‘The Great Beauty’ Actor Toni Servillo to Star in Drama About ‘Last Godfather’ Matteo Messina Denaro by ‘Sicilian Ghost Story’ Directors

Toni Servillo, who played Roman socialite Jep Gambardella in Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning “The Great Beauty,” will star in a drama about Cosa Nostra boss Matteo Messina Denaro, dubbed “the last godfather” directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza (“Sicilian Ghost Story”).

Also starring in the hotly-anticipated drama titled “Iddu” – which means “Him” in Sicilian dialect – is Italian A-list actor Elio Germano, winner of a Cannes best actor prize for Daniele Luchetti’s “Our Life” in 2010 and more recently of Italy’s 2021 David di Donatello Award for Giorgio Diritti’s “Hidden Away.”

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The roles respectively being played by Servillo and Elio Germano are being kept under wraps.

After being on the run for three decades, Messina Denaro was arrested in mid-January 2023 outside an upscale medical facility in Palermo, where he had been undergoing cancer treatment for a year under false identity. The top mafioso, convicted of masterminding some of Italy’s most heinous slayings – including the killings of prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino,and the grisly murder of a Mafia turncoat’s young son, who was strangled before his body was dissolved in a vat of acid – subsequently died last September in a maximum-security prison.

“Iddu” marks Grassadonia and Piazza’s third feature after “Salvo,” about a Mafia hitman who falls in love with his target’s blind sister, and “Sicilian Ghost Story,” another non-conventional Mafia pic that mixed fairlytale tropes with the harsh reality of a mob kidnapping. “Sicilian Ghost Story” opened the Cannes Critics’ Week in 2017 and was released by Strand Releasing in the U.S. after winning Italy’s David di Donatello award for top adapted script in 2018.

“In the rich Italian criminal history, Matteo Messina Denaro and his 30 years of hiding are unique,” the directors said in a statement. “What has emerged over the years from investigations and news reports has given us the opportunity to delve into his enigmatic personality and shed light on the varied system of relationships that his invisible presence nurtured.”

They continued, “In our film, the fugitive is the center of a whirlwind dance of characters who, in the sleep of reason, chase dreams that always end up turning into nightmares. Tragic and ridiculous nightmares.”

The “Iddu” cast also comprises Daniela Marra (“Exterior, Night”), Barbora Bobulova (“A Brighter Tomorrow”) and Tommaso Ragno (“Nostalgia”). The cinematographer is Sorrentino collaborator Luca Bigazzi.

“Iddu,” which is currently in post, is an Italy-France co-production led by Indigo Film with RAI Cinema for Italy and Les Films du Losange for France, with the support from the Lazio Region Regional Cinema and Audiovisual Fund.

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Servillo will play Matteo Messina Denaro. His role is being kept under wraps.

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