One of most beloved Neapolitan comedians of all time, he was very distinct for his particular shy and delicate manner. He was born in San Giorgio a Cremano in the province of Naples on 19 February 1953. His father Alfredo was a train driver and his mother, Elena Andinolfi, a housewife. Massimo had five brothers and the house was always full of relatives. He enjoyed writing poetry, drawing inspiration from Pier Paolo Pasolini, and gained a diploma as a surveyor at the Eugenio Pantaleo Technical Institute in Torre del Greco. In 1969 he started acting in a parish theatre group together with his friend Lello Arena. Unfortunately, in 1972 it was discovered he had a heart abnormality and had to go to the United States for an operation that fortunately had a successful outcome. He was a member of a theatre group, Centro Teatro Spazio, and then an offshoot of this called I Saraceni. This would form the nucleus of the historic trio of Massimo, Lello and Enzo Decaro, which would in turn evolve into La smorfia. After performing to great acclaim at Teatro Sancarluccio in Naples, they moved on to the La Chanson cabaret in Rome and later crowned their careers with the television shows Non Stop, La Sberla and Luna Park, from 1977 to 1979. The producer Mauro Berardi gave Troisi the opportunity to write, direct and star in his first film, Starting From Three in 1981. His talent was immediately recognised by critics and public alike, and he scooped up Silver Ribbon and David di Donatello awards. The following year, the director Lodovico Gasparini cast him with his friend Lello Arena, who is the central character in No Thanks, Coffee Makes Me Nervous. After 'Scusate il ritardo', his second film as director in 1983, he co-wrote the treatment for Nothing Left to Do but Cry with Roberto Benigni. The script was completed with director Giuseppe Bertolucci in 1984. 'Le vie del Signore sono finite' in 1987 was set in the Fascist period and won a Silver Ribbon for best screenplay. He began working with director Ettore Scola and made three films with him as an actor: Splendor, 'Che ora è' and 'Il viaggio di Capitan Fracassa' were all filmed between 1989 and 1990. In 1991, he directed a romantic comedy playing opposite Francesca Neri: 'I Thought It Was Love ...', with music by Pino Daniele. The shooting of the film lasted more than two months in the city of Naples. The film was released at Christmas 1991 with low takings for the period, but in late 1992 it became a huge success, making 15 billion lire in receipts. In 1994 he knew he had to go to the United States for another heart operation but decided to postpone it until after the shooting of his new film Il Postino, directed by Michael Radford and co-starring the great Philippe Noiret. Unfortunately, the strain was too much for Massimo and he died in his sleep on 4 June 1994, just twelve hours after the end of the shoot. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival with the director Radford and writer Antonio Skarmeta. In 1996 it was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor, but the only one they managed to bring home was for the music of Luis Bacalov.