Childhood & Early Life
Greta Scacchi was born on February 18, 1960, in Milan, Italy, to Luca Scacchi, a painter and an art dealer; and Pamela, an English dancer and art dealer. Greta has twin older brothers, Paul and Tom. Her parents divorced when she was 4, and the three children accompanied their mother to London, and then to Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
In 1975, her mother married Giovanni Carsinga, a visiting professor at the ‘University of Western Australia (UWA),’ and they all moved to Perth, Australia. Scacchi studied at the ‘Hollywood Senior High School’ in Perth and then attended the ‘University Drama Society’ at UWA. She made her stage debut with ‘Early Morning,’ a play by Edward Bond, at the ‘New Dolphin Theater.’ It was directed by Arne Neeme.
After her school education, she worked as a cowgirl and as an Italian interpreter on a ranch. She returned to England at the age of 18 and joined the ‘Bristol Old Vic’ theater school. To pay for studies, she worked as a model for fashion magazines and catalogues.
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Scacchi started with small roles on stage and then got a chance to portray ‘Annie’ in the series ‘Bergerac.’ In 1982, she made her film debut with a German movie ‘Das Zweite Gesitch’ (The Second Face), directed by Dominik Graf. She learnt German for this film. She is fluent in Italian, German, French, and English.
Scacchi initially worked in theater, films, and television productions for nearly 8 years. Her title role in the 1984 TV movie version of ‘Camille’ was appreciated.
After her German movie, she was signed on for a ‘Merchant-Ivory’ film ‘Heat and Dust’ (1983). Her role of ‘Olivia’ in this movie made her a star. This was followed by a number of other films, including ‘Burke and Willis’ (1985), ‘The Coca-Cola Kid’ (1985), ‘A Man in Love’ (1987), and ‘White Mischief,’ in 1988, which brought her acclaim.
She was noticed by Hollywood production houses for her performance in a modernized version (1988) of a play by Anton Chekov/Tsjechov. She made her Hollywood debut in 1990 with the film ‘Presumed Innocent’ in which she played the role of an attorney who is in a relationship with a married man, played by Harrison Ford.
In 1992, she starred opposite Tim Robbins in a showbiz dark comedy ‘The Player,’ directed by Robert Altman. ‘Festival in Cannes,’ which she did 11 years later, also had the same theme as this movie.
Scacchi starred opposite Vincent D’Onofio in ‘Fires Within’ (1992) and ‘Salt on Our Skin’ (1992). She was offered the lead role in ‘Basic Instinct,’ but she turned it down as she neither liked the script nor the director. She was in a position to refuse roles, but due to her personal issues she did not sign any new Hollywood projects for the next five years and worked only on the projects she had already accepted. She continued working on Australian and European assignments.
Her portrayal of Mrs. Weston in the 1996 movie, ‘Emma,’ fetched her accolades from critics and audience alsike. Scacchi played a significant role of a novelist involved with a British composer (played by Jason Fleming) in the 1998 Canadian-Italian production, ‘The Red Violin,’ which earned a number of ‘Genie Awards.’ It also won the ‘Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Film.’
The 1999 film ‘Ladies Room’ in which she played the lead role of ‘Lucia,’ was aunique film, as the entire film-story happens in a woman’s bathroom. She essayed the role of an Italian-Australian single mother in an Australian-Italian production, ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ (2000), which won her an ‘AFI Award for Best Supporting Actress.’ Scacchi returned to Hollywood in 2004, and appeared in films, such as ‘Beyond the Sea’ (2004), ‘Flightplan’ (2005) among others.
Along with her film roles, Scacchi also worked on a number of television shows and series, including TV mini-series ‘Waterfront’ (1984), ‘The Farm’ (2001), ‘Daniel Deronda’ (2002), ‘Broken Trail’ (2006), ‘Nightmares & Dreamscapes’ (2006), ‘The Trojan Horse’ (2008), and ‘War and Peace’ (2011) among many others. Her television series and movies were ‘Two Twisted’ (2006), ‘The Afternoon Play’ (2007), ‘Poirot’ (2013), ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ (2015), ‘Versailles’ (2017) and ‘The Terror’ (2018).
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She won an ‘Emmy Award’ for her portrayal of ‘Tsarina Alexandra’ in the 1996 TV movie, ‘Rasputin: The Dark Servant of Destiny.’ In 2007, she was nominated for ‘Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie’ for the TV movie ‘Broken Trail.’
Apart from films and television, Scacchi has done a lot of work in theater. At the beginning of her film career, she worked in ‘Cider with Rosie’ (1981), and ‘In Times Like These’ (1985). She performed with Mark Rylance and Kevin McNally in the 1985 play, ‘Airbase.’ In 1987, she appeared opposite Michael Gambon and Jonathan Pryce in ‘Uncle Vanya’ at ‘Vaudeville Theater,’ London.
At the ‘Festival of Perth,’ in 1991, Scacchi appeared as ‘Nora’ in Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House.’
Her stage appearances at Sydney included ‘Miss Julie’ (1992), ‘Simpatico’ (1966), and ‘Old Times’ (2001).
For her portrayal of ‘Queen Elizabeth’ in the play ‘Mary Stuart’ she was nominated for a ‘Sydney Theater Best Actress Award’ in 2008.
Scacchi has also performed in several plays on the European theater circuit and toured Italy and UK with theater groups. She has appeared in plays like ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ (2008) at the ‘Theater Royal,’ Bath, ‘A Little Night Music’ (2010), and ‘Bette and Joan’ (2011). At ‘The Old Vic’ London, she performed in ‘King Lear’ (2013), and in 2015 she toured with ‘The Glass Menagerie.’
Family & Personal Life
Between 1983 and 1989, Scacchi was romantically involved with New Zealand musician Tim Finn.
She was in a relationship with Vincent D’Onofrio, whom she met during the filming of ‘Fires Within.’ Together they have a daughter, Leila George (born 1992).
Her first cousin, Carlo Montegazza, is her friend, companion and also the father of her son, Matteo (born 1998).
She holds a dual citizenship of Italy and Australia. Scacchi was made a knight in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, in 2013.