Ribisi wanted to live
By LOUIS B. HOBSON Calgary Sun March 29, 1999
Hanks was able to save Private Ryan, but he couldn't do the same for Giovanni Ribisi.
In Saving Private Ryan, Ribisi played the first young soldier in Hanks' platoon to die.
"I kept pleading with Steven Spielberg to let me live, but he wouldn't hear of it," recalls Ribisi, whose screen death certainly didn't keep him from working.
He immediately began filming The Other Sister, The Mod Squad and the new Ben Affleck/Matt Damon film The Boiler Room, which Ribisi describes as Wall Street on crack cocaine.
At 24, Ribisi is actually a veteran.
He was making commercials when he was eight and, the following year, he played a cancer patient on Highway to Heaven.
"I thought that was really cool because I got to shave my head. After that, I did quite a bit of TV until I ended up on My Two Dads for a couple of years. I played Staci Keanan's boyfriend, but I was going under the name Vonni Ribisi back then."
Ribisi also played the lightning boy on an episode of The X Files and had a recurring role on Friends as Phoebe's brother.
"I spent seven years doing TV until my agent and acting teacher told me I'd better quit and try to do feature films instead. I took their advice. My first film was a Showtime movie that was shot in Bulgaria called The Mindripper.
"It was a horrible science-fiction horror film. It's a wonder anyone hired me after that."
By this time, Ribisi was 18 and a hot young actor in Hollywood.
"I'm not proud of how I handled myself. I was a real little slut. I spent my whole time chasing women. Fortunately, I met a girl (actress Marian O'Brien) who opened my eyes. We started dating properly, got married and now we have an 18-month-old daughter."