Matilda De Angelis, class of 1995, is the young Shooting Star representing Italy among the emerging talents of this year's Berlin Film Festival. Preceded by actresses such as Jasmine Trinca, Alba Rohrwacher, Maya Sansa, and Isabella Ragonese - "actresses I think highly of, and who I consider as my models" - Matilde started her career as a singer and musician, and rose later to fame with her astonishing performance in Matteo Rovere's Italian Race, for which she won a Silver Ribbon and played along Stefano Accorsi (by the way, the first Italian male Shooting Star). Last year, she starred in Sebastiano Riso's A Family and dubbed one of the protagonist's aunts in Disney Pixar's Coco. We'll see her again soon in Bernardo Carboni's debut feature Youtopia, in which she confirms her talent by playing a girl suspended between two worlds, the real and the virtual, who auctions off her virginity in order to solve her family issues: "I play the last of the romantics, one who is surrounded by hell and finds solace only in the online universe. Here she falls in love with a young man, whom she has never met, but one who is able to show her the beauty in the world." She'll also be Soledad, the protagonist of Marco Ponti's upcoming Una vita spericolata (lit. A fearless life), that made the headlines last summer when, during the shooting, actor Domenico Diele was arrested for vehicular homicide: "We moved forward with the shooting trying to show the best possible attitude despite all the pain and the sorrow." But Matilda is not planning to stop now. She's considering an international career, while in Italy she'd like to work with Claudio Cupellini ("I was enraptured by his Alaska) and Paolo Virzì.
You started your career as a singer and musician. How did you start acting?
A friend of mine called me one day. He was collaborating with the casting director of Italian Race. She was not necessarily looking for a professional actress and, looking at my picture, found me interesting. Then I made three auditions and, on the same day I got my driver's test, the director Matteo Rovere called me to suggest I'd better pass it: I was chosen for his film!
In your next film, you're playing a girl suspended between the real and the virtual worlds, who auctions off her virginity in order to help the family. Can you tell us something more on this character?
Matilde, the protagonist of Bernardo Carboni's Youtopia, is the last of the romantics. She's surrounded by hell and finds solace only in the online universe. Here she falls in love with a young man, whom she has never met, but one who is able to show her the beauty in the world. The story recounts a kind of love 2.0, but also shines a spotlight on many tragic cases, often underestimated by the media, in which young girls prostitutes on the web in order to pay off their studies or their families' debts.
Was this role difficult to play?
It's my second film as a protagonist. This time I felt I had to make a qualitative leap compared to Italian Race, which was an experience I made just by chance and that overwhelmed me. In Youtopia instead, I wanted to work more on the awareness and the construction of the character. I did a long preparatory work with an acting coach, who put me naked in front of a camera for two weeks in order to help me connect with my body and the shady part of it. It's been a difficult role to play, psychologically more than physically, one that required me stay very focused throughout all the shooting.
Do you think that, for the younger generations, seeking refuge in a virtual world is a way to run away from a present that seems difficult and cynical?
This sort of doubling between real life and the online world is a daily occurence in our society. By means of the social networks, we show the world fragments of our lives that are carefully selected as we think these show our best side. This is a way to gain self-confidence and avoid our fears, but I don't think it's a solution to face the real world: we should try to get in touch with ourselves more deeply, to watch into each other's eyes again without taking shelter behind our virtual avatars and all the easy comments we share online.
Last summer you also starred in Marco Ponti's Una vita spericolata. What's your role?
I play Soledad, a young yet already failed actress, who has quickly lived and ruined the fame she got by participating in a talent show. She's in total decadence, but still keep on thinking highly of herself. The films starts with a robbery in which Soledad is involved with a mechanic full of debts (Lorenzo Richelmy) and a former rally pilot (Eugenio Franceschini). This experience turns into a crazy journey through Italy while fleeing from the cops.
During the shooting, one of the leading actors, Domenico Diele, got arrested for vehicular homicide. What happened on the set?
We moved forward with the shooting trying to show the best possible attitude despite all the pain and the sorrow. Domenico Diele was replaced by Eugenio Franceschini, who got the role last minute and did a great job. In only a couple of days, at the end of the shooting, we re-shot the original scenes to be replaced.
How do you feel representing Italy among young European talents, and what does this experience mean for a young actor?
Representing my country is a huge honour for me, and even more if I think of my predecessors, who are all actors I think highly of, and who I consider as my models. Moreover, I like the idea of representing my generation of young actors who wish to go abroad and look for their paths, trying to discard the stereotype of the young Italian who's unwilling to leave the country.
Which Italian director you'd like to work with now?
Claudio Cupellini: as I was watching his Alaska, I got literally enraptured. Likewise, I'd really like working with Giovannesi, Sollima, and - aiming to the top - Virzì.
Is there an Italian actress in particular who you consider as a model?
Maya Sansa, for me, is a model of woman and actress who succeeded in expanding her horizons. She worked a lot abroad, where she's even more appreciated than in Italy. I feel she made the right choices and I wish to do the same for my career.
What would you suggest to a young actor who wish to do this job?
Be committed, work hard and keep humble. Acting is a dangerous job, one that completely overwhelms you and puts you within a highly competitive system that often chews and then spits out its victims. My suggestion is to remain open, observing and trying to decode the reality around us. As mentioned earlier, I've been very lucky in my career, but I've also learn that there's no room for complacency and you should always keep curious.