Eugenio Mastrandrea, eats plays loves

His father “is cool.” But he is not related to Valerio Mastandrea. His name is Carlo Mastrandrea (with the “r”), he is an entrepreneur and is probably the only parent on planet Earth to have said to his son: “Listen, leave it alone with this university and enroll in the academy of acting “. And this explains why, to talk about Eugenio Mastrandrea, we took it so wide: without his father he would not be an actor now. Eugenio is absolutely right when he says “my father is cool”, and in any case this story was too unique not to be reported. From there then he started it all and, moreover, very quickly. The test sample – “we will let you know” – another test was in fact fairly lightning-fast for Eugenio, if it is true that, after the success of The fugitive, has already strung together two international productions. The first is the TV series From Scratch – The strength of a love, the Netflix miniseries that sees him in the role of the protagonist chef Lino alongside Zoe Saldana; the second is the film The Equalizer 3which is currently being filmed on the Amalfi Coast.

Well, you only had to pay the generalist fiction “tax” once, and then you immediately made the international leap. Do you think it is little?
In reality, I don’t think I’m so envied, but it’s also true that, in any case, I couldn’t know it because I don’t frequent the circle of actors: all my affections and my acquaintances are not from the environment.

Zoe Saldana and Eugenio Mastrandrea in ‘From Scratch – The strength of a love’. Photo: Netflix

Was the mess at least hard and painful?
Ah, that yes! Full! I graduated from the academy in 2017 and for two years I struggled between auditions, the “we’ll let you know”, the series of shows you do with your fellow students and independent festivals. And the situation did not improve when you hit the great theatrical show: if it went well they paid me two and a half euros, when it went bad I got zero, because “we are already making you act, now you also want to be paid?!?”. For two full years it went on like this: I would say that I gave.

Has acting always been your dream?
I actually wanted to be a doctor as a child. I don’t know why: I don’t even have doctors in my family but, go and understand, I had this fixation. To anyone who asked me “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, I promptly replied: “The doctor”. After high school I then tried the Medicine test but nothing, I could not enter. I then threw myself into Biology, but I felt terrible and I was unhappy. I managed to do two cross examinations. After that of general chemistry, I called my father and said: “I got an 18 that stinks”. And it was there, then, that he told me to leave being with the university and try the academy to be an actor. Did we mention that my dad is cool?

But why the academy?
In high school, as a hobby, I did theater: it suited me well, but I had never considered doing it for real… my dad saw us for a long time. He was right. With hindsight, I think I would have had an office routine: I like everything about the actor’s life, even – or above all – the uncertainty that characterizes it.

We come to From Scratch: the miniseries is inspired by the autobiography of the same name by Tembi Locke. How did you work on the character?
I am a classically trained actor, so for me first of all comes the study of the script. There is what it takes to get into character. Then of course I spoke to Tembi, letting myself be influenced by his memories. On the set she would often repeat to us: “You are giving body to my memories, you are staging my life”.

Didn’t that cause anxiety?
Well, a little bit yes. I met a lot of people, on the set but also off the set, who knew Lino directly, that is the character I play. For example, one day in the square in Cefalù I notice that a gentleman is staring at me insistently. After a while I approach: “Hi, tell me”, and there I discover that he was Lino’s cousin. I therefore felt a certain responsibility, especially towards Tembi, but at a certain point I tried to simply put myself at the service of history.

Photo: Netflix

The platforms are full of love stories where one of the two gets sick and dies. What’s the extra gear of From Scratch?
First of all, as we said, it is the story of a life, in whose emotions we can all recognize ourselves. What matters is not going from point A to point B, but the journey. In addition, the series addresses the issue of integration and does so with great honesty. At the center are two cultures that meet and try to coexist: they have different languages ​​and sounds, different foods, two points of view on the world. The protagonists love each other to the point of talking to try to meet despite the differences.

Is love the real lever of inclusiveness?
The cement of inclusiveness is respect which, yes, is a form of affection, because it means recognizing – and recognizing ourselves – that we are all human beings, with the same desires and fears. Can I give you a slightly provocative example?

One day, in high school, one of my literature teachers told us that Dante did not love Beatrice more than the 15-year-old boy loved his girlfriend. Only one writes “So kind and so honest it seems”, the other “Love I love you”With the can on the wall. So the modalities change, but the desires of the human heart are the same. For everyone.

Photo: Netflix

The series also tells another great truth, which is that the best cuisine in the world is not the French one whose meals (I quote your character’s words) “begin and end with butter and potatoes”. Did we get a nice pebble out of our shoe?
I am not an expert in French cuisine but, as a good Italian, I can only be biased and subscribe! (laughsnda) Among other things, I love popular cuisine: I’m a fan of Italian cuisine, the good, Mediterranean one.

So aren’t you one of those who say: “Food is an experience, let’s go eat Turkish tonight”?
Food is undoubtedly edible culture, as Paride Benassai claims. But, here … eating sushi they practically dragged me there! I liked it, mind you, but … the bucatini all’amatriciana I know mejo.

How are you doing in the kitchen?
Good. Both my grandmother and my mom were very good. I am strong in the typical dishes of the tradition: for example the ragù I do very well, and also the roast or the sauté of mussels. I don’t know how to do gourmet cooking.

To put it in the Roman style, the rustic cuisine is the one that gives the most satisfaction.
And how! In the end, she eats with her stomach, not her brain.

You are now on the set of The Equalizer 3: what will your role be?
Unfortunately I can’t reveal anything yet, otherwise the CIA will pick me up with a drone …

But what is it like sharing the set with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning?
I haven’t gotten to work with Dakota yet. With Denzel, on the other hand, it was very nice to listen to all the observations she makes. He is a great actor and seeing him at work is wonderful. I try to steal as much as possible with my eyes.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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