Gassmann was born in Rome, Italy, the son of Italian actor Vittorio Gassman and French actress Juliette Mayniel. He is of Jewish, German and French descent.
He debuted at 17 in the autobiographical film Di padre in figlio, written and directed with his father, under whose tutoring he later studied in the Theatre Workshop of Florence. Among his theatrical activity, he was noted for his playing in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Affabulazione (1984). In 1996 he began an artistic partnership with his friend Gianmarco Tognazzi with whom he co-acted in popular movies like Uomini senza donne, Facciamo festa, Teste di cocco, Lovest, I miei più cari amici and Natale a Beverly Hills, in the theatrical version of Some Like It Hot and as dubbers of the Disney cartoon Eldorado. In 1997 he imposed internationally with Ferzan Özpetek’s Hamam. He was subsequently chosen by Yves Saint Laurent as testimonial for his perfume Opium, and posed in a nude calendar for the Italian magazine Max. He also became a testimonial for Lancia of Musa, as well as appearing in an ad for the Glen Grant liquor. As an actor, he worked for several TV miniseries and, in France, in the action movie Transporter 2 (opposite Jason Statham), produced by Luc Besson. In 2006, Gassmann appeared in the comedy Non prendere impegni stasera. He then took part in TV dramas such as Piccolo mondo antico, Le stagioni del cuore, La guerra è finita and La Sacra Famiglia; he also acted in the US action film Transporter 2 and in Italy in the comedy Non prendere impegni stasera. In 2008 he acted in the film Caos calmo as the brother of the main lead, interpreted by Nanni Moretti. For this role, he was honoured by many awards: the David di Donatello award for a supporting actor, the Ciak d’oro, the Nastro d’Argento and the Globo d’oro of the foreign press. In the same year, he adapted for the stage the teleplay 12 Angry Men, written by Reginald Rose in 1954 that was made into a film by Sidney Lumet in 1957: the performance was taken up again in 2009, year in which he also appeared as leading actor in 4 padri single by Paolo Monico, Ex by Fausto Brizzi and Il compleanno by Marco Filiberti as well in the TV miniseries Pinocchio directed by Alberto Sironi. He is acting Tutor in Cinecittà at Act Multimedia.
Since 1998, Gassmann has been married to actress Sabrina Knaflitz. They have a son, Leo.
Life and career
Placido was born at Ascoli Satriano, into a poor family from Rionero in Vulture, Basilicata; he is a descendant of the known brigand Carmine Crocco. Placido had a number of jobs since his youth. He studied acting at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, and with Silvio D’Amico at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his debut as an actor in the play Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1969. Two years later he started film work under directors such as Luigi Comencini, Mario Monicelli, Salvatore Samperi, Damiano Damiani, Pasquale Squitieri, Francesco Rosi, Walerian Borowczyk, Marco Bellocchio, Paolo Cavara and Carlo Lizzani. His first success came with the role of soldier Paolo Passeri in Marcia trionfale (1976, directed by Bellocchio), for which he won a David di Donatello. Two years later he won the Silver Bear for Best Actor award at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival for his role of the homosexual worker in ironical melodrama Ernesto (1978, by Samperi). He appeared in several TV movies in the 1970s, but 1983 marked the beginning of his greatest television popularity when he played the lead as a police inspector investigating the Mafia in Damiano Damiani’s TV series La piovra. He went on to play the same part in the subsequent three series, until his character’s assassination. Afterwards he would appear as a law enforcement official in a number of other films and TV productions dealing with organized crime, including a semi-biographical movie about Giovanni Falcone, where he acted as the titular judge. In 2008, in a reversal of roles, he portrayed longtime Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano in the TV movie L’ultimo padrino. A recognizable role to US audiences is that of an Italian businessman in the 1988 comedy Big Business. Until a divorce in 1994, he was married to actress Simonetta Stefanelli. Their daughter Violante Placido is also an actress. In 2012 he married actress Federica Vincenti (born 8 November 1983) after over 10 years of dating. The couple divorced in December 2017.