From Waiter to Movie Producer: an Interview with Nicolas Vaporidis

Nicolas Vaporidis by Paolo Sant'Ambrogio

© Paolo Sant’Ambrogio

If you’re from Italy, you won’t need this intro; otherwise, here you go: Nicolas Vaporidis is an Italian mainstream actor who got massively famous in my country in 2006, after shooting Night before the Exams, a film that is actually damn good and has quickly become a cult movie in Italy.

Eleven years later, he is still that kind of super-celeb paparazzi would follow everywhere, but, at the same time, he’s also that kind of guy you’ll never see in a car insurance TV commercial.

Now, a lot of A-list actors invest their money in hybrid cars, villas and Victoria’s Secret Angels, but not this one. After over a decade working in the movies, he launched an independent production business called Drive Production Company and threw in a couple of fellow actors. They produce truly great stuff – you know, that sort of innovative and authentic things no one wants to put money in. If you speak Italian, you must check at least Piove, Segreti and The Chamberlain out.

Nicolas is just three years older than me, we both were born and bred in same old Rome and we both support the same football club, but we won’t be talking about anything like that, because this story begins in London, in a restaurant called Miraggio that used to be based in Fulham Broadway but doesn’t exist anymore.

And oh, just before starting, I would like to send a big thank you to Nicolas’ PR assistant Magda Sembrano, way the most professional and lovely creature ever met in the industry. After all, cool people get attracted to each other, don’t they? 😉

Thank you so much for meeting me, Nicolas!

Have we met before? I must have seen you somewhere.

Maybe in some squatted schools in Rome in the 00s…

Uhm.

As for myself, I have seen you somewhere for sure. At the cinema.

Do you mind if I smoke?

Emh…

OK. Got it.

If you smoke close to that window, I’ll be fine. But let’s start this out. After getting your A-Levels, you first enrolled in a Communications Degree at a university in Rome, but then you left for London. So, my first question is: why London?

I was 18, I had just finished school and wanted some real-life experience. I went for London because I already spoke English well and because it is a place full of opportunities and inspiration. You know, London is a kind of a European New York, and it turned out to be the perfect choice to make for what I was looking for. I started working as a waiter at Miraggio, in Fulham Broadway; sadly, the restaurant has now closed down. I basically took a gap year; I left Rome with just a suitcase and £200 in my pocket, and that’s all. I wanted something different from what I had experienced in school. But I was not running away.

Lucky you. I spent my whole life running away. Did you move to London alone?

I did. Then, a very good friend of mine joined. We shared the same bed for months, we’ve just like brothers now. As for him, he stayed in London, got married and has a daughter now. I still visit London many times a year; London is still a part of me.

And then you returned to Italy and became an actor.

After about a year in London, I returned to Italy and enrolled in a drama school. Later I got an agent, I started doing auditions and it all began from there. But it wasn’t easy life; I went on making movies but nothing changed for a long time. When I said I was an actor, people would ask me what restaurant I was working for… and they were right; I was working as a waiter in Rome as well in order to support my acting career. Then I made Night Before the Exams and suddenly everything changed.

What waiter skills have you put in use in the movie industry?

Problem-solving. Definitely. Both in a restaurant and on a movie set you cannot plan ahead and must be prepared to deal with the unexpected. I developed a strong ability to face issues and solve problems quickly.

What was your dream job as a child?

I had no idea… I wanted to do so many different things, I just kept changing my mind all the time… I wanted to become an astronaut, then a gardener and then I wanted to become the man in charge of installing gas cylinders. I wasn’t definitely born with that big dream of becoming an actor; everything I knew was that I loved the Arts and I loved to tell stories. I’m definitely someone who loves to create something, whether it is a novel, a script or a movie; I am a storyteller, I am passionate about telling stories that inspire people.

I’ve seen a creepy interview on YouTube where a lady asks if you workout and you answer that you go to the gym but you don’t play team sports. So I wonder if you have ever played football, and –  if you haven’t – I also wonder where you do get your team spirit from. Does it make sense?

I’ve mostly played solo sports in my life, such as tennis, horse riding, skiing, boxing, tennis. I don’t really conceive team sports… to play a sport for me is a way to overcome my own limits, to challenge myself. But this doesn’t apply to work at all, since you can’t make a movie on your own, and team spirit is crucial in what I do. Anyway, to answer your question, no, I don’t play football.

But you do support AS Roma football club, I hope.

Sure. Even the dog supports AS Roma here.

Wonderful. I was also wondering how it does feel to get interviewed all the time about your private life and not about your job. Does it piss you off?

Well, it’s all part of the game. My private life is not a secret, but I simply don’t talk about that; you learn how to manage the topic by not talking about it. You learn how not to lose your temper, you understand that this is how things work and you don’t take it personally. Plus, I don’t think an actor should be talking about their life that much.

A lot of actors actually use their private life to be in the spotlight…

This is not my case. I don’t sell myself in any way. I don’t make crap films, I don’t do films I wouldn’t watch myself. I choose my scripts and I choose the projects I want to focus on. I exclusively do things that genuinely interest me. With me, what you see is what you get.

And with this sentence you made my day. Thank you, Nicolas ❤

Nicolas Vaporidis by Andrea Massari

© Andrea Massari

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