|With Rocco Papaleo at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, 2010|
Papaleo grew up in Lauria, a small city located in the province of Potenza in Basilicata. He moved to Rome when he was 18 years of age. Although acting seems second nature to him, it was not his chosen field. He originally majored in mathematics and planned on becoming a teacher. He had a change of heart after he saw how much a friend who was studying acting enjoyed her craft. It was not long after that change of heart that Papaleo starting working in the industry. He spent the first part of his career on stage and on the small screen and then moved to feature films in the '90s.
In 2012, he teamed up with fellow comic, Luciana Littizzetto for the hilarious story about parents who discover their son is secretly appearing in pornographic movies. "È nata una star?" was co-written and directed by filmmaker Lucio Pellegrini and also stars Pietro Castellitto, the son of Sergio Castellitto and his wife, novelist Margaret Mazzantini. The role showcases Papaleo's genius comic timing, and some of his scenes will have you crying with laughter. His chemistry with Littizzetto is undeniable and the two beloved Italian comedians are a match made in heaven for this wildly funny scenario.
The following year was also a prolific year for Papaleo. He once again stepped behind the camera to write and direct the comedy, "Una piccola impresa meridionale." The film stars Barbora Bobulova who goes through great lengths to protect her politically incorrect family from the curiosity and gossip of the town. In the end, it's a story that demonstrates the strength of unity. He also co-starred in the 2014 New Year's Day release, "Un boss in salotto" in which he plays the role of Ciro Cimmaruta, a long lost brother with ties to the mafia who shows up at his sisters doorstep, immediately joining the family. Again, Papaleo manages to deliver a most hilarious performance, but also shows us the sentimental side of this petty criminal, especially as he gets to know his adorable niece and nephew.