Emmanuele Aita On Playing Football Agent Mino Raiola In I Am Zlatan

Emmanuele Aita joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about his role as football agent Mino Raiola in I Am Zlatan, a film about Zlatan Ibrahimović’s incredible rise to football greatness.

‘I Am Zlatan’ is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. What does it mean to you to help tell Zlatan’s story and to be involved in this project?

Telling the story of a great football player like Zlatan was a great thing to do! All his sacrifices make it clear why he became the great champion he is now. Helping to tell this story was amazing for me, a great honour.

Mino Raiola is one of the most influential figures in football. I imagine there would have been a lot of interest in this role. How did you get cast?

Yes, it’s true! It was a long process, lasting months. I had to do three auditions to get the role! I must especially thank the casting director, Francesca Sambataro, who believed in me and gave me some fundamental advice to better understand how to approach this character. It was so full of nuances.

It must be challenging to play a famous person who is still at the peak of their powers. How did you prepare for and approach the task of playing Raiola? 

I had played real life people on two other occasions in my career, including Marco Ferreri, the great director, in the Michel Hazanavicius’ film, Le Redoutable.

I studied a lot to play Mino. I looked at all his interviews, studying his way of moving and looking around. Mino is a man who speaks seven languages, in this film I acted in four different languages! A great challenge but full of satisfaction!

Did you get a chance to meet Raiola?

Unfortunately not. I wrote to him but he never answered me. I hope he will appreciate my work.

Raiola is one of the powerful names in sport and divides opinion amongst most online. After playing him in a movie, how do you see Raiola? What’s your opinion of him?

I am on the side of those who love him! I knew his life well even before shooting the film because two years ago, perhaps by fate, I recorded an audio book about his life. I think he’s a genius. He has invented a new job, a new way of managing and in this he is the best! This is why it is also normal that many people do not look favourably at him! Talent often divides crowds.

Are you a football fan? If so, who is your favourite player of all time?

I used to be a big football fan but I don’t follow it with great interest anymore. However, for me, the best player of all time is Diego Armando Maradona. Inimitable and incomparable.

How was collaboration with director Jens Sjögren and the rest of the crew?

The collaboration with Jens was terrific! He left me free to work on the character, to propose my ideas but he also directed me very well. I think Jens is a great artist and director. I hope to work with him again.

The whole crew and production were great and very kind to me. An experience that I would repeat over and over.

What can audiences expect from ‘I Am Zlatan’?

Definitely an amazing movie. Not a classic film about football players but a new way to tell the life of a great champion, with his strengths, his defects and all the hard work behind Ibracadabra!

What’s next for you?

I just finished shooting two new movies that will be out soon! Esterno Notte by Marco Bellocchio, a film about the kidnapping and killing of a very important Italian politician in 1978. And then a comedy, Il Mammone, by Giovanni Bognetti, where I had the honour of working with great Italian actors such as Diego Abatantuono and Angela Finocchiaro.

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