The Young Montalbano: Reinterpreting the detective

Friday 4 October 2013, 10:29

Michele Riondino Michele Riondino Actor

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Accepting the offer to play Salvo Montalbano in The Young Montalbano all happened when I was on the set of We Believed.

I played a soldier from Garibaldi’s army and I had a very scruffy look: unkempt beard, matted hair, mud stains on my face.

The film producer was Carlo Degli Esposti, the same producer of Inspector Montalbano, who seeing me in that state had, as he puts it, an intuition.

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A rocky start for Montalbano (Michele Riondino) and his deputy, Mimi Augello (Alessio Vassallo)

No one knew he was looking for a little-known actor up to the challenge to take on the role of the detective at a younger age. 

No one knew that among his projects lay that of shooting the prequel of the iconic character, based on the very first novels by Andrea Camilleri.

A few days later I received a phone call from my agent who told me about a phone conversation with Degli Esposti and how he had been impressed by my look.

He told me that Carlo had in mind having young Montalbano as somewhat of a Che Guevara and that my red shirt soldier had convinced him I could be him.

I was extremely flattered by the proposal but I didn’t accept immediately. It took me several months before I managed to convince myself.

Montalbano was always Luca Zingaretti. Anyone in Italy and abroad thinks of him when picturing the character.

Needless to say he always interpreted Montalbano perfectly, giving back all the complexities of his personality.

Salvo Montalbano isn’t a simple character, many ambiguities distinguish him.

He really loves women but always ends up running from them, they make him uneasy and insecure.

Livia Burlando (SARAH FELDERBAUM), Salvo Montalbano (MICHELE RIONDINO) Livia (Sarah Felderbaum) starts dating Salvo after they meet through one of his investigations

All the while he is a stable and tenacious person, and stubborn, just like the typical Sicilian stereotype. He finds it extremely difficult to respect hierarchies, particularly men having more important roles than him.

Yet he is an impeccable detective, who learned everything from his inspector, who gave him all the necessary tools to be an incredible cop.

He also has a tendency to stand up and take care of the weaker, even if they were to go against a law that in some instances to him, was arguable.

Basically Montalbano isn’t just a policeman, but he also is a citizen, a defender of the polis, of the civil life.

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Montalbano suspects a notice board stolen from the town hall spells trouble for an engaged couple
 

I feared some sort of media attack, since changing the face of the detective was almost blasphemy to some.

So I raised two requests: the first was to meet and discuss the idea with Andrea Camilleri, the second was to have my own freedom regarding the use of the dialect, meaning I wanted to feel free to not worry about the “understandability” of some terms.

In the novels, the Sicilian used is a very archaic dialect, a mix coming from various places in Sicily. I was keen to keep it as it was, after all the books didn’t provide notes or explanations either.

The production accepted, Andrea was happy to meet and approve me, and he kept me talking about the character for hours. I listened and stole as much information as possible.

It isn’t every day an actor gets to talk about the character with the person that created him. In other words, I accepted the challenge.

The desire to do as well as Zingaretti and his team gave our whole team a particular energy that accompanied us for the whole six months of production.

Michele Riondino plays Salvo Montalbano in The Young Montalbano.

The Young Montalbano continues on Saturday, 5 October at 9pm on BBC Four. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

More on The Young Montalbano
The Independent: The Weekend's Viewing: Subtitles should stop no one warming to this compelling Italian
Metro: The prequel to Inspector Montalbano is a treat for fans of European drama
Mrs Peabody Investigates: The Young Montalbano is on his way...

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC. 

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Comments

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 21.

    Wey! Hey! Just read on Wiki that the producer confirmed they are about to start filming the second series around now! Hope it goes ahead! When BBC - when...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 22.

    Absolutely brilliant! And, Catarella, he has the original [older man] off pat, they could be the same person.

    My Italian is also coming on a treat.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 23.

    I have to agree with previous comments, an absolutely fabulous series. Loved the 'old' Montalbano and was sceptical but needn't have worried, the 'young' Montalbano is every bit as good. Fantastic acting, superb plots, scenery etc. Saturday nights won't be the same - the new series can't come soon enough!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    fabuloso. more more more please

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 25.

