Paolo Rotondo plays Tim, a disturbed young man who insists on looking after Julie in her hour of need...
Ask Italian-born actor Paolo Rotondo to describe his character on The Insiders Guide to Happiness and, not surprisingly, he comes up with a very apt, but very Italian metaphor:
"My character is all dressed up with nowhere to go," he says. "Tim is like the mental equivalent of driving a Ferrari around in rush hour traffic &just sitting in the traffic with all this power under the bonnet."
"Tim is very lonely. He's on the fringe of society, and desperately needs to feel part of it. So he sees the way the world operates, and acts like he's the consummate normal, nice, caring guy by having all the right manners and the right clothes. But underneath it all he has some psychological issues. Tim has a twisted sense of relationships and connections&he's got his wires very crossed about relationships and about family."
Playing a character with such a degree of mental instability holds fascinating appeal for Paolo, who also won rave reviews for his portrayal of the psychotic Simon in Scott Reynolds' debut feature 'The Ugly'.
"What I love about it is that you get to go and have a look inside a mind that's not your own," he explains. "And what I particularly enjoyed about the Insiders Guide scripts was the slow build. Tim's very, very calm when he's calm. And he's very, very, upset when he's upset. But the trigger between the two is really small, so he's like a live wire."
Even so, there were certain things he had to do as Tim that rather disturbed Paolo's own sensibilities: "Being really aggressive to Sophia [Sophia Hawthorne who plays Julie] was really hard. It's hard to be really threatening to Sophia because she's very open and very gentle. And her character's pregnant! Threatening a pregnant woman, that's hard!"
Despite mixing in the same Auckland theatre circles, Paolo had never worked Sophia before, but very much enjoyed the experience: "Sophia's got a beautiful, mysterious quality about her. You can be good as an actor but those kind of qualities come with the kind of person you are."
And finally, when it comes to describing The Insiders Guide to Happiness in 15 words or less, Paolo's answers again sounds positively Italian: "It's a rambling story, with a variety of different storylines, involving black comedy, high humour and drama," he says. "Which means it's incredibly complex and simple at the same time."
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