From his portrayal of James Bond villain Franz Sanchez to FBI profiler Bailey Malone in "Profiler" (1996), Robert Davi is one of the film industry's most recognized tough guys, whether on the big screen or on television. His tough exterior masks a powerful inner sensitivity, which he calls upon for his most notorious roles. A stickler for research, Davi contacted Quantico and arranged to meet Bill Hagenmeyer, the real-life FBI profiler. Davi received critical acclaim within the industry for his provocative and smoldering portrayal of Bailey Malone. The show, currently in syndication, struck a chord with audiences, paving the way for such shows as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (2000), "Without a Trace" (2002), "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (2001) and many others.
His work as a Palestinian terrorist Salim Ajami in an award-winning TV movie brought him critical acclaim and caught the eye of legendary James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, who cast Davi as Colombian drug lord and lead villain Franz Sanchez in the Bond film Licence to Kill (1989). Davi studied with the legendary Stella Adler, who became his mentor, and he was also a member of the Actors Studio, where he studied with Lee Strasberg. His big break came when he was cast opposite Frank Sinatra in the telefilm Contract on Cherry Street (1977) (TV), and he has gone on to work in projects with Marlon Brando, Roberto Benigni, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Benicio Del Toro, Danny Glover and Adam Sandler, to name a few.
Among his many notable film credits are Die Hard (1988), The Goonies (1985), Son of the Pink Panther (1993), Licence to Kill (1989), Raw Deal (1986) and Showgirls (1995). He has worked with such directors as Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner, Blake Edwards, John McTiernan and Paul Verhoeven, among others. He is equally adept at comedy, also, as is evident by his work in a Rodney Dangerfield romantic comedy, as a con artist (once again a very funny and believable character), and he can be seen in the Rob Schneider/Adam Sandler comedy The Hot Chick (2002). He recently produced and is starring in Hitters (2002), a film that takes a realistic look at the struggles that occur within a neighborhood mob crew.
Besides working and raising his five children, Davi stays busy volunteering his time in such charities such as The Dream Foundation, Exceptional Children's Foundation, Heart Of A Child Foundation, The National Italian-American Foundation, Unico, and he is the national spokesperson for I Save America.
|Christine Bolster||(19 August 1990 - present) (separated) 4 children|
|Jeri McBride||(29 November 1980 - 1 January 1990) (divorced) 1 child|
|Jan Borenstein||(14 February 1971 - 2 July 1980) (divorced)|
Originally trained as an opera-singer, until he damaged his voice. Sometime protégé of famous opera star Tito Gobbi.
Children: Sean Christian Davi (b.1981) with Jeri McBride, Ariana Marie Davi (b.April 3th 1990), Frances Davi (b.1992), Isabella Davi and Nicholas Edward Davi (twins, born on January 11th 2001) with Christine Bolster.
Only actor to star in all three of MGM's biggest franchises - James Bond, Pink Panther and Stargate (he is a recurring character on "Stargate: Atlantis" (2004)).
Attended Seton Hall High School, Patchogue, New York.
Attended Hofstra University on a drama scholarship.
Made his professional debut with Long Island's Lyric Opera Company.
Met his wife-to-be Christine Bolster in 1989 when he invited friend Mickey Rourke over to his home for some karaoke fun. Rourke, who was dating the fashion model at the time, introduced her to Davi, and he vowed to Rourke that he would marry her one day. Bolster later received an invitation from Davi to join him on a pictorial spread he was doing for GQ Magazine. He proposed to her during the shoot and they married soon after.
Loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
He went to Catholic primary schools on Long Island as a kid and then to Seton Hall, a Catholic high school in Patchogue, New York.
He got into Hofstra University on a drama scholarship and began working with its famous Shakespeare program, which includes a campus replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. After a time, though, he lost interest in school. Instead, he held a larger ambition: to work with the great Stella Adler. He ended up studying with Adler for three years and also studied with Lee Strasberg. During his apprenticeship, he acted in a rich variety of plays, from Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" and "The Seagull" to William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" and Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".
His father, Sal, was born in southern Italy, and though his mother, Mary, was born in America, her family came from southern Italy as well.
Speaks fluent Italian.
Between 1977 and 1979, his parents, his sister and two of his grandparents died. Davi says dealing with the family tragedies was profoundly painful.
[on George W. Bush and the "war on terrorism"] We have to protect America. And I think that, thank God we have this administration and this president.
I know a couple of my friends - quite a few - there is a conservative movement in Hollywood, and we kind of stay amongst ourselves.
The war on terrorism is part of the war with Iraq.
Great storytellers in the past would go to an unknown land and return to tell the stories they've found. Those were also journeys into their inner psyches and that's still true today. An actor, a writer, does that as if saying, "Here's what I've discovered about myself and about the world I'm in. I would like to share this with you." It's an act of giving.
I can play the bad guy, the character with the edge, but I would like him to get the girl without having to put a gun to her head, you know? Look at the careers of Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney started out playing the adversary, too. I feel an affinity towards them. Right now, you have a lot of leading boys, but no leading men in the old sense of the word. There's a need for that and I think I can bring that to the screen.
