Giovanni Lombardo Radice is one heck of a name, however I soon discovered that this Italian star much prefers it if you simply call him, Johnny. Of course, you may recognize the stage name, John Morghen more easily from seeing Johnny in films like City of the Living Dead and Cannibal Holocaust. Which leads us neatly to two other important details you should know about Johnny; one, that he certainly knows how to die in all his gory, and two he actually hates watching horror films. Go figure, but it's true. Johnny rarely watches his own films, or horror films in general. Toss on a DVD of Vivien Leigh or a damned good thriller and then Johnny's your man. Not bad for a man who has been dubbed the "Nastiest Man on Earth" on sites like Wikipedia.
There are two other things you should know about Johnny. One that he has an extremely dry sense of humour; witness the layout of his Official Website; the good side is, of course, in Italian while the horror side is produced in English!!! Johnny is incredibly talented and highly literate, often working as a stage actor or as a screenwriter. Hardly surprising given that he was raised in a Roman family with noble antecedents. Rather more unsurprisingly, Johnny's parents were horrified by his growing status as a cult film star. Maybe someone might have mentioned to them that Dracula had been a Count and Frankenstein had been a Baron. Perhaps a penchant for horror had been boiling in his blood all along!!! And the film, Cannibal Ferox, dubbed the most violent film of all time appears to support this fact, though to be fair to Johnny, he would later confess that he wished he had never taken on the role of Mike Logan. The film was released in London in 1981 and consequently banned. The film was also banned or censored in numerous other countries. During the intervening years the bans have disappeared as the shock of shlock gradually dissipates in life's continual attempts to outdo film in the horror stakes.
Johnny will always be highly regarded for his work with directors like the late Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Ruggero Deodato. The latter director's film, The House on the Edge of the Park, also featured David Hess a fellow traveller along film's bloodied road. Now, twenty-eight years later, David and Johnny have teamed up again for the Andrew Jones, Indie flick, The Beautiful Outsiders, starring Tara Reid and Brad Dourif. This will be the third film in succession where Johnny has been able to work in his favourite thriller/crime genre; without a crazed zombie in sight.
Along the way, Johnny has managed to work with an amazing group of actors from all parts of the globe ranging from Emilia Fox and Jane Alexander to John Saxon and Terence Hill. Or actors like Jack Hedley (who dubbed a parrot in James Bond) and Michele Placido of La Piovra fame, Herbert Lom (Pink Panther) and Polish beauty, Joanna Pacula or the ultimate screen villain, Donald Pleasance. Johnny even got to watch Anthony Quinn playing Long John Silver, up close and personal in the 1987 mini-series, Isola del Tesoro, which I'm still unable to locate anywhere. In the very same year, Johnny also made a rare comedy with legendary countryman, Marcello Mastroianni called I Soliti Ignoti Vent'anni Dopo. So rare in fact that I think it is the only one (to date!!!)
I recently caught up with Johnny, in the ethers of cyberspace, to ask him a few questions about his blood curdling career and discovered a thoroughly charming gentleman as you will soon find out. You too can catch up with Johnny at his website: http://www.giovannilombardoradice.com and don't forget to check out his horror side!!!
David: How did it come about that you became involved in the horror genre despite your not liking horror films?
Giovanni: Because actors are beggars and not choosers. I was young, badly in need of money and I was offered my first movie role, which happened to be HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. From there on, for some years, they kept offering me roles in horror movies. I never saw a good reason to say no. Even if they weren't my cup of tea they were good experience, some money and a great occasion to travel around the world.
David: Do you recall when you signed your first autograph?
Giovanni: Not really, but I guess it was whilst performing on stage.
David: What is the strangest or most bizarre moment you’ve ever encountered on a film set?
Giovanni: I was very embarrassed on HOUSE ON THE EDGE when I had to try to rape Lorraine De Selle. She kept asking me to cover her tits with my body and Ruggero kept yelling me to move away.
David: Have you ever played a practical joke on a costar or director, or had them play one on you?
Giovanni: I played a joke on a production assistant and this was whilst shooting CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE. It was one of the first scenes in the movie, when the Viet Cong feed me and Tony King with some very suspicious kind of meat (most probably human flesh). I noticed that instead of being the usual cheap and almost rotten meat generally used in the movies for these scenes, it was a wonderful cut of filet. This made me suspicious and, when the day was over, I saw the production assistant carefully wrapping it and take it away. The poor fellow was having his cannibal dinner on the production. So, the next day, with another juicy filet, I hid the meat before he could grab it and had a lot of fun watching him searching for it everywhere. A joke that was pulled on me was when director Duccio Tessari purposely didn't say stop during a passionate kiss in between me and the leading lady (it was a romantic TV mini series). He wanted to see my reaction and I didn't disappoint him, because I started to undress and stopped only when I got to my underwear and the whole crew went mad with laughter.
David: Of the thirty plus movies you have made so far, which one remains your favourite and which movie do you think represents your finest moments as an actor?
Giovanni: As for the horrors or thrillers my favourites are HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK and CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, because my roles were interesting and I think I did quite a good job with them. On TV I enjoyed enormously the role of King Herod in the Saint Paul episode of the Bible series.
David: Do you collect movie memorabilia or autographs? If so can you share some of your favourite ones with our readers?
Giovanni: No sorry, I am not a collector. I have a night robe and slippers I wore as King Herod and that's it.
David: If any person in history could sign their photo for you, which person would you ask and what would you like them to say in their dedication?
Giovanni: If Vivien Leigh was alive I would ask her for an autograph saying "To my ideal Ashley".
David: have you ever had any problems with a fan or an autograph seeker?
Giovanni: No, not really. They've always been very nice. The most persistent was an American guy, who was visiting Rome and had seen my name in a theatre poster, when I was directing something or other. I was in the middle of rehearsals, but he refused to move, until I agreed to meet him in the lobby and have a picture taken with him, with me pretending to bite his neck.
David: Could you share with use your all time favourite film, song and book title?
Giovanni: Gone with the Wind, My Way and Anna Karenina.
David: What makes you laugh (or perhaps even cry) the most in life?
Giovanni: I laugh at pompous people trying to appear cultivated or acting snobbishly, I cry for mistreated children or old people.
David: Can you share a funny story with us from your life beyond the camera lens?
Giovanni: Sorry, nothing in mind at the moment.
David: If you had to describe your life as an actor to a stranger, how would you summarize yourself?
Giovanni: A serious professional always trying to do his best even with nonsense horror scripts.
David: In closing, is there a story or incident from your life that tells us something different about
Giovanni Lombardo Radice, from the amazing characters we see you portray on the big screen?
Giovanni: I am totally different from what you see in the movies. I can't stand to see a woman mistreated, for example and I've gotten myself into trouble once or twice defending one. Not the typical raper attitude I would say...
(c) David Priol 2008
Photos Copyright to their various owners