Italia Ricci is probably most recognized for her role in Chasing Life, the drama based upon a young woman battling cancer. Since the ABC Family drama was cancelled, Italia has moved on to bigger and badder things. Literally. She made her debut as Siobhan Smythe, AKA Silver Banshee, on last week’s Supergirl. I had the pleasure of talking with her recently about Chasing Life, Supergirl and her newest project Designated Survivor. Read our interview below!
You’ve been kind enough to give our website a few interviews, but we haven’t gotten to talk to you since Chasing Life got cancelled.
Ugh. Still sore.
Me too. How hard was it for you to move on from April?
I was so upset initially. I was really proud of the two seasons that we had and the story we got to tell. I have no idea where it was going to go after season two, but I think the story that we did tell was important, and it was real, and it was beautiful. So I was less upset that the show was actually canceled than I was about the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing those people every day anymore. My crew. And the cast. And the writers. Everybody involved, I love them so much. I was so upset that I wouldn’t be waking up everyday and getting to hang out with them. The cast and I still hang out a bit. I still see some of the people. Actually, some of the crew has worked on Supergirl!
Did the writers tell you an ending for April, or did you make one up in your mind just to have closure?
When I first booked the job, they told me, we think the cancer is gonna win. Because in real life sometimes that’s what happens. The more we were shooting and everything, the more we started to realize that this show was giving so much hope to so many people. They started to change their minds. I actually have no idea how it ended. I like that. I’m okay with that. She’s still in Italy.
That’s a good way to leave her. In Italy.
I wish I was still in Italy, I’ll tell ya that. (laughs).
I was in New Jersey for the crazy snow convention and I got to talk to Robbie for a quick minute and I asked him when he was going to bring you with him to a convention.
I’ve started to look at convention opportunities. I may even crash Toronto Con with Robbie.
That’ll be fun.
I’m excited. I love those. I love Comic Con and all that sort of stuff. The energy is so fun, and everybody is so pumped. It’s just so cool. One of my career goals is for someone to dress up as my character. I am so hoping that someone will try to be Banshee.
Yes, that would be awesome. Robbie also talked about you going bad at the same time. Did you two swap villain pointers?
(laughs) No! We didn’t mean for it to happen. It just did. It was awesome. We just had fun with it. Our villains are very different. His is a whole new character. Whereas mine you see how/when she becomes the villain, but his just existed in another universe.
How does it feel to play a villain? Especially after playing April.
It’s so fun! But it’s actually terrifying because April was so real. I believe April was going through everything she was going through. I could find a very real place to react from because it is a real thing. When I was on set, and I was in the Banshee suit and Supergirl was pretend flying away, I was like ‘How do you people do this everyday? This is so hard, I feel ridiculous.’ (laughs). You just have to let it all go and pretend you’re four years old and get really into it. And then it’s so much fun.
The Supergirl cast seems like a fun group, how has it been working with them?
They are so cool. I was a little nervous when I found out I booked it. Before my first day, I told myself I was going to be quiet, you’re just a guest star, hide into the background sort of thing. You’ve got Calista, Jenna, Melissa, Jeremy, Mehcad, Peter, etc. And I go in and I got immediate hugs from everybody and they are all just the sweetest, the coolest. I’m just like ‘I want to be all of you when I grow up.’ (laughs)
So which is worse, the wig or the Banshee makeup?
Ohh, that’s tough. The wig took less time, and I didn’t mind the wigs. The bald caps were bad. Those took about three hours and you couldn’t really move. Banshee from top to bottom, to transform me into that, takes just about five hours.
So Banshee is a little tougher. With the bald cap, it was just my head, whereas this is head to toe. But also, it helps. Whenever you go through something like that, even with the bald cap, it sort of does your job for you. I look in the mirror and I feel bald because I look bald. So when I dress up as Banshee I feel powerful and badass. I literally always feel like I am a walking action figure. It’s so fun. (laughs)
Your new role on Designated Survivor sounds amazing. How excited are you?
I’m so so so excited. That’s why Banshee has been even more fun. I try to pretend even harder because I know I’m going to be spewing political jargon for the next year. I was like ‘Give me all the hair and makeup and crazy wardrobe that you can and let me get it out of my system’. This new character, she’s gonna be a fun one. I was going to go to law school before I became an actor, so I feel like this is sort of alternate universe Italia, if I had gone down that path and never accidentally got cast in a movie. She’s smart and she’s driven and she’s fierce and she’s young. She’s compensating because she’s among these huge people and these important roles. I’m so excited, I actually just bought ‘How Washington Actually Works For Dummies’, and I’m looking at it right now because I want to know everything. I don’t know how it actually works, and I love doing homework so much that I’m gonna be a political expert by the time I shoot this thing.
The jargon is probably gonna be interesting.
Well, there’s Google. (laughs) The producers and director are so kind. They’re gonna set me up with someone who actually did my job, or my characters job. She can tell me what it’s like and the day-to-day thing. If I ever have questions they have all the answers. Because the show runner worked in the White House, Kal Penn who’s playing the President’s speechwriter, he’s worked in the White House. I may be embarrassed that I don’t know as much as all of these people, but I’m gonna be surrounded by people who know so much that no question is going to be stupid. I hope.
If you could choose a show that’s currently on to guest star in, which would you choose?
Ohh, that’s hard. I would say Modern Family, cause I’m not funny. What shows do I love… I love Suits. Suits is a good one. Jeopardy? I’d do Jeopardy. I don’t know, there’s so many! I’d love to work on Blindspot, cause it’s amazing. I would say Outlander, just because it’s such a sexy show, but Robbie would shoot me because it’s such a sexy show. (laughs) I just started The West Wing too, as homework, but that’s not on anymore. Any show, really. That’s why I love doing what I do, because I can pretend to be so many things. Let’s go be in a hospital, I can be a doctor, I’ve always wanted to try that. I feel like I get spoiled by getting to do what I do.
Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, we like to ask what makes you nerdy?
I never leave my house. Is that nerdy?? That’s more hermitty. When I was a little girl I used to get grounded from reading. Because I didn’t want to go outside and I just wanted to read books all of the time. My parents would literally be like ‘You are grounded, go play outside with your friends.’ And I would be like ‘You are the worst parents ever!’ because I just wanted to read like 24 hours straight. I think that qualifies me as pretty nerdy.
Tune into CBS at 8:00 PM ET tonight to see Italia in action!