The Italian Almanac

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Raul Bova

Stereotypes

TV and movie star Raoul Bova struggled to avoid typecasting as a soccer and sex-obsessed Italian stallion during a recent stint in Hollywood, the actor revealed. Speaking at a festival screening his latest venture, a TV mini-series charting the rise of the CIA, the 37-year-old discussed the difficulties he encountered living in the world's movie capital.

''In the US you often find yourself playing parts linked to stereotypes, like the role I had in What About Brian?,'' he said, referring to a US sitcom in which he played an ex-model. ''It is the role of the good-looking, vain Italian, who thinks of nothing but soccer and chasing women''. The actor also described Hollywood as ''a scary place''. ''I went there to explore my potential and it was a good test for me. But it is too big and too fast - you're here today and gone tomorrow. When you're in Hollywood you have to be careful not to rely on appearance but instead count on who you really are inside''.

Bova made his comments during the course of a festival devoted to TV fiction, which included sections of The Company, a critically acclaimed three-part series he acted in that was aired in the US last summer. Directed by Mikael Solomon, the six-hour series was based on a blockbuster book by US spy novelist Robert Littell and also starred Chris O'Donnell, Alfred Molina and Michael Keaton.

For Bova, The Company is part of an ongoing effort to break typecasting based on his classic Latin good looks and receive more serious attention. Although he won public and critical acclaim for his performance in Ferzan Ozpetek's 2003 romantic drama, Facing Windows, he is still widely considered a sexy TV hunk rather than a great actor. After appearing in a series of Italian TV and big-screen action films, he made his Hollywood debut in 2001 with a Mafia revenge movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Avenging Angelo.

He became a household name in the US five years ago thanks to his part in Under The Tuscan Sun, an adaptation of the bestseller by Frances Mayes. Many Americans also remember him for the 1999 Max Factor commercial he appeared in with Madonna. More recently, he has become a familiar face with US audiences after co-starring in What About Brian?, in which he plays Angelo, an Italian model-turned-psychologist, married to an older woman.