Jan. 5th 1951
I was born in Rome January 5th, 1951,
son of the great Vittorio De Sica
and actress Maria Mercader.
That particular day, my father
remained in Milan: he was shooting
the marvelous final scene
of the movie Miracolo a Milano
(Palme d’or in Cannes),
with the poor people sitting
on their broomsticks and singing
as they fly up to heaven.
I am married to Silvia Verdone
and have two children,
Mariarosa and Brando
Christian De Sica is one of the most famous and popular actors in Italy, thanks to his professional career, his true multi-faceted talent (he is a showman, actor, singer, director and screenwriter), and the popularity and box office success of virtually all his films, TV series and theatrical performances.
A brilliant actor who concentrates almost entirely on comic roles, Christian De Sica plays his characters with all the commitment of a thoroughly serious professional – each one of his characters is played with care and attention to detail – and he has become an indispensable presence in Italy’s film panorama, with results that are always in keeping with the high expectations of audience success.
“I’m a street acrobat; I feel like an actor. I feel like a showman. A comedian.
Someone who sings, acts, dances. A person in this profession should know how to do everything. […] To a certain extent, that’s how my father was, too, that was the school.
Then, of course, some people do it better and others do it worse”
Christian De Sica, Figlio di papà [Daddy’s Boy]
Christian with his parents and his brother
Christian, Manuel and Vittorio De Sica
After his high school diploma in classical studies, Christian De Sica went to Venezuela to work in a hotel: this is where he got started as a showman.
“I got my diploma, good grades, high grade point average.
I wanted to go on a voyage of initiation, an existential, Picaresque and pleasure-loving trip, the kind that marks
the end of school and adolescence.
Destination: South America, Caracas. […] I was going to visit a Venezuelan girl, the daughter of a TV host, with the hope of starting an acting career. […] After an initial, disastrous beginning as a waiter, I soon got an audition and in just a few weeks… I had signed a generous, five-year contract and was singing on television”
(Quote) After returning to Rome in 1970, he enrolled at the university La Sapienza but didn’t complete his studies at the faculty of Arts and Letters. “I took seven exams, at Arts and Letters, to make my father happy. He wanted me to go to university…
He wanted me to become an intellectual”
(Quote) Initially attracted to music, in 1973 he participated at the Festival of Sanremo with the song Mondo mio. “My father didn’t want to attend, so his fame wouldn’t overshadow my small moment of fame on that prestigious stage. Instead, he remained at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, where he could gamble and follow the show
on the radio along with my mother”
Vita di Blaise Pascal (1970)
Alle Sette della Sera (1973)
Christian’s Italian debut came in 1970 thanks to Roberto Rossellini, who offered him a small role in his TV movie Vita di Blaise Pascal, but he had already debuted on the silver screen in 1968 in the French movie Pauline 1880 by Jean-Luis Bertuccelli.
After his singing experience at the Festival of Sanremo, Christian decided to dedicate himself completely to acting. Thus, he appeared in A Brief Vacation (1972) - directed by his father - alongside Renato Salvatori and Florinda Bolkan; followed by The Cousin by Aldo Lado (1974); Love and Energy by Pasquale Festa Campanile (1975); La madama by Duccio Tessari (1975); and House of Pleasure for Women by Pupi Avati (1976).
In 1977, he won a David di Donatello as “Revelation of the year” for his role in Giovannino by Paolo Nuzzi, starring Tina Aumont and Miguel Bosé. “That year, even Rita Hayworth and Jack Nicholson were in Taormina for the David di Donatellos”
(Quote) His first audience success as a comedian and TV host came during the ‘70s on a number of RAI TV variety shows, including Bambole, non c'è una lira (1978) and Studio 80 (1979). Both these programs were directed by Antonello Falqui. “I was twenty-three years old, my father had died,
I didn’t have a cent. He had lost everything gambling at the casinos. I did variety shows. And I was lucky because I began with a true maestro: Antonello Falqui. Then I became a comedian. Because I had a bourgeois physique.
I was fat, I was a daddy’s boy, I was also a bit aristocratic. With a Gassman nose. A conceited profile.
A disagreeable nose”
Time for Loving (1982)
The 1980s were almost entirely dedicated to comedies. After appearing in a few movies like An almost perfect love by Michael Ritchie, Liquirizia (1979), Love in First Class (1980) and Casta e pura (1980) by Salvatore Samperi, Talcum Powder (1982), by Carlo Verdone, and Viuulentemente...mia, he received a part in Carlo Vanzina's Time for Loving (1982).
The following year, he was one of the stars in the prototype of Italian “cine-panettone” productions [a type of movie that borrows its name from the panettone, a rich, sweet bread that is traditionally eaten at Christmas in Italy – Translator’s note].
The movie was Vacanze di Natale (1983) directed by Carlo Vanzina and starring Jerry Calà, Stefania Sandrelli, Moana Pozzi, Riccardo Garrone and Claudio Amendola. Other movies directed by Vanzina followed: Vacanze in America (1984), Yuppies - I giovani di successo (1986), Montecarlo Gran Casinò (1987), A spasso nel tempo (1996) and its sequel the next year. Vanzina also directed Vacanze di Natale 2000 (1999).
