You’re from Tuscany. What is the most Italian thing about you?
I talk with my hands a lot — that’s the most distinctive thing.
Describe your character in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
He’s a rich motherfucker. And a trophy husband: He thinks that he is the brains of the operation, but he’s actually just the walking wallet. Elizabeth [Debicki] and I play the villain couple. She doesn’t have a lot of patience for my bullshit but she’s like, “At least he’s good looking.” It’s always fun to play bad guys, especially these two — they’re like the evil Beckhams.
You famously won the Italian version of Survivor. How did you do it?
I survived on an island for eight and a half weeks on a diet of coconut and fish. There was definitely a lot of acting involved.
All fish and no pasta?
Once we won a challenge and they fed us lasagna.
What was your first job?
Driving my dad’s truck around northern Italy to deliver textiles. It had no stereo, so I would sing to keep myself awake.
What do you consider to be your big break?
At this point, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. feels like a game changer — it has changed the trajectory of my career.
I first noticed you in that classic episode of Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw attempts to model, trips in her stilettos and ends up as “runway roadkill.”
Alan Cumming and I played fashion designers. We called ourselves Dolce and Gabbana even though we didn’t resemble them at all. I was the one of the few men on Sex and the City who: A.) Does not sleep with Samantha; and B.) Does not get naked.
Ironically, you used to model for Giorgio Armani.
He’s the guy who gave me a shot on the runway. I was nineteen at the time, and I remember meeting this icon, this legend. That year, he was turning 60. This year, he turned 80, so it was exactly 20 years ago.
What kind of advice does Mr. Armani give his models before the show?
I was the youngest one — and the only Italian. He told me: “Be proud and walk with confidence. You’re Italian.” Then he slapped me. I have been walking with confidence ever since.