Giacomo Gianniotti on Marrying a ‘Similar Soul’ & Getting Political on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (Exclusive)
By Leena Tailor
The couple that slays mud together, stays together!
As he rides the high of a busy 18 months, which have seen him make his directorial debut in Canada, have his character’s love life heat up on Grey’s Anatomy, get named Champion of the Year by Los Angeles non-profit My Friend’s Place and hang with Giorgio Armani in Rome, actor Giacomo Gianniotti is opening up about the woman by his side through it all -- his gorgeous fiancée, Nichole G.
The two made their commitment official in November, when Gianniotti popped the question, surrounded by red rose petals, and while he describes being engaged as “amazing,” the 28-year-old actor confesses he never envisioned himself getting married.
“It’s not something I necessarily dreamed of doing,” he tells ET. “I wouldn’t consider myself a totally traditional person in the past. It was a newer concept that came to us, but when it came around, it felt so right and it fit.”
“I was pretty blown away by how much it changes things, and positively,” adds Gianniotti, who flew to northern California to ask his future father-in-law’s permission before proposing. “It’s like an unexplainable energy shift when you really commit yourself to someone and make it official. It’s beautiful."
The Italian-born, Toronto-raised star, who plays Dr. Andrew DeLuca on Grey’s Anatomy, added that it was meeting the right person that changed his attitude towards marriage. That encounter came with Nichole, a makeup artist and hairstylist, with whom he recently celebrated his two-year anniversary.
“I think it's just recognizing a similar soul -- a soul that feels like yours,” he explains. “[It’s just] easy. When things are easy and don’t have to be complicated, and you feel like you can both chase your own goals, but still be running together, that’s a really exciting thing for me.”
Running together is exactly what the pair have been doing in recent weeks, while training for the annual Tough Mudder obstacle course and mud run, which Gianniotti has completed twice previously with his Grey’s castmates. This year, he recruited the latest intern additions to the ABC series -- including Alex Blue Davis (Casey), Rushi Kota (Vik), Jake Borelli (Levi), and Jaicy Elliot (Taryn) -- as well as Nichole to take part with him. While heavy rain in Los Angeles caused the event to be cancelled, Team Grey’s still raised more than $30,000 through a pre-event donation drive.
The funds will go to My Friend's Place, a non-profit dedicated to providing resources and opportunities to homeless youth in Los Angeles, California. Miley Cyrus has also worked closely with the Hollywood-based organization, which named Gianniotti their 2016 Champion of the Year for his ongoing volunteer work -- from filling and handing out backpacks full of food and clothes to needy youth, to donating socks, serving breakfast and raising significant funds.
Gianniotti continues to dedicate time to the organization -- which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year -- despite his work commitments on Grey's Anatomy. And. just like in real life, this season of the ABC medical drama has seen his character’s love life take on more of a spotlight.
With DeLuca having moved on from his unrequited love for Jo (Camilla Luddington,) Gianniotti teases things will continue to heat up with his ex, Sam (Jeanine Mason), who blindsided him with her unexpected arrival at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital earlier this season.
“It’s been cool having this woman from DeLuca’s past who shows up unexpectedly. At the beginning it's a cause for friction and opening old wounds, but it slowly moves to acceptance and happiness,” Gianniotti says. “Like a lot of relationships on Grey’s, they know they shouldn’t be doing it, but they can’t help it. They can’t help the joy it gives them, the comfort it gives them and the distraction it gives them in a job that is incredibly demanding. So you’ll see some fun, comedy and, of course, drama!”
Sam isn’t the only gorgeous newcomer keeping DeLuca busy. The arrival of his sister, Carina (Stefania Spampinato), has also stirred things up, with the brunette beauty enlisting her colleagues for orgasm studies by day and enjoying sexy liaisons with both male and female doctors by night. Spampinato is a fellow Italian who Gianniotti has loved having on set.
“That’s honestly been the most fun this season -- bringing Stefania Spampinato on,” says Gianniotti. “Having another Italian on set has been so cool. We speak Italian in between takes and when we catch up. It’s nice to have someone to speak it with, apart from my father and my family in Italy. But the writers have also been so gracious in writing scenes where we’re speaking in Italian and arguing in Italian, which fans have really enjoyed, so that’s been fun for me and her as well.”
As the series nears filming of its season 14 finale, behind the romance and friction lie serious storylines addressing current social and political issues. The show recently took on domestic abuse with Gianniotti raising the idea of naming the episode "1-800-799-7233" (the phone number for the national domestic violence hotline) after a friend made a similar move, directing a music video for rapper Logic's track titled with the number for the national suicide hotline.
“The issues we’re tackling this season are incredible,” he says. “We had one on police bias where a little black boy was shot, and that was really powerful and something we’ve been talking about in America with the Black Lives Matter movement. And we had the episode on domestic abuse, which Camilla Luddington did a PSA for at the end of the episode.”
“We’re tackling big political issues that are happening in today’s world and getting to see them through fictional characters. [So] nobody gets hurt, but we’re able to hopefully change people’s minds or perspectives and humanize it,” he continues. “If one person saw that domestic abuse hotline, felt like they were in trouble and called it, then we’ve done our job. We’re getting very close to the end of the season now, [and] we’re going to tackle some things with the healthcare system in in America -- comparing it to other countries and how we’re better in certain practices and have a lot to learn in other practices.”
Gianniotti has also been busy with big screen projects, starring in the new, award-winning dramedy Edging, available on iTunes, and nearing completion on Acquainted, a film from his production company, Fired Up Studios. The movie centers on love, betrayal and the difficulty of maintaining long-term relationships in the modern day and age.
“It’s a really beautiful film about love and how ugly it is and how it’s difficult,” says Gianniotti, who also made his directorial debut with a music video for Toronto singer SIDNY and Anthony Kalabretta last year. “Although it’s beautiful and funny and has comical moments, it’s definitely a dramatic film.”