First, there was McDreamy; then, McSteamy, and now, there is McDork? Well, if you ask Grey’s Anatomy newcomer Giacomo Gianniotti, who joined the cast at the end of season 11, that is what he would call himself. “My character’s a dork,” he tells HELLO! about Dr. Andrew DeLuca. “He’s not like a bumbling idiot; he has confidence, but he is just trying to figure it out.”
Similar to his character, who is a new intern at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, the 26-year-old is fresh meat, so to speak in the city of dreams. Growing up in Rome until the age of 8, then moving to a small town three hours north of Toronto with his mom where “everyone had their doors unlocked,” Giacomo didn’t really begin to pursue acting until he moved in with his dad in Toronto. “He left everything he had in Italy to come be a father to me in Canada because he didn’t have a dad,” he explains. “He’s kind of my rock so I moved to Toronto and went to arts school where I started to take acting more seriously.”
For two years after high school, he returned to Rome and then had more thorough training at an acting conservatory in Toronto before paying a visit to ShondaLand. The audition for the Grey’s role took place at the end of 2014, and in February 2015, he decided to move to Los Angeles to give the pilot season a try. He, along with two friends, packed up his Honda and a 5 x 8 trailer that they named "Trailer Swift and Two Chains" and set out on the 2,500 mile adventure from his hometown.
Somewhere in Missouri (about 15 hours into their drive and four months after the initial audition), the single actor received a call from his manager telling him the role for Grey’s was down to him and another actor, and that Shonda Rhimes wanted to meet him as soon as he got there. In between jam sessions (he is also a musician), some fun with a GoPro and almost losing his packed trailer on the highway due to poorly attached chains, Giacomo prepped for his audition for the remainder of their three-day journey.
After nailing the audition for the role, which at first was only supposed to be a couple episodes, it was announced in January that he was promoted to a series regular alongside the cast including Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers , Chandra Wilson and Kevin McKidd. In fact, Kevin directed his first episode. “I had a great first day, basically busting out of an ambulance, tons of medical jargon and Kevin,” he says. “It’s nice to be directed by an actor.”
In addition to keeping busy in his scrubs, the humble actor will be starring in the upcoming movie Race about Jesse Owens competing in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Keep reading below for more Grey’s set secrets like Ellen’s favorite rapper and what Giacomo did in Berlin that broke the rules!
HELLO!: When you were cast as a series regular, did Shonda
come out with big balloons or something very Oprah-esque?
Giacomo Gianniotti: No, it was very discreet. Debbie Allen, one of our executive producers just came up to me and told me they were picking up my option and welcome to Grey’s Anatomy. She gave me a big hug.
H!: Grey’s is now in its 12th season, being
the new kid on the block, did the cast have any welcome rituals for you?
GG: I didn’t get any hazing of sorts, but Justin Chambers is a really great guy. He just gave me the lay of the land of how things worked and opened up to me a lot about just acting and how to deal with being an actor on this show. I was very grateful for the wisdom he showed me.
H!: What’s it like working with Ellen Pompeo? She seems
to always have a smile on her face.
GG: She is so much fun. She is just in a state of a constant good time and is making sure everyone else is having a great time. She’s always pumping the latest Drake song when she walks by, dancing to it.
H!: You joked that your nickname is McDork, but do you
see yourself as the new heartthrob of the show?
GG: That’s just not my job. My job is to go on and, you know, prepare my lines and connect with people. If people want to call me a heartthrob, that’s fine. I’m not oblivious to, you know, parts of why a guy is hired at a certain time, but obviously they’ve given me much more. They’ve given me some really nice stuff to play.
H!: Now that you are on a medical show, do you find
yourself self-diagnosing or friends?
GG: No, no, none of that. I am waiting to be in a situation like on an airplane or restaurant when somebody yells out, “Is there a doctor in the building?” I know a little part of me, just a small part, is going to start to get up. Then, I’ll immediately check myself and sit down.
H!: Has your family become Grey’s Anatomy fans with your being on the show?
GG: Grey’s is massive in Italy so my Italian family is so proud, and I have so many friends back in Rome that are following me religiously so it’s great to feel that love. My immediate family is in Toronto, and they also follow it.
H!: Any splurges since being cast on the show?
GG: I’ve always not really let my lifestyle change too much. I think it’s more about eating out a little bit more or being able to fly a friend or family in. Those little pleasures are the bigger rewards for me – being able to include other people in my job and success.
H!: Any great advice you’ve been given since becoming an
GG: When I first got here, a guy I met told me if you show up on time with your lines down and sober, you are already ahead of like 80 percent of the actors in this city. For me, it’s a no brainer, that’s what is expected. I’m very lucky, I was raised very well with a good head on my shoulders, and I know why I came here. I’m very focused. I want to contribute to the next generation of great actors in this world, so it’s just great to sort of hear you’re doing everything right.
H!: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
GG: I was 10. I never really wanted to be an actor until I got this job in an Italian film called La Bomba (The Bomb). I had this small part as a street kid, and I fell in love with the idea of all these people working together toward this one goal. Everyone had their own role but everyone is equally important; it’s very collaborative.
H!: Whose career do you aspire to have?
GG: I have a lot of heroes. Because I speak Italian, and it’s my first language, I dream of a career that I can work in both the European market and have American success. I see people like Javier Bardem, who works a lot in Spanish films then he [stars] in the ultra-American blockbuster film. To go back to your roots working with these incredible independent filmmakers, speaking your native tongue in your native land – that for me is sort of the dream.
H!: Which actress would you love to play opposite?
GG: Probably Julianne Moore. I don’t think there is a single actress I have more respect for than her. She’s the real deal.
H!: Grey’s is
back and you also have the movie
coming out on February 19. What was it like being a part of this cast that also
stars Jason Sudeikis and Stephen James.
GG: It’s a really great independent film. It’s a biopic story of Jesse Owens, who traveled with his American team to represent the country during Hitler’s Nazi regime. We all trained together. I play a Jewish runner Sam Stoller. At the last minute Jesse and another African American sprinter Ralph Metcalfe replaced them because of Hitler [not allowing any Jewish participants.]
H!: Was it fun to shoot in Berlin?
GG: I loved the city. The stadium is still there. Funny story, on my lunch break one day when we were shooting at the actual stadium, I wanted to go in, but it was locked. I hopped the fence and got on the track, and I decided in that moment to run a lap for my character who didn’t get to. I did the 400 meter relay for him as fast as I could.
H!: Going back to
Grey’s, what did you do when you found out you were going to be a series
GG: It was just happiness. It was sort of like a confirmation of all the choices that I’ve made. Everything in the universe telling me that I’m exactly where I need to be.
Grey's Anatomy returns February 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.