A walk with Michael Nouri in Rome

It is rare to meet people who radiate “peaceful” light, not the one that blinds the eyes and manifests in flashes, but warms you up and seems to envelop you. This cozy and kind energy is surely inside Michael Nouri. Began acting early in life, he confidently followed the call of his heart. After achieving success, he pushed on with his career.
However, I was even more struck by his gift, his human qualities. After I met with Mr. Nouri, I sat down, spent 15 minutes in silence, and then returned to my usual life, but I returned to this with a completely different awareness, and since that April 27, 2021 (the day of the interview), I start the day every morning with the words “Be kind”, just be kind! This is amazing!”

Michael Nouri wearing jacket from Gaetano Aloisio

Christina: Your mother is from Ireland (half Scottish) and your father was born in Iraq. How did your parents meet in the first place?

Michael: They met in Washington. My father was going to university at that time; my mother was working for the American government. They met, fell in love and I arrived.

C.: Did you spend your childhood in Washington?

M.: No, I grew up in New Jersey and New York, where I went to school. And then I started to act.

Michael Nouri visiting his dear friends at Battistoni in Rome

C.: At 22 years old. Did it happen by chance or was it a kind of childhood dream?

M.: Mmm… It was a childhood dream, I think, especially to act in the theater, because I like to sing. I have done musicals, acting on the stage, television, then “Flashdance” came into the play.

C.: Oh yes, I think “Flashdance” was a highlight for your career at that moment, because after that, a lot of film directors and producers noticed you.

M.: Correct, they offered me a part in “Flashdance” and I was very happy to take it. I could have never imagined that it was going to be as successful as it was. I thought it was going to be a nice little movie, and instead all of a sudden “BOOM”… became a number one movie.

C.: You know you became extremely famous also here, in Italy. How was it and what influence did it play on your acting career, since you started to act at a very young age?

M.: Well, I learned from everything I did. I think I really enjoyed doing stage and plays, and I am always learning now, from every moment. I learned from great actors too. I worked with wonderful people: Sean Connery, Glenn Close. I just feel that I am always learning.

C.: You remember that young guy, Michael Nouri at 22. How was he? 

M.: Oh, he was very nervous. I mean during acting. Because I had no experience and I didn’t study acting, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just had a lot of energy and confidence, a certain kind of confidence which is very deep inside, because I was so… shy. And I am actually shy today.

C.: Did you have any times of crisis during your career?

M.: No.

C.: I was surprised, reading a lot about you, as you always say you enjoyed every second of acting and working. Did you have a moment or at least a thought to rest, recharge, or change something? It is rare to meet a person who is talking about their job so enthusiastically and with so much constant joy. Does this lifestyle match you so well for real?

M.: Yes, absolutely! It is difficult for me when I am not working, I feel very bad in those moments. That is why I also paint, play the guitar.

C.: I know you play the guitar every evening before going to sleep. True?

M.: Yes, I have it by my bed and I play for my dog, Charlie.

C.: Charming Charlie.

M.: He is a very sweet dog.

C.: I have to admit, you look younger than your age.

M.: I feel younger! I think it’s because I meditate, I have meditated for 50 years and I do it every day.

C.: Did you travel for meditation?

M.: I traveled all around the world for this. I have been to India of course, but I learned how to meditate in the States. And I was introduced to meditation by my mom. She’d started meditating before I did and she told me about it.

C.: What is the most important thing you learned from meditation?

M.: To relax, to be peaceful inside, how to look inside yourself and find harmony, and to breathe… I have a wonderful teacher, Prem Rawat, he travels around the world sharing his technique and he is very special to me. He showed me how to experience peace inside.

C.: I’ve had the impression that Italy is your second home. Am I right?

M.: I don’t know how to explain. Is it the energy of Rome or something? I love so many places in Italy, but Rome has a very particular energy and I don’t know why we feel more at home in some places than we do in other places. I have been to Japan, I don’t feel at home there, I don’t feel at home in Scandinavia… I don’t feel at home in the States, and I live there! But when I come here, I feel at home in Rome. As well as in France, I feel at home in London. But I don’t feel at home in the States, it’s crazy! So I might move to Rome with my Charlie! I first came here in 1964. I was 17, I had my guitar. I used to sing in the streets.

C.: Was it your European tour or just Rome?

M.: I started from Paris, then I came to Rome, Capri, then back to London. I didn’t know anybody, I just met people. It was incredibly exciting!

Michael Nouri and Christina Rusu

C.: Being in Rome, living here, what are your strongest feelings connected to this place?

M.: It is just a wonderful feeling, I am happy, I feel at home. The streets are always different, my feet are happy. And I am sure Charlie would love Rome.

C.: Do you have a favorite Italian dish?

M.: Puntarelle, rigatoni alla gricia, carbonara, tutto! I haven’t been able to experience a meal I didn’t like here.

C.: You started to travel alone and a lot when you were 17. What life teachings would you share with us now that you are 75?

M.: The main thing I learned is that people are people wherever in the world, and people are fundamentally kind. It is why I enjoy traveling so much: it doesn’t matter what language we speak, we speak from our heart. And all the people are united with one goal, they just want to be happy. It is why Prem is very important to me. I am not happy all the time. Who is?! But it is really nice to begin the day and feel peace inside and experience it inside, then go out, meet people and share this. 

C.: What is your attitude to life?

M.: Be kind, just be kind! It is amazing! It stills everything. And you think: what can be a magic key to the kingdom of happiness? There is just one thing that we can do! That would make the world better, your day better, your life better! Be kind! That’s all!

C.: Thank you, Michael!

Michael Nouri and Christina Rusu

Photography: Daria Kro

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