Why Giovanni Ribisi Never Intended to Do a Show Like ‘Sneaky Pete’ and When He Finally Decided to “Chase Being an Actor”

Actor Giovanni Ribisi

“A friend of mine introduced me to the Actors Studio and Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro and Gary Oldman. It really was a revolution for me.” – Giovanni Ribisi

Though many people probably recognize Giovanni Ribisi for playing Phoebe’s dimwitted brother on Friends, Ribisi has had a long career filled with many memorable roles. However, in an interview with Vulture he reveals that his latest project, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, is one that he said he would never take on, and he relates that to how his approach to acting has changed over the years.

Ribisi admits he was initially predisposed against doing an hour-long drama. He says, “My agent reached out to me and said that there’s this script, it’s Sneaky Pete, Bryan Cranston is doing it. David Shore was the showrunner at the time when the show was originally at CBS. I don’t know if you know that — we were originally with CBS. I went in and looked at something I’d made this promise to myself that I would never do, hour-long episodic television for networks. That was just my thing because I’d heard that was the toughest job for any actor.”

Why is that? He confesses, “The hours and also the length of time. You go, I think, ten months and it’s kind of like you go into a hole.”

Ribisi grew up as a child actor on television, but he points out that his approach to acting has “changed drastically” over the past three decades. He says, “I’m definitely not the same actor that I was when I was 9 years old, and that’s because my intentions, my goals, aspirations, or whatever were different. I grew up in the ’70s and in Los Angeles during the new blockbuster era. Star Wars was the first film that I saw in the movie theater. I wanted to be an actor, then it turned out to be this Wizard of Oz story: I was 10 or 11 years old and it turned into something that I didn’t think it was. Then puberty hits and everything’s embarrassing and you’re going out in front of an audience, so I got really into music for several years until a friend of mine introduced me to the Actors Studio and Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro and Gary Oldman. It really was a revolution for me. That’s when I really decided that I wanted to chase being an actor.”

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