Giannini will play Marcello, the owner of a Rome brothel who is “weathered and once handsome but still debonair,” according to a statement issued by producers of the six-part adaptation of Joseph Heller’s anti-war classic. The series is scheduled to air in 2019 on Hulu in the U.S.
Best known for his exuberant roles in 1970s Lina Wertmüller films, Giannini has since been active in prominent Italian and international productions such as Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal” and James Bond installments “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” in which he played MI-6 operative and Bond ally Rene Mathis.
Giannini is the only Italian talent announced so far in the “Catch-22” cast, though about 300 Sardinian extras were recently recruited for scenes involving military activity on the Italian island, where Clooney – who is co-directing as well as starring and producing – has set up camp in a villa on its Emerald Coast, according to Italian press reports.
Earlier this month, pay-TV operator Sky Italia joined Paramount Television, Anonymous Content, and Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures as a “Catch-22” co-producer. The hotly anticipated show that will be almost entirely shot in Italy marks Clooney’s first regular TV role since NBC’s “ER.” Britain’s Channel 4 has U.K. rights.
Set in Italy during World War II, the show centers on Capt. John Yossarian (to be played by Christopher Abbott, as previously announced), a U.S. Air Force bombardier who, while trying to complete the number of flight missions required to go home, must contend with an absurd bureaucratic rule.
Hugh Laurie will play squadron officer Major de Coverley, and Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”) will play Colonel Cathcart. Clooney has taken a relatively small role as training commander Scheisskopf, in order to focus on his duties behind the camera.