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Exclusive interview with Italia Ricci of Chasing Life

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When Talk Nerdy With Us chatted with Italia Ricci back in July, it was all true love and wedding planning. Since then things have taken a turn for the worse for Ricci’s character April Carver on ABC Family’s Chasing Life. While April’s health seems to be under control for the moment, her (brand new) husband unexpectedly succumbed to the cancer that had been ailing him for years. TNWU had a chance to catch up with Ricci and check in about how things have changed. Read on to hear what she had to say about the grieving process, moving on with Dominic and ‘shipping adults on TV!

The first season of Chasing Life focused a lot of its energy on April’s health and discovering that she was sick, but the second half of this season really since Leo’s death, you’ve gotten to sink your teeth into circumstances that are unrelated to your own illness. Have you enjoyed that shift?

Yeah totally. I think that it was done in a way that was not only different for me to try on, but also, I think it’s real. People do, in the face of tragedy, try and mask it with anything they can to not feel bad. It was also exciting for me because for the first season and a half, I really didn’t have to paint on April; I just pretended that it was me in that situation. I just put myself in April’s universe and that’s why it felt very easy to play her and I think that’s why fans found her very relatable. I wasn’t really pretending, well, I was pretending, but I wasn’t painting on a character. Where after Leo passed away, the grief and everything was so striking I felt like I wanted to paralyze her emotional stability a little bit. So she has this wall, she’s a little bit harder than she’s been. It doesn’t make her mean or anything, but I wanted her to have this sort of glass pane in front of everything that she was feeling from there forward because I don’t think it could just be one episode of grief and then it’s all better. I wanted it to extend for the rest of the season to show that no matter what she’s going through she’s still heartbroken, because I just don’t think that if that happened a heart would heal so quickly.

April’s relationship with Dominic is continuing to evolve. Some fans have expressed frustration over the idea of April rekindling that romance. How would you address fan concerns about the potential of that relationship getting romantic again?

April knows she’s not ready. What she’s dealing with in the finale is whether or not she wants to tell Dominic that she still has feelings for him even though she’s not ready. Or does she not tell him anything at all and risk losing him if he leaves Boston or finds someone else, and her never knowing if they could have had something incredible. It’s do I do it and regret doing it? Or not do it and then forever wonder what would have happened if I had?

Somebody said in the last episode, I don’t remember if it was April or Dominic, that it was just bad timing that stood in the way of their relationship the first time. It seems like this is bad timing again, but you don’t want to let this be the last opportunity and not jump on it.

Exactly. I think that it’s such a sweet story. When I read this one scene, I think it was in the preview, when he says “our story’s not over, right?” That scene melted my heart! I felt like I was in a Nicholas Sparks movie. [laughs]. I was like “Oh my god! Every girl wants this huge profession of love,” but then as amazing as it is and as much as she wants to hear it, it wouldn’t be fair to him to jump in when she can’t jump in 100%. I think she knows that. So it’s whether or not she’s going to tell him that there are feelings there or if she is just going to try and wait.

Also, that scene, where he’s on the street and he’s saying “is our story over?” I remember shooting that when we went to Boston halfway through the season, around episode 6, or 5 even. When we were shooting that scene we knew it was for the finale but we didn’t have the finale script yet. And in that scene there’s something like “but what you said last night, I’ve been thinking about it.” So we ran up to our executive producer who wrote it and we were like “what did we say last night? What happened?” [laughs]. And he was like “I don’t know I haven’t written it yet. Just go do the scene.” So I was like “Oh my god, we’re just guessing! Was it good? Was it bad?” It was so funny. So I’m curious to see how it fits in.

Switching gears, in last week’s episode we saw April fake a seizure in order to gain access to the press event. What’s your reaction when you read scenes like that and see April making this kind of choice?

I feel like she wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or scare Dominic or anything. I think she was just being reporter April and doing what she needed to do to get into a place she needed to be. I thought that was kind of interesting that old April came back in such a full force way. Because, ya know, she snuck into a blood drive and lied her way into an interview. It’s just so funny to see the ruthless part of her still existing. It was really refreshing.

April has changed so much over the last two seasons, I wondered if that part of April was still in there.

Yeah. It’s nice to know she didn’t lose that!

I’ve really enjoyed the exploration of April’s father and his life and his lies and how that’s impacted the Carver women. Is there any hope for April’s relationship with Natalie?

Well, right now it’s extremely strained. I mean it’s always been strained because of Dominic. They get along but there’s always been the apprehension because of everything that’s gone down. And now with this book and it being published and Natalie’s reaction to the secrets George told a couple of episodes ago, and mentioning that he could go to jail, and just bringing it up and saying that it was murder. It was just not something that any of the Carvers were prepared for. Now it’s the tension between them because Olivia wants to publish this book, it’s just like another “are you kidding? Can’t we just move past all this crap?” So it’s figuring out why she’s doing that which is a big shock as you’ll see in the finale. And then another huge secret is dropped about what happened that night. It just feels like that drama is never-ending. You just want to shake Uncle George and you want to shake Olivia and you want to say “just tell us what really went down, I can’t handle any more surprises.”           

I really enjoyed the slow discovery of all of those secrets. It was a really nice balance to everything that was happening with April and Leo.

Oh yeah. And the scenes with Steven Weber in the episode where he told us what happened, was just, I mean, that performance I could not believe…we were all just sitting there mouths agape, full goosebumps. That guy is so talented, it’s crazy!

It’s funny, I keep thinking about how I must be getting older because as a kid, I’d watch TV and I only cared about the romantic storylines of the teenagers and now I’m so invested in Sara and George.

I know! I feel the same way [laughs]. It’s so funny I just thought of that the other day, I was like, I would always fast forward through the adult scenes like “ew, I don’t care” and now it’s like “Give me more Sara and George! And Grandma! Bring her back!”

Right?! It’s so funny. And it’s even more hilarious because your father on the show is played by Thomas Irwin and I distinctly remember having this feeling about My So-Called Life.

Oh my god! Totally!! [laughs]

Thank so much for taking the time to chat with Talk Nerdy With Us, Italia! We’re really looking forward to the finale!

 

Tune into the Chasing Life season finale this Monday at 9pm/8c on ABC Family!

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