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Giovanni Ribisi Cover Story

On newsstands today is our new issue, which features a cover story on "Contraband" star Giovanni Ribisi; you can read it here. Ribisi is one of those actors I think I've taken for granted--he always shows up and does such reliable work, you don't think about just how good he is. I began to realize this when I was asked to moderate a career Q&A with him back in December. First of all, it sold out really fast--quite an achievement during the busy awards season. Secondly, Ribisi was a great guest, charming, modest, and with a great sense of humor about himself. As we were talking about some of the movies he'd done, I was struck by just how long and distinguished his career is. The sensitive medic in "Saving Private Ryan." The tortured soul in "The Gift." And, of course, "the world's biggest douchebag" in "Avatar." I could go on--"Boiler Room," "The Other Sister," "SubUrbia"...but you get the idea.

Something else about Ribisi: he's much more handsome in person than he appears onscreen. I'd love to see him in a full-fledged romantic leading role...though I suspect he prefers the character parts, like his slimy drug dealer in "Contraband."

Oh, and in case you didn't know, Ribisi is a Scientologist. This came up in our conversation because he studied withe the late, great Milton Kastelas, who was also a member of the Church of Scientology. I wrongly assumed he knew Kastleas through the controversial church, but it turns out it was just a coincidence, he actually found Kastleas through a friend.

As someone who is geniunely interested in all religions and philosophies, I told him I was curious about Scientology, and asked if he would mind telling me more. He was very open and forthcoming, and in my opinion, gave me the best answer anyone could. He said: "First and foremost, I really believe in values and I like and appreciate individuals respecting others. So for me, Scientology works. It’s a pragmatic philosophy I study and I apply, and I get a result. I was raised as a Scientologist, and when you grow up and people are yelling at you for your religion or people are saying things in  the press, yeah, you do start to question things. But it comes down to something so simple, which is that it works for me. It’s that simple."

I didn't include this in the story because I was focusing on his work, but I thought it was an interesting, intelligent response from an interesting, intelligent actor.

--Jenelle Riley

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