Currently shooting her upcoming Netflix series “Lidia,” about Italy’s first female lawyer, Lidia Poët, actor Matilda De Angelis was joined by her agent Gianni Chiffi for a masterclass at Torino Film Festival.
“When we decided to open our agency in 2014, Matilda was the first person we met. She was about to begin her cinematic journey and if I hadn’t met her, I wouldn’t be here. That’s the truth,” said Chiffi, who co-founded Volver alongside Consuelo De Andreis. When receiving the David di Donatello award in 2021 for Netflix drama “Rose Island,” De Angelis thanked both, calling them “her angels.”
Born in 1995 in Bologna, the actor made her international breakthrough in Susanne Bier’s “The Undoing,” alongside Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.
“As agents, we are the ones driving the car and they are the passengers, but there comes the moment when you finally let them drive,” said Chiffi, describing “The Undoing” as De Angelis’ professional “epiphany.” “A producer once told me: ‘Luck is when talent meets opportunity,’ ” he added.
De Angelis admitted that when she first moved to Rome, still a teenager, she was “pissed off at the world,” fresh off auditions for her debut film “Italian Race,” directed by Matteo Rovere.
“I felt ‘ripped away’ from my life. A director comes along and says: ‘You are the lead actress in my new movie.’ But you have never studied acting, you don’t expect it. I’m a slight perfectionist, which means I don’t like to do things I’m not prepared to do. Besides, I was afraid. When I met Gianni, I was angry because I was scared. He understood I wasn’t an actress; I was a human being, too.”
Encouraged to discuss the differences between shooting in Italy and abroad (“There is one: the budget. The more money you have, the more time you have. A scene that in an Italian production, even a big one, is shot in a day, in America is shot in three days. Everything else is the same,” she observed), De Angelis also noted that, as an actor, it’s good to keep some secrets.
“Cinema builds imaginary worlds so that people can dream. I believe that the actor has the need to preserve their intimacy in order not to reveal all the tricks. But times have changed: the divide between what’s private and public becomes increasingly vague. Some actors expose themselves more as this instrument of empathy, to raise awareness of the topics that are closest to them. I try to balance these two aspects.”
Despite her responsibilities, sometimes she still doesn’t feel like a “grown-up,” she said, admitting she recently decided to take up therapy.
“At a certain point, I understood that I was much more cruel to myself than anyone else. First of all, you need to work on yourself. Also, the only judgment that counts is that of the people who love you. It’s a hectic job and it doesn’t leave you much time to think about yourself, about what you want. But when you remove your makeup, you look at yourself in the mirror and ask: ‘Without all that, who am I really?,’ ” she said.
“I don’t know if I will be able to sustain this pace all my life. To be in front of the camera, do interviews, share a part of me with the people I don’t even know. I have so many aspirations, so I can’t tell if I will be an actress all my life.”
De Angelis, who started out as a singer, doesn’t feel she has given up on her musical career just yet, despite having prioritized acting for the last couple of years.
“In life, there are different phases and priorities. I haven’t ‘given up’ anything for acting, it’s a choice and I keep making my choices every day. I could also take a break and concentrate on music or sculpture, or hiking in the mountains,” she said, noting it “takes a lot of madness” to endure in this industry.
“Everyone who works with me on set is crazy; we all are. Am I willing to give up my entire life for the duration of this series? Yes, I am. For this movie? Yes. Am I willing to work 13 hours a day? Yes. Having started so young I have lost some things on the way and now I am trying to pick up the pieces. But I continue to make these choices, every day, precisely because I am crazy.”