    Like others, I love this series. I love the "older" Montalbano but this is very good indeed: the actors are all good, the acting excellent - Michele Riondino gives real depth to his character - and the whole thing is a Saturday night treat. I can't wait for the second series.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    Hello, I'm a researcher on the TV blog. Thank you all for your comments! Although this Saturday's episode is the last of The Young Montalbano series, there is still plenty of Sicilian crime drama at the same time next week on BBC Four with brand new episodes of the original Inspector Montalbano with Luca Zingaretti. Series three starts with Angelica's Smile at 9pm on Saturday 19 October. Further programme times are available on the episode guide.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 27.

    Love the show and Saturday nights at nine is a great time to show it.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 28.

    Love this series! Hope there are more episodes in the future.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 29.

    I agree with Russ above. Saturday nights won't be the same without the Young Montalbano:)! Please, please make another series!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Just a word here to complement both actors who are taking care of my favourite character - Catarella.

    I was really worried that the younger version would not be so engagingly unhinged as the original - but i needn't have worried - they are both excellent.

    I;d have to agree with the previous comment about the improved Italian comprehension as a result of being glued to this too - good point.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 31.

    Absolutely wonderful series. Had doubts about the Young Montalbano but all unfounded. It was as great as the original series. Great acting from all the cast and especially Michele Riondino. All the casting was superb. Still want to see more Montalbano, young or old. Luca Zingaretti is mm....... Love!!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 32.

    I've never watched the original series but will certainly do so now. A wonderful, steady-paced series with beautiful settings and a very, very handsome leading man. Perfect!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    I've never seen the original series, but this is totally brilliant. Great stories, well acted, interesting characters, plots, and the settings are a travelogue!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 34.

    Fantastic :-) I have a soft spot for Riondino, I hope I don't upset anyone but I much prefer him to Zingaretti. One little criticism: the English subtitles!! I am half Sicilian and have grown up listening and learning the Sicilian dialect (from the Trapani province) and it's such a shame to read the translations. So much 'colour' has got lost! It's a real shame as it's not just a tv series, it carries a lot of humour and history in its language, which evidently gets ignored by the translators who concentrate on the flowing of the words with the events. Camilleri is a top writer and his books are little masterpieces. It's such a huge shame, it would be perfect if some of the dialect slang could be reproduced for the English speaking public. If they love it now they would love it even more with a proper translation.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 35.

    As others have stated, having watched all the previous episodes of the original series and loved them, I really didn't know what to expect this time. However, having got over the surprise of different music and the different actors I have loved this series just as much. The only thing I found myself listening for was the occasional cry of an eagle/vulture(?) which had a habit of being heard quite frequently in the original series. Incidentally, I have all 18 episodes of the previous series which I plan to watch again at some future date! Please BBC, twist someones arm and get some more made. For the first time in years it's been worthwhile staying in on a Saturday night.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 36.

    Wasn't sure at first but now I'm a committed fan! All of the characters are totally believable without becoming a pastiche of the originals, and the stories have been great viewing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 37.

    I never watched the original series, but have become hooked on this one. I'll have to tune in next week now and see where it all began ...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 38.

    I thought that Luca Zingaretti would be a hard act to follow but Michele Riondinn simply nailed it! Am absolutely loving him...perfect casting and he's just perfect in every way! Gutted that tonight was his last .... For the time being, I hope!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    Love the series, both 'young' and 'old': Interesting, multi-layered stories, beautiful scenery, tempting food, vivid, credible characters, lovely music!
    I am glad that the series continues with Luca but hope that we will have more episodes of young Montalbano with Michele.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 40.

    Absolutely besotted with both series now - and am also looking forward to reading the most recent Montalbano novel. Overjoyed that Salvo the Elder will be with us next week. Commentator Irene Casottana-Greenslade: you should contact the subtitle people and offer to help them sort out the subtitles - I don't want to miss a thing!

 

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