20 May 1955
Diego Abatantuono (born 20 May 1955) is an Italian cinema and theatre actor, and screenwriter, three-time winner of the Nastro d'Argento.
Abatantuono was born in Milan to a father of Apulian origin and a mother from Como. The latter worked as wardrober in a Milanese jazz and later cabaret club, Derby, whose owner was Abatantuono's uncle. He started to work at Derby first in lighting, then as artistic director and later as an actor.
His first approach to cinema took place thanks to the comedic group I Gatti di Vicolo Miracoli, who brought him with them to audition. Here he was noticed by director Romolo Guerrieri, who offered him a part in the film Young, Violent, Dangerous. He participated in comedies such as "Saxofone", Fantozzi contro tutti, then he returned to work at Derby where he was discovered by TV showman, film director and talent scout Renzo Arbore, who cast him as "Don Gabriele" in his 1980 controversial film Il Pap'occhio.
His first successful recurrent role, co-written with Giorgio Porcaro, was that of a poorly cultivated immigrant from southern Italy in Milan ("Terrunciello"), who used to speak a very personal form of slang. The first real starring role is obtained at the insistence of prize-winner actress Monica Vitti, who wanted him in Il tango della gelosia. The success he obtained with this role convinced Carlo Vanzina to produce Eccezzziunale... veramente, for which Abatantuono had written the screenplay. In this film, he plays three different roles as a fan of Italy's three main football teams: A.C. Milan, Internazionale, and Juventus. His performance became iconic and the film turned out to be a cult film in Italy. Twenty years after, he reprised all three roles for the 2006 sequel Eccezzziunale...veramente - Capitolo secondo... me, which featured cameos from then-current Milan players Paolo Maldini, Massimo Ambrosini, Alessandro Costacurta, Dida, Andriy Shevchenko, and Gennaro Gattuso in the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League.
In the mid-1980s he abandoned the character who had given him success, and for some time he devoted himself to theatrical performances. But it was Pupi Avati who led him into the turning point, having understood his potential as an actor, even a dramatic one. Avati will include him in the diptych Christmas Present (1986). For his performance in this film, Abatantuono won a Nastro d'Argento for Best supporting Actor. The film had a sequel, Christmas Rematch.
In Luigi Comencini's A Boy from Calabria (1987), he played a poor farmer who wishes his eldest son will graduate from school to get out of his miserable condition, and does not understand the boy's passion for running. After this role, Abatantuono founded his own production company, Colorado Film, thanks to which he reaffirmed himself as one of the most interesting actors of the new Italian cinema, with Giuseppe Bertolucci's I cammelli (1988) and Gabriele Salvatores' film cycle, which consecrated him definitively: Marrakech Express (1989), Turné (1990), the Oscar-winning Mediterraneo (1991), Puerto Escondido (1992), Nirvana (1997), Amnèsia (2002), I'm Not Scared (2003), Happy Family (2010) and Volare (2019).
Abatantuono is also a popular figure of Italian television shows. He is well known to be a long-time A.C. Milan fan.
David di Donatello