An alumnus of Rome's Theater Academy, Giancarlo Giannini could have enjoyed a comfortable career as a suave, mustachioed, two-dimensional leading man. But Giannini prefers the creative challenges provided by the complex, contrary characters conjured up by his longtime collaborator, writer/director Lina Wertmuller. His association with Wertmuller dates back to 1965, when he appeared in her Theatre Academy stage production 2 Plus 2 is No Longer Four. He went on to star in many of her TV productions and in her breakthrough theatrical feature The Seduction of Mimi (1967); later on, he and Wertmuller formed their own production company, Liberty Films. In contrast with many another image-conscious male star, Giannini has shown no hesitation in playing self-involved jerks with profound character flaws. In 1973, he won the Cannes Film Festival "Best Actor" award for his performance as a half-hearted political assassin in Wertmuller's Love and Anarchy. Three years later, he earned an Oscar nomination for his work in Wertmuller's Seven Beauties (1976) as a concentration camp inmate who'll do anything to survive--including submitting to the kinky fantasies of the grotesquely unlovely female camp supervisor. While his appearances in other director's films are seldom as memorable as his pairings with Wertmuller, Giancarlo Giannini has worked harmoniously with filmmakers as diverse as Visconti, Fassbinder and Coppola.