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Ribisi Rising
By Sandra Schulman Dish Magazine July, 2000

He doesn't have a movie star name. He doesn't have a movie star face. But ask character actor Giovanni Ribisi, who has roles in two of the slickest -and most successful -movies of the year, if he cares.

"For me, acting is all about the aesthetic," he says. "I just want to keep honing my craft. Not that I'm taking myself too seriously, but every artist should consider himself Picasso. Otherwise, you're doing yourself an injustice."
Like his idol Marlon Brando (" The only true reason to become an actor," he says) Ribisi is quickly earning a reputation for delivering powerful, intense performances, including his portrait of Medic Wade in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed "Saving Private Ryan", "The Mod Squad" opposite Claire Danes, this year's "The Boiler Room" with Ben Affleck, and his current hit "Gone In 60 Seconds" with Nicholas Cage. "Gone" has become a summer box office smash with its knuckle-biting car theft and chase scenes. Ribisi plays the younger brother of Cage, who messes up his big heist and must call on Cage to bail him out. Born Antonio Giovanni Ribisi on March 31, 1976 in Los Angeles, his career started early when he was cast in "My Two Dads" at the age of 11. He had a recurring role as Frank Junior, the goofy half-brother of Lisa Kudrow's Phoebe, on the hit NBC sitcom Friends. With his pale skin, high forehead and too-red lips, Ribisi looks like an actor from a twenties silent melodrama, or a Fassbinder period piece. He comes across as bright, jumpy and motor-mouthed. His voice is a high-octane whine, spit-drenched and drawling like a white gangsta rapper. As the one who needs constant help in most of his roles, Ribisi is a lost boy, who trembles, or perhaps thrashes, on the verge of adulthood.

In real life he is married to the stunning actress Mariah O'Brien, and has a daughter, Lucia, born in 1997 (named after Donizetti's opera "Lucia Di Lammermoor") He has won awards like the "1999 ShoWest Newcomer of the Year Award" and a "SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast" - shared with the cast of "Saving Private Ryan". Since childhood, Ribisi and his parents have been members of the controversial Scientology group. About his beliefs he says, "My whole deal is that it works. I am what I am and I study what I study. We were brought up to be independent with the viewpoint or the philosophy that we'll have to be responsible for ourselves one day." With a multitude of fan web sites and a steamroller parade of movie roles, Ribisi is, as Brando would say, a "contendah!"

Source: dish magazine