Interview

ICYMI: Gilles Marini Interview

Credit: JPI

TED TALK

Gilles Marini traces his path from French baker
to Salem legal eagle

 

Growing up in the south of France, Gilles Marini spent a lot of time in his family’s bakery, which set him on the path that guided the rest of his life. “My entire childhood was working,” he says. “I don’t remember much more than that. An early morning, then going to school, then coming back, and then cleaning up the bakery. I barely even remember when I started, I was so young. My father gave me the gift of knowing that working hard is absolutely a normal thing. That really helped me out a lot when it came down to the completion of my goals to become an actor. It’s a very difficult job to be successful at, so I think I owe my father quite a bit.”

Though Grasse is known for being the perfume capital of the world, “I grew up in a place that was a little edgy, especially in the mid-’80s to mid-’90s, so it was kind of a difficult time,” he relays. “I became more street-wise then anything else. I think that’s helped me a lot in my life when it comes down to navigating around the world.”

When he turned 16, Marini moved into his own place. “I was really the only one in the neighborhood who actually decided to live alone, buy my first motorcycle, my first scooter, my first car, all with my own money,” he recalls. His solo pad made him very popular in the neighborhood. “The 18- and 20-year-olds were like, ‘Hey, dude, please, can you give me your apartment?’ and they were giving me their motorcycle to run around with in exchange. I knew how to cook, obviously, because I was a baker, so I never really was deprived of food. But living alone was a great experience for me. I always felt I was an old soul. I feel like when you grow up a little bit more in the streets, and you have to work to survive and to make things happen, you grow up faster.”

At 18, Marini headed to Paris to become a firefighter with the Paris Fire Brigade. “My father wanted me to do something special before he passed away,” he explains. “I was lucky to be able to be accepted in the Brigade of the firefighters in Paris. I had to test first, because firefighters in Paris are the Special Forces, in a way, so it was very difficult to get in. I did my service and then when I came back home, my father passed away. I had to take care of the bakery for a little bit.”

Marini then decided to cross the Atlantic to start a new chapter. “I never came to America saying, ‘I’m gonna be an actor,’ ” he notes. “I stayed very quiet and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before I said I wanted to do this. When I came to America, I felt like America is the place where if you really put yourself into the desire of doing something special with your life, it’s possible that you can reach your goals.” His drive, he believes, came from losing his father so young. “I think it’s because my dad passed at such an early age — he was 44 — I feel like, ‘Oh, my God, is that my fate? Is this what’s going to happen to me?’ Maybe yes, maybe no, because I take risks all the time. I believe when I go I’ll have no regrets because I did as much as I could as fast as I could with the people that I love. I think everybody should live their lives that way. No regrets.”

Marini moved to Miami, where he began modeling while working at the Delano hotel. A chance encounter with a Hollywood star ultimately sent him to Tinseltown. “I met Will Smith there. He was training for Ali, and he was an absolute sweetheart, very human,” Marini shares. “I was making his protein shake and waiting on him and he made me feel so normal. Once or twice I said, ‘This is an incredible thing you do in your life. You make people feel so happy by just watching your film. This is really a thing that I would love to do one day.’ He said everything really happens in Los Angeles, and that really stuck in my brain.”

In 2002, the Marinis headed west, where he continued modeling while taking acting classes. “I was doing a lot of national commercials and catalogue and modeling stuff. I knew how to live very small, and little by little things happened.”

His big break came in the film Sex and the City, where he played Samantha’s sexy neighbor, then he was cast on the critically-acclaimed ABC series BROTHERS & SISTERS, a job that holds a very special place in his heart to this day. “It was weirdly the beginning of my career and yet maybe the climax of my career, in a way,” he reflects. “Having a table read next to Sally Field and Rob Lowe and Calista [Flockhart]? For me, it was acting boot camp extravaganza. I was working really hard trying to make magic with the best in the world.”

A slew of TV work followed, from  MODERN FAMILY to NIP/TUCK, and now, he’s thrilled to have landed in Salem as unscrupulous lawyer Ted Laurent. “Every day I go there with a smile,” he reports. “I’m five miles away from set. You get paid to create something fun and different, and there’s a lot of ups and downs. It’s a soap! There’s a lot of incredible stuff happening. What else do you need? Every day on set it’s different. Everybody is sweet. There are people that are there for a long time and they can see you as a weird threat sometimes. That is not the case whatsoever on this show. It’s such a huge family, and the way they just embraced me was very different and incredible.”

