Director, actor, and screenwriter Leonardo Pieraccioni is a much-loved presence in the Italian film industry respected for his fantastical romantic comedies and his insistence on shooting in Tuscany. An only child, he couldn't seem to shake the dream of becoming an actor since the age of four and always struggled in school. But as an eager 17 year-old bursting with creative energy, Pieraccioni found his home performing in the Italian cabaret. As he stated in 2003: "Cinema is a hobby: my true love is cabaret." He appeared in three low-budget comedies in the early 1990s, and while these projects didn't exactly make him famous, they led Pieraccioni to producers Victor and Rita Cecchi Gori, who helped bring his 1995 directorial debut "The Graduates" to life. But it was Pieraccioni's 1996 box-office hit "The Cyclone," about a simple man whose life is shaken up by tornadoes and flamenco dancers, that brought him to the attention of audiences across Italy. Although his 1998 comic western "Il Mio West" was a critical and commercial dud, it gave him the opportunity to appear alongside Harvey Keitel and David Bowie in cowboy hats. After two more modestly successful comedies in his characteristically outrageous style, Pieraccioni approached the romantic comedy genre from a mature angle in his 2003 film "Suddenly Paradise," which was well-received but didn't reach the heights of "The Cyclone." When Pieraccioni isn't busy starring in his own films, he writes books of short stories.