Toronto-born Grey’s Anatomy star to play lead detective in new CBC series

Playing a surgeon on the most well-known medical drama of our time, Grey’s Anatomy, Giacomo Gianniotti’s character has landed in prison, gotten stabbed and even appeared in the afterlife. So it’s no surprise that the Toronto actor has jumped at the chance to play a role that involves, yes, some drama, but also a lot of comedy. 

“This show is definitely more heavily rooted in a more lighthearted and comedic world,” he says of Wild Cards, a new CBC series premiering on Jan. 10, starring Gianniotti as detective Cole Ellis. “I thought it’s really fun that, week to week, we’re going to try and make people laugh. There are a lot of really heavy things going on in our world right now, and I think people are looking to turn on their TV and watch something that is like comfort food.”

Although he says the show isn’t trying to “reinvent the wheel”  when it comes to cop shows, Gianniotti says he, co-star Vanessa Morgan and the show’s creator, Michael Konyves, wanted to make something original. “I think I just kind of wanted to create in a bubble; we wanted to create something that was our own.”

It’s a new direction from his experience in landing his first major role on Grey’s Anatomy. Gianniotti, who was born in Italy but grew up in Toronto, attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts and split his time between his two homes finding stage, film and television work where he could. 

“I went out to Los Angeles for pilot season in the hopes of getting the lead or a role on a brand new show, and what I ended up getting was a role on a show that was so well established,” he says. “It was like hopping on to this very fast moving train, and so the challenge became, ‘Well, how do I fit into this?’”

It was clear that he succeeded in finding his place — on a show where new characters come and go within a season or less, Gianniotti’s Andrew DeLuca had a seven-season arc on the show and built up an ardent fanbase. And when he finished off his run, Gianniotti says he was at a crossroads in his career — which led him back to Italy.

“I hadn’t worked in Italy in my mother tongue in a very long time, over a decade, and I thought something Italian would be an interesting pivot,” he says. When he reached out to his Italian agent, the first role that presented itself was the lead in a film adaptation of Diabolik, one of the most popular comics in Italy. 

“There’s a lot of James Bond vibes to it — it’s set in the ’60s, and it’s a spy thriller kind of genre. It was a lot of fun to play,” he says. 

Now, called back to Canada — the show is filmed in Vancouver — Gianniotti is ready to bring his skills to the Canadian screen. “There’s heart in this show — both my character and Vanessa’s character have dark pasts and demons that they’ve wrestled with. They’re human experiences that we can all relate to. So I’m excited to showcase some of those things as well.”

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