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Italian Actor Riccardo Scamarcio Would Rather Produce

Think of heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio as the Matt Damon or George Clooney of Italian actors — one who isn’t averse to taking time out of his shooting schedule to take on production duties for a project he’s passionate about making.

In fact, Scamarcio, who plays a mad Italian chef alongside Bradley Cooper in the upcoming untitled John Wells project being produced by Harvey Weinstein, has rather embraced switching hats, and his batting average isn’t bad. Euthanasia-themed “Honey” (Miele), the directorial debut of his companion, actress Valeria Golino, was sold widely by Paris-based Cite Films, including to Emerging Pictures in the U.S., where it earned positive reviews last year. “The Obscene Life,” a sex, drugs and solitude drama by Renato De Maria, which Scamarcio co-produced, debuted at last year’s Venice Film Festival. And experimental docu “L’Uomo doppio,” by Italian visual artist Cosimo Terlizzi, bowed at the Turin fest. Now Scamarcio is shepherding Terlizzi’s next project, “Day.”

“With Miele, which was really my initiation, I had a constant, very concrete role as a producer, to the point where I had to interrupt my acting activity,” Scamarcio says. “There was a bit of a gap, and I suffered a lot because of it. But I understood a lot of things about the mechanisms of the film industry in Italy and Europe, and I realized that I like the challenge.”

Next in the pipeline of his Buena Onda shingle, co-founded in 2008 with Golino and Viola Prestieri (“The Great Beauty”), is “Pericle il Nero” (“Pericles the Black Man”), based on the eponymous Italo cult novel by Giuseppe Ferrandino, published in France by Gallimard’s Noir imprint.

It’s a long-gestating pic that Abel Ferrara had been attached to direct in 2007. After Ferrara fell out, Scamarcio pursued the book rights. Now the film is on track to shoot this year, with Stefano Mordini (2012 teen drama “Steel”) set to helm. Scamarcio will play Pericles, a hitman who, after meeting a woman, gains the self-awareness to try to gain his freedom from the mob world. The book’s Italo setting is being transposed to Brussels. Buena Onda is producing along with RAI Cinema and French and Belgian partners.

“As an actor, I can make movies that are mere entertainment,” says Scamarcio, whose career was launched by hit teen romancer “Three Steps Over Heaven.” “But as a producer, frankly, at the moment, I’m not interested in that.”

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