Other directors featured Christian in many other cine-panettone productions, in particular Neri Parenti – with whom he had been collaborating since I pompieri (1985) - and Enrico Oldoini.
Natale sul Nilo (2002)
Natale in Sud Africa (2010)
In these movies, all of which were produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis, there are two constant figures: Christian playing the role of the cheating husband, a bourgeois, pompous, overbearing and disagreeable Roman; and the comedian Massimo Boldi as the naïve and clumsy Milanese.
“That’s not me in those Christmas-time movies.
It’s a typical Italian who is spineless, deceitful, overbearing and opportunistic. Which I play. Which I make credible, albeit in a funny and farcical manner. And I make fun of him,
it isn’t always the same character, it’s a mask.
I have a bourgeois physique and I play the part of the bourgeois: I certainly couldn’t play the role of the small-time petty thief or a corporal in the Carabinieri. I’m more the dentist type, the architect, an exponent of a higher genre. And I know that when I’m old, I’ll play the top-level lawyer, a general, a cardinal, an aristocrat. Just like my father”
(Quote) De Sica and Boldi established a profitable artistic collaboration that lasted fifteen years, which – year after year - crowned them box office champions in Italy, to the point that, in 2000, they received a Special David di Donatello, “for the regularity with which, every Christmas, they present successful movies,” as well as the Biglietto d’Oro award, which by now has virtually become a tradition. Cine-panettone productions are popular films, blessed by constant and sensational box office success, but snubbed by official film critique, which coined the term “cine-panettone” with derogatory intent.
But in fact, “cine-panettone” has come to define a genre, and over time it has lost its decidedly negative connotation. A number of movie critics praise its take on the grotesque, which at least shields it from self-absolving intents.
Christian and Johnny Depp, The Tourist (2010)
In 2009, De Sica was once again working with the director Pupi Avati in The Youngest Son (2009), returning to a dramatic role after a long hiatus.
In 2010, he also had a part in The Tourist, the second film by the Oscar-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. That same year, with Neri Parenti, he shot Amici miei - Come tutto ebbe inizio and Natale in Sudafrica; the next year, always with Parenti, yet another cine-panettone, Vacanze di Natale a Cortina.
In 2011 he featured in another movie directed by Carlo Vanzina, Buona giornata. In 2012, he was directed by Neri Parenti in Colpi di Fulmine and, later the same year, by Alessandro Siani in Il Principe Abusivo.
Count Max (1991)
Parlami di Me (2006)
A regular in TV fiction, he starred in the first and second series of Lo zio d'America (2002 and 2006) by Rossella Izzo, followed by Attenti a quei tre (2004), in which he acted alongside his son Brando.
Christian De Sica is also a director, first for commercials (Fiat and Telepiù) and then for the silver screen, directing Faccione (1990), followed by the comedies Count Max (1991), a remake of the homonymous movie starring Alberto Sordi and his father; Ricky e Barabba (1992), Men Men Men (1995), Tre (1996), Simpatici & antipatici (1998) and The Clan (2004).
During the 2000 and 2001 theatrical seasons, he staged the musical Un americano a Parigi – Tributo a George Gershwin; in 2007 and 2008, Parlami di me (written by Maurizio Costanzo and Enrico Vaime) which later became a film directed by his son Brando. “At the beginning of my show Parlami di Me I sang the song written by Lelio Luttazzi, Canto anche se sono stonato. I did exactly what I had always dreamed of doing when I would watch my father: look how great he is, who knows if someday I won’t be able to do the same thing. I would watch him, dreaming like a spectator, like a wife watching her husband as he triumphs. Like a son. His”
Maria and Vittorio's wedding (1959)
For many years, Christian De Sica has been nursing a movie project, which for production reasons hasn’t been made yet.
It’s La porta del cielo (The Gate of Heaven) the same title as the 1944 movie directed by his father and featuring his mother; the two fell in love during the filming. A passion which lasted a lifetime.
Christian’s project includes portraying his parents’ love story, and the making of the movie La porta del cielo, when Rome was occupied by German troops and the production became a huge lifeboat for hundreds of Jews and persecuted politicians. “It tells how my father managed to save many Jews from deportation, thanks to a small movie commissioned by priests.
I could say that it’s a sort of Schindler’s List, Amatriciana-style, whose driving motor is the love story between my parents, and the result is an extraordinary, involuntary miracle performed by cinema”(quote)
Christian De Sica has received twenty-three Biglietti d’Oro del Cinema Italiano (a prize which, every year, is awarded to the movies with the highest box office returns); two Biglietti d’Oro for his theatrical production Parlami di me (2008); three David di Donatello (1977, 2000 and 2009); and two Nastri d’argento, for the book Figlio di papà (2009) and for the movie Il figlio più piccolo (2010).