper you can tell he is actually incredibly passionate about the subject and these films. Stardom doesn’t seem to be high on the agenda for a man who seems quite content with life and is more than happy to chat to us on a cool morning in Melbourne.

The discussion was based around the World Cinema Collection, a series of titles from around the globe which showcase some of the best non-mainstream talent going around. It’s a great initiative and should serve to give audiences a real variety to their DVD-watching habits, so they actually have a choice instead of merely sticking to the blockbuster releases.

Vince Colosimo in Lantana

DVDActive: So can you tell the readers where you think the value is in these sorts of films? What makes them appealing to the mainstream audience now?

VC: I suppose number one being on DVD and to have a world that is just so much of a smaller place these days that we see things from all over the place, and of course Australia being so multicultural and culturally diverse. You know, we watch these films and also get a great look at the way things are done overseas and the way people live and the quirkiness and the storytelling and all that sort of stuff, but also there’s so much we can relate to as well because of our own diversity. Normal family life and relationships, it’s all quite deep and meaningful and they’re just really great stories more than anything. Of course we have to put up with the subtitles which is not easy. You know, I’m not a subtitles person myself but once you start you can easily become hooked because they’re really just great films and an experience to be had by all I think.

DVDActive: That’s probably where the value is with DVD where you’ve got the subtitles available on the disc and you’re able to reach larger audiences.

VC: That’s right. And not only the subtitles but subtitles in lots of different languages as well, not just English. I mean, Italians can watch Greek films and Greeks can watch Taiwanese films, it’s all there for you and it’s just amazing so why shouldn’t it be out there? Why shouldn’t people be using this resource and really enjoying it?

DVDActive: So do you appreciate that sort of filmmaking where the artists can create their own stories without having to stick to the mainstream conventions?

VC: The American big time, big flick, box-office hit where they make the poster before….yeah, I do appreciate it. I love it and that’s what it’s about for me. It’s the sort of storytelling and scriptwriting that makes me want to be an actor. It holds me in there for stuff like that I can get my teeth into, it’s beautiful. You know, there’s always the other crazy stuff you can do and it’s great to work in different fields and different mediums but your heart and soul is working with a good script and that’s the base and the foundation for me all the time. So many of these films are based on people working their heart and soul out to get these films released and make them and tell them how they want to be told. It’s just great, great storytelling.
Vince Colosimo
DVDActive: Lantana is probably the film that is closest to that sort of universal appeal. Is that what attracted you to the role?

VC: Lantana was just a brilliant script. Of course, it attracted me to it but there’s a couple of other films as well, you know, I think Chopper’s a great film and it’s a great piece of storytelling and I thought Walking On Water was really brilliant as well and of course Lantana, which probably started the whole ball rolling, reading a brilliant script and thinking it’s a chance to play a great character with a beginning, middle and end and work with a director who so passionately wants to tell this story and passionately wants to work with you. That’s what makes it all so worthwhile, to create and be part of that creative team.

DVDActive: So are you probably thinking that hopefully some of the more urban Australian stories might come out and hit international screens like these films are?

VC: You know, it just depends. Sometimes films can be made and are made in this country that are very territorial. They’re not open to the rest of the world I think. I think they’re sometimes a little bit sheltered and not open for people to come and have a look because maybe they don’t understand or maybe it’s just not relevant enough to them so we tread that fine line in this country, a tightrope of making it accessible not only to us but to the rest of the world. And that is, in the end, all about storytelling. If it’s a good story about people…you know, look at Shine and look at Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert, those films, and Muriel’s Wedding, they’re just really great stories but they were opened up, they were universal in a lot of ways. Again, great characters whether they be Australian quirky oddballs, whatever, it was accessible for other people to come and have a look and go “yeah, I want to know about that”. And also, good filmmaking.

DVDActive: You spoke of the multiculturalism in Australia. Do you think that’s one of the things that has heightened the appeal of the World Cinema titles alongside the mainstream titles over the years?

VC: That always helps, yeah. We have an amazing Italian community here in Melbourne and we have the Italian film festival (traveling around all major Australian cities from October 1 to December 3, 2003) that goes through the roof. And so does the Spanish film festival and so does the Greek film festival when they finally make films, and I think that is a great appeal because we, as the Italian-base, can get the word out. As they did with films like Mediterraneo, It’s A Beautiful Life, La Vita Bella with Roberto Benigni and so forth. So they get the word out and so the other cultures and the Anglo-Saxons all want to go “what’s the big fuss all about?” and they go out and see it. It works the other way as well sometimes, too. I think that helps; our diversity, our multiculturalism, it’s great. It’s an amazing melting pot we have and people pass on the word. Not only do they pass on the word they tell people about those stories and where they come from and what it’s really like because people want to know more after seeing a great film. They want to know “was that true, is that what really happened?” and we talk more and we mix and it’s all just great.

DVDActive: So have you got a pick of the bunch? A favourite?

