Roberto Benigni: bio of the Oscar-winning Italian actor

There are artists who need no introduction. They define themselves in the cinematic universe for the decisive contribution arising from their representations.

Roberto Benigni and cinema are one and the same. A legendary figure counted among the absolute gods never to die. Far from it. It is not just the past, but it continues to be the present, despite the fact that Italian cinema seems to have lost a bit of that fascination of the past due to the lack of certain figures on the set.

We see in the following lines the biography of the Italian actor Oscar winner for Life is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni. Enjoy the reading!


  • The beginnings of Roberto Benigni
  • Roberto Benigni’s film career
  • ‘Life is beautiful’ and ‘Pinocchio’ by Roberto Benigni
  • The 2000s by Roberto Benigni
  • Roberto Benigni film

The beginnings of Roberto Benigni

What to say about Roberto Benigni? Many things. First of all, he was born in a town in the province of Arezzo, Castiglion Fiorentino to be precise, on 27 October 1952. From an early age his cheerful and open character shines through, always smiling with life and with those around him.

The passion of a lifetime has always been the show in general. So much so that he began his career on stage as a singer and musician in the 70s . At about 20 he enters the Florentine theater and participates in various long-running shows that make him known in the environment.

The director and screenwriter Giuseppe Bertolucci will represent for Roberto Benigni a fundamental figure in his professional growth. This is because it will allow him to stage an autobiographical character, Mario Cioni, who can be perfectly assimilated to the figure of the actor due to the peasant nature, carefree and, at times, inquisitive towards society.

The film ” Vita da Cioni ” arrives in the cinema in 1977 under the direction of Bertolucci. The first Benigni appears to be an awkward, irreverent character, ready to push politics. He immediately glimpses the satirical nature that will accompany him for the rest of his career.

On the other hand, sympathy for the Communist Party and, specifically, for Enrico Berlinguer has never been a mystery. He even comes to present the Sanremo Festival in 1980, one of the highest points of constant and never banal television appearances in their heterogeneity.

Alongside the appearances on TV, the theater remains the most important stage . Where the real nature of one man show comes out. He collaborates with Renzo Arbore on TV programs with a strong goliardic and critical flavor.

Roberto Benigni’s film career

He began his career as a film director in 1983 with the direction of “Tu mi turbi”. “ We just have to cry ” the following year marks the perfect meeting, emblem of the Italian cinema of the time, with the late Massimo Troisi.

A friendship was born between the two that went beyond the camera, sharing an almost similar comedy. Some insiders defined them as the new Toto and Peppino.

Starred in American films by director Jim Jarmusch in the late 1980s. In the film “Taxiisti di notte”, dated 1991, he plays the part of a Tuscan taxi driver who at one point becomes the protagonist of the murder of a priest, causing scandal in the ecclesiastical world and breaking certain pre-packaged schemes.

He plays Inspector Clouseau in the film ” The son of the pink panther ” from the well-known series. When he meets the screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami he opens up even more to the world through films such as ” Johnny Stecchino ” and ” The monster “, the latter inspired by the so-called “monster of Florence”, much debated and shocking in the judicial sphere. A film that immediately placed itself at the top of the ranking of cinematographic preferences, to the point that it is still currently considered among the 100 films that have grossed more in Italy.

He even had the opportunity to act with Federico Fellini and Paolo Villaggio in 1990 in the film “The voice of the moon”. A historical event, considering that right here she takes off the clothes of the likeable humorist and wears those of a restless character with a thousand mysteries.

‘Life is beautiful’ and ‘Pinocchio’ by Roberto Benigni

The apex of professional notoriety for Roberto Benigni is reached in conjunction with the theatrical release of ” La vita e bella “. The most iconic film, undoubtedly, of his career. In it Benigni scandalizes the public by treating a scabrous subject like the Holocaust in an ironic and irreverent way, triggering not a few controversies.

