Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't
I had never been to Sicily so I was pleased when my agent rang to say I had been cast in two TV commercials for Tonino Wine which were to be shot on Mount Etna.
As it is a live volcano, we were a little nervous. It was also the home of the Mafia. Everyone was quite careful when chatting in a restaurant in case a gangster was listening at the next table.
We stayed in a beautiful old hotel in Taormina. The main street was lined with beautiful colourful houses and each one had a balcony covered in flowers. It was like an opera set at La Scala in Milan. I expected the Three Tenors to appear on the balcony and sing Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’.
We were to shoot two commercials for Tonino Wine and I was to play Signor Tonino.
Part of the script read:
“Every year we ceremoniously sacrifice two bottles of our best wine to placate the volcano.”
That was in case it decided to erupt. The ‘sacrifice’ consisted of me breaking two bottles of wine against a rock. The first one went according to plan but the second just wouldn’t break, in spite of several attempts.
Eventually the director had the bright idea to score around the bottle so that it would break more easily.
On the second attempt it did break but part of the bottle landed on my hand, almost cutting my thumb off. When I got back from the hospital I was wrapped up like a mummy with my arm in a sling.
The producer asked one of the technicians to stand in for me and smash a bottle against the rock. If you look very carefully you will see a fat thumb which is not one I would be proud of.
Tonino is a wine at the lower end of the scale but not bad value so it was a surprise when they took it off the market.
To my surprise, when I was in Holland last year I actually saw a bottle on the shelf in a supermarket, so it hasn’t disappeared completely!
I’m pleased to say my thumb survived the ordeal without permanent disfigurement, but I do sometimes have a slight limp.
Mt. Etna is the world’s most dangerous volcano and could erupt at any time. What were they thinking sending me there?
There were two commercials, so here's the other one where the clouds break open.