([on his beginning acting training] I was frustrated at Hofstra [University], so I moved to Manhattan, worked as a waiter and at a fruit-and-vegetable stand. I lived in a cheap railroad flat on East 171st Street, took classes at Juilliard and finally worked my way into Stella Adler's Actors Studio. And that made all the difference. This woman was like getting a flame inside you, she was so inspirational.
[on being typecast] If you look at the careers of people like Anthony Quinn, [James Cagney, even Tommy Lee Jones, they all were cast as villains. There comes a certain point in your life, in your late 30s, early 40s, when suddenly that can change. Maybe a director sees a glimpse of something else within you along the way. I played comedy in The Goonies (1985), which showed something else was going on. Even when I played the Bond villain in Licence to Kill (1989), there were some people who were rooting for that character ahead of the traditional hero. Now, in "Profiler" (1996), I get to play Bailey Malone, and I get to show another essence of myself. Stage performances show off multi-varied aspects of an actor, film has always been something else entirely. You always have a prejudice as to what you can and can't do, but your soul is able to come out more.
In the eighth grade I found I had a voice for opera, so I followed that path a little, but my impulse has always been an actor. I have always liked cinema, and let's face it, opera singers are just bad actors! I didn't want to translate myself in that direction. My heroes were people like Spencer Tracy, Bogart [Humphrey Bogart], Mitchum [Robert Mitchum], Marvin [Lee Marvin], Richardson [Ralph Richardson], Caine [Michael Caine], all those sort.
[2008, on Son of the Pink Panther (1993)] I love Benigni's [Roberto Benigni] work, and to be able to go to the south of France for three months, and then Pinewood Studios and then to Jordan. I just remember having a very good time filming that.
[2008, on Showgirls (1995)]) I love Paul Verhoeven's work in Soldier of Orange (1977), and his films. The films he's getting back to making now, you know what I'm saying? I saw those films when they first came out, and I just always wanted to work with him. I almost did Total Recall (1990). I didn't, because I didn't want to play the bad guy in that film. But later on with "Showgirls", I hadn't really done anything with a real edge. So wanting to work with Verhoeven was the absolute main reason I did the picture, and also not playing a character that had formalities, and wanting to then bring something different to that character. For instance, I didn't want to be the guy that had the typical three-piece suit, jacket and tie, running a strip joint. So I asked Paul Verhoeven, "Could I be a little more predatory? Could I pick out a leopard-skin pattern for the shirt?" And I did. After that film, even The Rolling Stones, I think Keith Richards--the pattern of that shirt I had in "Showgirls" started to be seen a bit. And the little dance I did there with Nomi [Elizabeth Berkley] when she's gonna be the star, unfortunately it comes back to bite me on the ass a little bit, because people that don't tend to know my whole body of work . . . I can't tell you the community of people that loved the picture. It used to play like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
[2008, on Die Hard (1988)] Joel Silver called me and said, "Hey, I've got this character. I think you're going to like this character." And it was Big Johnson. That was a lot of fun, and it became a huge hit and kind of in the classic realm. That's a talented [group]--McTiernan [director John McTiernan] and Joel Silver. You know, at the time, Bruce Willis wasn't really--if this film didn't work, it wasn't going to be good for him. And it just defied everyone's--McTiernan had done a film, Nomads (1986), so there was a huge buzz on him in the first Predator (1987). And it was a huge, just a huge surprise. Didn't know.
[2008, on The Goonies (1985)] I had a great time. Dick Donner [director Richard Donner], fantastic. Steven Spielberg, absolutely terrific to work with. He did the second-unit shooting for three and a half, five months. And Frank Marshall did the third-unit shooting. So you had three great talents filming it all, and you went from one set to another sometimes, because of all the effects and things we didn't have CGI stuff for. The thing I remember mostly--there were a few things, but again, me wanting to create Jake Fratelli in this. And also Chris Columbus wrote the screenplay. But I remember saying, "All right, we've got eight kids in this," or six kids, or whatever it was, "and this big set and the pirate thing. Now what am I going to bring to this character that's unique and unusual?" And the scene when I feed Sloth his food in the basement gave me the key to my whole character. It was written that I'd just put the food down and when Sloth went to reach for it, I'd move it away sadistically with my foot, and then I would bring it closer and move it away a little more. I felt that it was totally unsympathetic. And I wanted to create a character that you could also laugh [at] and have sympathy for in a certain way. So what I did was, I told Steven Spielberg--not told, I asked--Dick Donner and Steven Spielberg that I had an idea about Jake Fratelli, and that was that he was a frustrated opera singer and no one would listen to him. His brother Francis, his mother would never listen to him. But the only time he had a chance to express himself was when he was feeding Sloth. So, "Sing for your supper?" Listen to me for your supper. So I introduced the opera-singing there, and when Sloth just starts to scream over my singing, it hurts my feelings, because now he's not even listening to me. And then I'm able to say, "Here, you want your food? Here's your food. You don't listen to me! Nobody listens to me." And then having Anne Ramsey, I used to say to her, "I want you to slap me whenever you can."
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