It is no coincidence that “La vita e bella” receives 7 Oscar nominations, including best soundtrack, best foreign film and best leading actor, in the 1999 edition, but it goes far beyond mere formal awards and rises towards a sacredness much more incisive. The only actor ever to win the Oscar for best leading actor in a film of which he is both actor and director.

In 2002, one of the most expensive productions of Italian cinema of all time was released in cinemas, namely “ Pinocchio ”, taking inspiration almost faithfully from Collodi’s novel. Thanks to this production Benigni brings home 2 David di Donatello and 1 Nastro d’Argento.

The tiger and the snow ” represents one of the many films in which he appears with the woman of his life, Nicoletta Braschi, taking place in an extremely delicate context such as the war in Iraq at the time.

The 2000s by Roberto Benigni

The 2000s outline a path oriented towards the past and towards an increasingly pervasive return to the theater. Benigni cannot resist the strong appeal of Dante and the Divine Comedy , which has always influenced him throughout his entire career. This is why he sings entire songs of the poem from memory, not a little thrilling the television and theatrical audience.

A mix that produces other appearances at the Sanremo Festival , which becomes a privileged territory for satirical and spectacular performances. For mass culture, Roberto Benigni is not summed up in the personality of the classic comic that only makes you laugh, but has always tended to make the viewer think and make him think with his own head. 

On the other hand, the irony that characterized him for an entire professional life and not only was constantly kept within these tracks, without ever deviating completely. A modus operandi that has received the consent of the public, but, at the same time, divided the criticism by forays, especially in the television field, not always appreciated and approved to the end.

Benigni myth of Italian cinema : there is little to discuss about this. A myth that remains and will remain indelible in the Olympus of the greatest and beyond. Absolute reference and source of inspiration for all those who chew avant-garde cinema and comedy.

Roberto Benigni film

We leave you to Roberto Benigni’s filmography, in chronological order. See you next time with the biographies of the Italian actors by CineMagazine!

  1. Berlinguer I love you, directed by Giuseppe Bertolucci (1977)
  2. Una mamma, episode of Wild Beds, directed by Luigi Zampa (1979)
  3. Sung Days, directed by Paolo Pietrangeli (1979)
  4. The Moon, by Bernardo Bertolucci (1979)
  5. Chiaro di donna (Clair de femme), directed by Costa – Gavras (1979)
  6. Asylum, directed by Marco Ferreri (1979)
  7. Il Pap’occhio, by Renzo Arbore (1980)
  8. Il minestrone, directed by Sergio Citti (1981)
  9. Tu mi turbi, directed by Roberto Benigni (1983)
  10. “FF.SS.” – That is: “… what did you bring me to do above Posillipo if you don’t love me anymore?”, Directed by Renzo Arbore (1983)
  11. We just have to cry, directed by Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi (1984)
  12. Tuttobenigni, directed by Giuseppe Bertolucci (1986)
  13. Strange to Know Each Other, episode of Coffee and Cigarettes, directed by Jim Jarmusch (1986)
  14. Daunbailo (Down by Law), regia di Jim Jarmusch (1986)
  15. The Little Devil, by Roberto Benigni (1988)
  16. The Voice of the Moon, directed by Federico Fellini (1990)
  17. Rome, episode of Night on Earth, directed by Jim Jarmusch (1991)
  18. Johnny Stecchino, directed by Roberto Benigni (1991)
  19. Son of the Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards (1993)
  20. The Monster, directed by Roberto Benigni (1994)
  21. Life is Beautiful, directed by Roberto Benigni (1997)
  22. Asterix and Obelix contro Cesare (Asterix and Obelix against Cesar), the royal di Claude Zidi (1999)
  23. Pinocchio, directed by Roberto Benigni (2002)
  24. Strange to know each other, episode of Coffee and Cigarettes, directed by Jim Jarmusch (2003)
  25. Caterina Goes to Town, directed by Paolo Virzi (2003) – Cameo
  26. The Tiger and the Snow, directed by Roberto Benigni (2005)
  27. To Rome with Love, regia di Woody Allen (2012)
  28. Pinocchio, directed by Matteo Garrone (2019)