Grey’s Anatomy Star Giacomo Gianniotti on Travel and Giving Back

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As the passionate and headstrong Dr. Andrew DeLuca on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Canadian-Italian actor Giacomo Gianniotti has faced his fair share of disasters, from rescuing victims from a collapsed tunnel to trekking through a blizzard to retrieve a liver needed for a transplant. But in the upcoming 17th season, which premieres on November 12 on CTV, DeLuca and Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are tackling their biggest emergency yet: the coronavirus pandemic. Since March, the Rome-born, Toronto-raised Gianniotti has been in Los Angeles, where Grey’s shoots, and collaborating with Canadian outerwear brand Nobis as their global brand ambassador. This month Nobis launched No Cold Shoulder, a virtual coat drive for vulnerable communities around the world. “For households with multiple children, a jacket can be a big expense. We thought this would be a nice way to alleviate the burden of winter,” says Gianniotti.

Ahead of the Grey’s premiere, we spoke with Gianniotti about what fans can expect this season, and how his Italian roots helped shape DeLuca and his travel rituals.

November 12, 2020
Giacomo Gianniotti in character as Dr. DeLuca from the tv show Grey’s Anatomy
   Photo: @giacomo_gianniotti

enRoute Grey’s Anatomy is no stranger to covering natural disasters and other crises, but the show is also a space for escapism. What was your reaction when you learned that Covid-19 would play a major role this season?

Giacomo Gianniotti Since the beginning of Grey’s, it’s always been about bringing social issues to the forefront and talking about what is currently affecting our lives and world. We’re really excited to tell stories that honour these health-care workers who have just been put through the ringer during these past eight months, and to also honour the families who have been through Covid and lost loved ones. This season is dedicated to those people. You can tell that everyone [in the cast and crew] is bringing their A game because we all want to make sure this is the most special season of Grey’s Anatomy.

ER Coming into this season, how did you prepare? Did you connect with doctors working on the frontlines?

GG We have a few doctors on the show who were working in Covid units at hospitals and they brought that personal experience into the writer’s room. They’re also resources for us as actors to ask questions, and they’re on set making sure we do things authentically. Just out of my curiosity, in the beginning of the pandemic I was ingesting all these videos that nurses and doctors were taking of themselves, opening up about their experiences and informing people about what was going on inside their hospitals.

Aerial view of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy
Rome.   Photo: Spencer Davis

ER In Grey’s, the Italian language ends up being a romantic spark between DeLuca and Meredith Grey. Did you grow up speaking Italian with your parents?

GG I was born in Rome and when I was about six years old I immigrated to Canada. My mother is Canadian and my father is Italian. It was very important to both of them that I kept my language and my culture. Every summer since I was six years old, I was sent back to Rome to spend those two months with my grandmother, uncles and cousins. Apart from this pandemic, I have never missed a year going back to Italy. When I joined Grey’s and [the writers] found out Italian was my first language, they were like “Oh, we need to find a way to use that somehow,” and then they created my sister character, Carina, who is played by Stefania Spampinato. I love having scenes with her where we can just walk down the hallway of Grey Sloan and speak in Italian. And yeah, turning on that Italian flair as a romance tool for Meredith and using it to seduce her – that was fun.

Aerial view of sailboats within a cove in Capri, Italy
A close up of Spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with clams
Capri, Italy.   Photo: Joe Byrnes
Spaghetti alle vongole.    Photo: Giorgio Giorgi

ER Where is your favourite place to travel to?

GG Capri. It’s a little island just off of Naples in Italy. There’s something very magical about that island. It has huge cliffs, rocks, alcoves and grottos. It’s just off the Amalfi Coast, so the food is also incredible. Spaghetti alle vongole, which is spaghetti with clams, is a classic, with some Italian parsley and chili flakes.

ER Do you have any travel rituals?

GG If it’s a city I’ve never been to, the first thing I do is find a bicycle because it’s the best way to explore and stumble upon things. If I’m shooting a movie or a TV show, I’ll ask “Where’s the closest bicycle shop?” and I’ll rent one, hop on and just get lost. The best city I’ve ever cycled in is probably Berlin. I shot a film there called Race with Stephan James – another Canadian brother of mine – about Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Berlin has bike lanes everywhere.

A full bike stand beside a Berlin cathedral
Berlin.   Photo: Shobhit Sharma

ER Why is the No Cold Shoulder campaign important to you?

GG I’m really proud to be partnering with Nobis in a bigger way. This has been a really trying time, and as we move into winter and it starts to get cold, we thought this initiative would be a nice gesture of compassion for our community. If you go to nocoldshoulder.com, you can find out how to donate your gently-used coats to a local charity that gives coats to communities in need.

Giacomo Gianniotti sitting on a stool in a coat for the Nobis' No Cold Shoulder campaign
   Photo: Justin Wu Photography

The Questionnaire

  • Dream seatmate My wife – and we’re playing Mario Kart on my Nintendo Switch.

  • Favourite souvenir Pocket squares. When you wear them, they’re like little reminders of past trips.

  • Travel style Comfortable AF.

  • Last trip New York City.

  • Next trip Besides the obvious ones – visiting my family in Toronto and Rome – I’ve always wanted to visit the pyramids in Egypt.

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