VC: I think out of these nine films, I’ve seen them and I really enjoyed a lot of them but the one film that stood out for me and I suppose stood out for a lot of people is Talk To Her, the Spanish film which won original screenplay and it’s so deserved of that, you know, I don’t think I could’ve given it to a better film. It was just so unique. Have you seen it?

DVDActive: Yeah, I have.

VC: It’s just so unique and so incredibly quirky but true, heartfelt and funny and all those things put together but again telling a really great story. With of course the basis being the thing that pushes you through that film is love, friendship, loyalty, passion, all those things in a really interesting, really unique story.

Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her

DVDActive: So what’s your setup like at home, though I can’t imagine there would be much time to look at anyone else’s work when you’ve got your own to go on with?

VC: I don’t have anything fantastic, no I’ve just got your simple, really good telly and a good DVD player. That’s all I really need at the moment. Maybe one day I can have my home cinema setup, when they ask you to review films they’ll come and do the whole house up for me. That would be fantastic.

DVDActive: Big boys and their toys.

VC: Yeah, but at the moment I’m sort of in between jobs and this is why doing this is so great because even though I’m not making a film or working on one I’m still looking at them and it’s really great for actors to watch as much as they possibly can in whatever medium; television, film, theatre, international film it’s so good and inspiring and a great base for any actor to see as much as they possibly can.

So I’m in between jobs and waiting to hear about a whole lot of things, I’m reading a lot of stuff, there could be an overseas trip happening very soon and it’s funny because I’m not working at the moment but I feel busier than I’ve ever been in my life, it’s insane. I can’t wait to get a job and have a break, you know.

DVDActive: So do you own any of your own discs? The Lantana set is probably the most impressive out of them all.

VC: 20th Century Fox have been incredibly kind to me and sent me a whole lot of stuff. Yeah, I suppose I’ve started a bit of a collection. I’m not a really big one for collecting DVDs. I was just sort of thinking about it last night and I’m not a big collector because I think when I watch a film and I’ve taken it all in that’s pretty much it. I might go back to it in years to come and watch a scene but that experience for me was had then and there and I don’t know if you could ever emulate it again or try and make it happen again. But they’re great to have and the great thing about DVD is that they’re so easy to collect. I’ve also got a whole lot of DVDs I haven’t watched so that’s great; my Godfather Collection, my 007 Collection and one of my favourite all time films is Raging Bull with Robert De Niro and that came out as a special Anniversary release a couple of years ago and I got that. So I’m sort of proud of that small collection I have. I’ve got a daughter now (named Lucia), she’s nine months old and we get her DVDs now and they’re so easy to put in and fast forward to the bits she wants to watch. DVD is such a great concept.

DVDActive: So can you watch yourself? Do you mind watching your work up on the screen?

VC: I don’t really like watching myself, no. These days when you walk on a set there’s always a monitor and you can watch your stuff back and people always ask me if I want to see it. I say, no I actually don’t because I have to trust the director that he says it’s OK because I can’t actually be very objective with what I see myself doing. I get frustrated and I always want to do it again because I think it’s never good enough. So especially the first time I see a film that I am in I’ll go and watch it and find it hard to watch because I am looking at myself a lot. You can’t help but pick out what you’re doing and where you come in or how much you’ve got compared to everyone else, how clear you are, how many close-ups you get and all that sort of stuff. But it’s not until the second time where I let all that go and I watch the film for what it is. It wasn’t until the second time I watched Lantana that I really appreciated the film and enjoyed the film. The same with Chopper. It took two or three times where I really understood what the director was trying to do, when I took myself out of the picture, so to speak. So it’s incredibly hard watching myself on the screen. I don’t find it easy at all.

Vince Colosimo

DVDActive: So finally, what’s next for you?

VC: I might be doing some stuff here. I’m hosting a show (aired in Australia on October 9, 2003) called Australia’s Most Identical Twins which is a really great serial documentary special, and that was an amazing thing to do. Not only was it an amazing eye-opener but just a difficult role to play as a host. I have so much respect now for anyone who can do that sort of stuff as I didn’t realise how hard it was. My wife (Australian actress) Jane Hall used to host lots of shows and I went home and said I take my hat off to you. I find that was one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done, talking to a camera. You try to be yourself and you’re like “well, who the f*** is that? I’ve got no idea who that is.” So it was a good experience and maybe one day when I feel a lot more comfortable within myself I might be able to do more of it.

DVDActive: Vince, thanks for your time.

VC: No problem.

A very special thanks to 20th Century Fox for allowing us the time with Vince to talk about the World Cinema Collection (among other things) which is out now both online and in stores. In the first wave of releases you can pick up titles such as Pedro Almodovar’s Talk To Her, Italian films Bread & Tulips, The Last Kiss and Italian For Beginners, the sex-and-food romp from Taiwan, Eat Drink, Man Woman, French rom-com The Taste Of Others, Federico Fellini classics Roma and Satyricon and the 1977 masterpiece The Man Who Loved Women.

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