The gig also offers Marini the opportunity to be home with wife Carole and kids Georges and Juliana. “It’s hard when you have kids and you love them the way I do; you want to be around them,” he says. “This is the opportunity for me to be able to do a good job, but at the same time provide for my family and be with them. I’m in heaven. This show has helped my sanity more than they will ever know. No matter what happens with this show and myself and what’s next, I’m always going to be very grateful to them. It was perfect timing for me to be part of the show.”

 

Instagram

We Are Family: Marini spends as much time as he can with son Georges, daughter Juliana and wife Carole. 

 

Instagram

Mother’s Day: “So happy to see mom again,” posted Marini on Instagram, with his mother, Franca. “When she said I need to see you, there I come.”

 

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: January 26

Vive La France! Marini hails from Grasse, France.

Family Man: Marini and wife Carole married in 1998. They have two children, Georges, 19, and Juliana, 12. “This is the most important thing in my life. I’m responsible for two human beings and the least I can do is have them be two incredible human beings.”

Speak Easy: “French and Italian are my first languages and then English.”

Brothers And Sisters: Marini has an older sister, Esther —“She looks younger than every one of us. She is now the right hand of the mayor in Cannes” — and a younger brother, Thomas. “He lives here in Los Angeles and has two children here. We’re blessed!”

Wait And See: Marini recently lost 37 pounds to shoot the film Waiting For Anya. “I believe in my heart it could go very far. It’s an English-American film, an incredible true story that takes place during the Second World War. I can’t even explain the movie, I would actually cry, and I’m kind of not like that. It was so real to me.”

Pet Set: The Marinis are animal lovers. Their menagerie includes an African Grey parrot, Anya, and dogs Mila and Jackson. “When Michael Jackson passed away, my son and I were really devastated. I told him, ‘If I go all the way on DANCING WITH THE STARS I’ll get you your favorite pet,’ and that’s a French bulldog. We’ve had chickens roaming around the yard and in the hills, so we’ve had fresh eggs for the last 10 years. Rabbits. I have little fishes from the fair seven years ago. Penelope is a teacup Persian kitty that I got my daughter for Mother’s Day about five or six years ago to teach her responsibility.”

 

Instagram

Instagram

Getting Social: Follow him on Twitter
@GillesMarini; on Instagram, he’s
gillesmarini; and his official website is
www.gillesmarini.com.

 

LE GRAND AMOUR

n Marini met his wife, Carole, in 1998 at a bar in France, and it changed his life forever. “I gotta tell you the truth: I really looked at her black dress from the front and the back and unfortunately, maybe I was objectifying that beautiful woman,” he recalls. “I looked at her up and down and then I see her face and I’m like, ‘Okay, whoa, what’s going on here?’ My wife says, ‘Remember when we met and you had like six or seven girls around you?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t remember that. I just remember you.’ I think she had the most beautiful silhouette I’d ever seen in my life, so we chitchatted and I saw that it was so much more than this beautiful black dress. In my heart I was like, ‘This is a special human being,’ and I didn’t know why. I think when I met her mom, I realized why. My wife’s mom and Carole are identical. They were put in this world to make people complete. I’m so lucky to have met her because she’s a temple. My wife is one in a trillion, and I won the lottery.”

The two started a family quickly. “Fifteen days after we met, she was pregnant with our son, Georges,” he reveals. “That did it! It was pretty intense, but I said immediately, ‘I’m gonna be a dad, I’m young, but I have inspiration and goals that I have to accomplish in the United States and I will, and I will take everybody and we will do this,’ and it worked out. Nothing is impossible.”

The duo wed in Miami and will celebrate 20 years of marriage this year. “So far, so good!” he reports. “There’s always ups and downs, but usually the down is coming from me and not from her. That’s why I always say I’m lucky because she puts up with my b.s. and she shows me that it’s always possible to be better and not to give up. When things go wrong, she never makes me feel like things were wrong. She will fix it behind my back, make sure that I don’t get affected by it, and move forward with my life. She’s very special to me.”

 

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