BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Dancing With the Stars contestant Gilles Marini says that when he is acting on-screen sometimes “less is more.” Clearly — if you saw his full-frontal nude shower scene with a leering Kim Cattrall in the first Sex and the City movie.
“I really wanted to push some boundaries,” says Marini, who in 2008 played Dante, Cattrall’s sexy neighbor. “I’m very far away from this character. I’m a real family man. My daughter was already born. I said, ‘Please, hopefully, she will never ever watch this.’ One day, I’m sure she will. She’ll say, ‘Daddy!’”
The French-born Marini had barely any dialog in his first major screen appearance, but he left a lasting impression. “I really worked my hardest to make this character, even if it was a couple of lines and a couple of scenes, very memorable.”
The shower scene took two hours to film on an open set with Cattrall, a dog and about 200 crew members. “I was looking up and there was a guy with a boom and a long beard saying, ‘What’s up, dude!”
Marini, 36, says he “blocked out” as much as he could about shooting the big scene and apologizes for any shortcomings. “It was kind of cold water. And it was in the winter. Put that in your mind. You’re a man, you’re outside in the cold in the cold water. Brother, everything shrinks! And it sucks!”
Sex and the City led to a regular role in ABC’s family drama Brothers & Sisters.
“Imagine you, 30 years old or something like that, and this is your first job. That was my first job with the best actors in the world. Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths, he says. “There is nothing left to the unknown with Rachel. She’s very, very specific and so professional that it makes you feel you need to go back to acting class for six lifetimes. Dave Annable, Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe, Ron Rifkin. It’s sick. I was the only one on the set who never won anything. And [director] Ken Olin said, ‘You are the superstar.’ I said, ‘C’mon Ken.’ It was the first time I could tell the world I’m a little bit more than Dante. And I have a lot more to prove.”
Last week as part of his dance routine, Marini flew over the stage in a harness. “That was not scary at all,” said the one-time firefighter. “The scary part was the dancing. Actually, my zipper was open. I was up and I thought, ‘Oh my God, my zipper is open!’ And I closed it.”
Sex and the City co-star Mario Cantone says he’s rooting for his friend, who is competing against celebrity contestants including Bristol Palin. “If he doesn’t win Dancing With the Stars All-Stars, I’m going to break my flat screen,” Cantone joked.
Just after last week’s DWTS appearances, Marini and Murgatroyd flew to South Florida where he shot a Perry Ellis print ad campaign. He is spokesman for the company’s Axist clothing line.
At a North Miami Beach private dance studio, Marini and Murgatroyd rehearsed a Bollywood routine for Monday’s DWTS episode.
He’s at home in South Florida, says Marini, who lived about four years in Miami Beach after leaving France in 1998.
“I stayed here a couple of seasons. I did modeling. Some commercials. I did all my modeling in Miami. I was married in Miami. My son was born in Jackson Memorial Hospital. Miami means the world to me, man. This is where we’re from. This is where I feel the adventure really started. I had nothing, not even a peck of English,” says Marini, who became an American citizen three months ago. “I actually lived the real true American dream.”