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Michele Morrone always hoped to become a working actor, but he never expected literal overnight success.
But in 2020, when his first major movie 365 Days was released on Netflix, Morrone's life changed.
"It was a major turning point in my life," the Italian star, 31, tells PEOPLE. "Before the movie came out I had 4,000 followers on Instagram. And the night after the movie was released on the platform, I woke up and had 2.6 million followers."
Now following the success of the first two hit films, with a third installment expected in near future, Morrone is hoping to continue acting in a variety of genres and formats, along with his passion for music (he released a full album in 2020) and fashion (he's modeled for Guess, Dolce & Gabbana, and many others).
Edward Berthelot/GC Images
PEOPLE recently caught up with Morrone to talk about fame, his hopes for the future, the joys of being a father and why he is "absolutely single." Read on to learn all about the rising star:
Harry Potter helped inspire his acting career
"I was around 10, 11 years old and already felt something inside me for this job," he says. "But then I watched the first Harry Potter movie. I thought, 'Hey, I would love to do this movie.' After that I started researching everything about people who make movies and stuff. It was incredible to me to see magic onscreen, that wasn't real but felt real. I started thinking, 'How do they do these things?' And then I started building up my passion for it."
He continues: "I used to go to a small theater in my small town in the south of Italy, but I never really took courses or classes of acting, because here in Italy, they're very, very expensive, all these classes. And my mom couldn't really afford it. The only way that I had, was just starting to watch a lot of movies and just picking one actor and focusing on his acting in the movies."
Edward Berthelot/GC Images
He built floors before booking his first acting gig in a beer commercial
"After graduation [from college] I went to live in Rome, the capital of cinema here in Italy," he says. "I wanted to live there because I wanted to become an actor. I found a small job building parquet floors. But my first acting job, I booked the first part I auditioned for, in a beer commercial. I called my mother and I was like, 'Mom, they took me for this commercial! It's incredible. They're all going to see me.' And the funny thing is that the company uses people [to act in their commercials] but then they transform it into animation. So I was so excited to book it, and for people to see me in it but I was a cartoon and nobody did recognize me. But then I started booking small roles in Italian TV series, very small TV series here in Italy."
Morrone is trilingual
"I speak Italian, English and Arabic. It's a weird combination," he says with a laugh. "My ex-wife is Lebanese and I have two kids who live in Lebanon, Beirut. So I had to learn it. And I didn't used to speak English, but I started watching movies, reading in English because my goal was to work in the States. I wanted to become a working actor but I didn't want to just stay in Italy. I had to learn English by myself because I really wanted to work in the States. You have to know English to work over there."
He is the proud father of two
"I love spending time with my kids," says Morrone. "My son Marcus is eight, and Brando is five [whom he shares with ex Rouba Saadeh]. Being a dad is one of the most amazing things life can give you. We love to go to the beach and just relax, play, or I'll grab my guitar and start making music."
Fitness has always been a major part of his life
"I've always enjoyed exercise. I wake up very early in the morning, I make a very huge breakfast and then I run to the gym four times a week," he says. "But I'm not a fan of for example, a diet. I like to eat a lot but I don't like to follow diets or stuff like that. I think it's really important to feel comfortable with yourself. And we have only one body and we should take care of it."
He and his 365 Days costars are all real-life friends
"We have an amazing friendship," Morrone says of his 365 costar Anna-Maria Sieklucka. "We are partners in crime. We love each other so much, but there's nothing more than that. And [365 Days: This Day] costar Simone Susinna, we're more than friends, we are brothers. Simone is such a sweetheart and is an amazing person. I love him as a brother. And I wish him a great journey in this industry."
He is a tattoo enthusiast
"Oh, God. I lost my number [of tattoos] I have," says Morrone. "I think I have 30 tattoos all over my body. And I don't want to stop it. I see my body as a book. I like to ink every important thing that happened in my life. I recently added a tattoo that I inked myself which reads 'Angelica, Margarita and Stefania,' which are my sisters, my siblings. There was a huge misunderstanding about it, people thought it said 'Anna-Maria.'"
When it comes to filming those very steamy scenes, Morrone prioritizes his scene partner's comfort
"To me it's really important when we shoot such a deep and intimate scene, for the people that work with me to feel comfortable," he says. "When they're all comfortable, when we're all organized, where everything is in place, we can start. If just one thing is not in the right place, I can't start shooting because I want everybody, me included, to feel comfortable with everything. It's so important when you shoot intimate scenes. [For 365 Days: This Day] we worked with an intimacy coordinator and that was very helpful."
What he can say about the third 365 Days is...
"There will be a scene in the third part that you won't believe. You will never expect it. That's all I can say."
He considers his millions of fans his greatest supporters
"I started to see my fans as part of my family," says the actor. "They support me, they give me advice. They're just wonderful to me."
The actor hopes to one day appear in a period piece or Marvel movie
"I'm always studying and always trying to be better as an actor, as an artist," says Morrone. "I was chosen for a sexual role and I understand that. I want to do more than sexy. I'd love to do an action-comedy or a historical drama. It's very satisfying always to change your personality to show the public that you are a chameleon, you can do a lot of things. I love Marvel movies and it would be really fun to play the evil wizard in one of these magical movies."
Morrone is "absolutely single"
"Oh, right now I'm absolutely single," he says. "It's not because I want to be single, but I have no time. I'm focusing so much on my career, my kids. And I probably haven't found the right person yet."
365 Days and 365: This Day are streaming on Netflix.