Matilda de Angelis’ first love was music, learning to play the violin and piano at a very young age. Matteo Rovere discovered her acting talent and cast her as the lead in “Italian Race”. Next came lead roles in Berardo Carboni’s “Youtopia” and Marco Ponti’s “Reckless”. Her awards include Best Revelation Actress at the 2016 Taormina Film Festival and the Nastro d’Argento, as well as nominations for the Davide di Donatello for Best Actress and Best Original Song. She recently voiced a role in the Disney/Pixar animated feature “Coco”. She is currently shooting the third season of the Italian “Parenthood” and can be seen in Italy’s theaters in “The Prize”.
She is one of the ten 2018 European Shooting Stars.
Tara Karajica caught up with her at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
Can you talk about your background in music and how you made the jump to acting?
Matilda De Angelis: I started playing music when I was a little girl, when I was sixteen years old. I started playing the guitar, and after, the violin and the piano. When I was sixteen years old, I got into a band, a well-known band in my hometown, Rumba de Bodas, and we traveled around Europe in a yellow van. It was one of the best experiences in my life and I was with this band for five years. And then, one day, a friend of mine called me on the phone telling me that a casting director from Italy saw some of my pictures on Facebook and she wanted to meet me because they were searching for the leading role in this new film and the director didn’t want to get a professional actress because he needed a specific dialect from a specific region in Italy (Emilia Romagna). So, I went to the audition and after, she told me: “You have to do it again, but with a script” and I had three or four auditions after that and then, I got the part.
Matteo Rovere discovered you on the street. Can you talk about this experience?
M.d.A.: Yes, on the street… It was real luck for me, because it was my very first experience with acting. I was into music, waiting to go to university… And after, my life was changed and I’m here having a leading role in a film. That’s crazy! It was the best experience I’ve ever had in my life and it continues to bring me luck.
You were a gymnast in the past. How does it fit into your career now? Does it define you?
M.d.A.: It does define me physically because I think sports are important because they give you a forma mentis to confront life. They give you patience and the sense of working on something with all your body and all your energy. You can also find it in acting. It is really important to have stability, a consciousness about your body, how to use it, how to handle it. Also, when I competed, it was the first time I’ve ever experienced confronting myself with a judgment from other people and being prepared for failure and the good things. It’s a bit the same in life.
What can you say about all your roles? You say, for instance, that Youtopia was the hardest one. Can you elaborate on that?
M.d.A.: Yes. Maybe, it’s the hardest because after the experience with Italian Race, I wanted to go deeper and deeper and try and understand more about acting, about myself and how to prepare a character. So, I prepared it with an acting coach, a really tough one. She teaches Strasberg mainly. I needed to go deep inside my fears and to get comfortable with my naked body. I had to be naked always because Matilde is a young girl selling her virginity online in order to save her family from losing the house, so it’s not a fun story. It was really tough and really intense to prepare. I think it’s a really great film and I loved shooting it. It will be released in May. I think there’s a little bit of me in every character I played and a lit of bit of the character inside me right now.
Which one is your favorite?
M.d.A.: I cannot decide. But, Giulia de Martino from Italian Race was the first one. The first is always special, you know… So, maybe her, in a sentimental way. But also Matilde from Youtopia. I loved her. I think every character I choose I need to find something about them that inspires me and that makes me say: “Yes, I want to tell this story. It needs to be me to tell the story to the world.”
It’s really disgusting and really depressing that right now we still have to go down to the streets and scream about being equal because it should be normal.
You voiced Coco in Italy. Who was your character? How was this particular experience?
M.d.A.: My character was Tía Victoria, an old lady. She’s dead actually and it was really, really funny and really really nice. It was a bit of a dream since I was a child because I grew up with Disney and after, with Pixar. So, I was really excited to be a part of this. And, it’s a great film, a great production, great animation… Basically, it’s one of my favorite right now.
In that sense, what can you say about films still being dubbed in Italy?
M.d.A.: Oh! I hate it! That is comprehensible because it’s for the kids, so maybe, it’s difficult for them to understand English or other languages. But, I don’t go to the cinema when the film is not in the original language. For me it’s veto! No way! I don’t want to see a dubbed film. It loses everything. It loses the voice of actors, the voice that is shaking when they are crying, or they’re screaming or they’re happy, or they’re full of rage…
You have won awards. How do you feel about them and how does Shooting Stars fit into that and where do you think it will lead your career?
M.d.A.: I feel very excited because I know it’s a huge opportunity and it’s once in a lifetime, so I don’t want to let go. And, being among the Shooting Stars is a great honor for me. I cannot ask for more. Right now, I am really happy, really excited! I met the other Shooting Stars; they’re all so talented and so funny, and we immediately created a connection, so I’m really happy. And, of course, I dream about working abroad. It would be really amazing for me and I think that Shooting Stars is a great opportunity to do that, maybe to be even a little closer to that because we have the chance to meet international casting directors. It’s huge! I don’t know! I want to stay grounded but I also want to dream…
Who would you like to work with in Italy and outside?
M.d.A.: In Italy… he’s not so well-known, but I’d like to work with Claudio Cupellini because I think he is a genius and outside Italy, I dream about working with Xavier Dolan. He’s one of my favorite… There are too many…
How do you see the situation of women in the film industry in general and in Italy?
M.d.A.: In Italy, it’s not a topic. But, actually, it’s difficult to explain in a different language, because it’s not easy. I think that the kinds of movement that have been created in the past months, are good, but I hope that in this 2.0 society it won’t become just something fashionable or something ephemeral because it’s easy to put a profile picture or share a link to feel: “OK, I’ve done my job.” So, it’s really an important issue – not just for women, but also when it comes to violence in general. It’s something really cultural; violence is deeply rooted in our culture, there is no way to escape it. So, something from the high above has to change, and we, with our voices that are maybe louder than the voices of the common people, have an important mission to talk about it every time we can. Something has to change and it’s not coming from us.
What about inequality?
M.d.A.: The situation is always the same. There are less actresses than actors; there are less female directors, but it’s like this in every job in Italy. It’s really frustrating because I’m talking about equal opportunities in all sectors and it’s really disgusting and really depressing that right now we still have to go down to the streets and scream about being equal because it should be normal. I want to be optimistic, but I don’t know if my child will be raised in a different world. I don’t know, I really don’t…
What are your next projects? I understand you have an album coming out.
M.d.A.: Youtopia will be released in May – finally, after two years! I’m waiting for it, and I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait to know what the press and the audience will think about it. And after, another film of mine will be released this autumn, it’s called Reckless. It’s a funny story, it’s an action film. It was really fun to shoot because it was really challenging everyday; it was really physical, it was really exhausting, but I think it will be something good for Italy, and it will maybe also be released abroad. I’m hoping for that and right now I’m enjoying Berlin and that’s all I want to think about. As for the singing, I’m working on an album as a singer-songwriter. I’m really into electronic music so I think I will mix it with some influences, but I’m still writing.
This interview was conducted at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival and in collaboration with NISI MASA.