Newly-released in the UK, The Many Saints of Newark is set for a US release on the 1st October, with Mattea Conforti playing Young Janice Soprano and she attended the film premiere last week. Mattea’s screen career so far has seen her play Millie Manx in NOS4A2 alongside Zachary Quinto who played her on-screen father, with the series based on Joe Hill’s novel, and she has played Elisa Marie in Power since 2017. Voiceover work for Mattea includes Moon in children’s TV series The Ollie & Moon Show and Young Elsa in Disney’s Frozen 2. Having started her career on Broadway as the titled character Matilda in Matilda The Musical, Mattea went on to originate the role of Young Anna in Frozen on Broadway after developing the character in the workshops and Colorado and performed in Sunday in the Park with George alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. Ahead of the US release, we spoke to Mattea about playing Young Janice Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark, filming NOS4A2 and working on Disney’s Frozen on Broadway and screen.
How did it feel booking your role of Young Janice Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark and can you tell us about the character?
Booking the role of Janice Soprano was a huge surprise for a few reasons. First, I didn’t even know that I was auditioning for this character. The sides I was given had fake character names, but at the time, I didn’t know that. So, when I was finally told that I had booked “Janice”, I was blown away. As you know, Janice is a tough, no-nonsense, character. In the movie, I play her as a young teen; and so, I wanted to sort of balance out Janice’s rough side that we all know her for as an adult. To me, while she was definitely sarcastic and tough, I knew that there was also a child-like innocence to her before all the drama.
What can you say about the upcoming release and who do you think it will appeal to?
There is definitely a lot of buzz about this movie, as well as huge expectations from the fans. Of course, the die-hard fans are going to line up to see it. But the series is definitely not a prerequisite to enjoying and appreciating this film. This movie really has it all – comedy, drama and incredible intensity!
What was it like on set of the film and being in the cast?
Being on set with this cast was very much like hanging out with my own big Italian family. We had a lot of laughs and really took the time to get to know one another. It was extra special for me because I celebrated my thirteenth birthday on set, and the cast, crew and director got me a cake and sang to me. It was definitely a day I will not forget.
How is it having the film shown around the world and what are you looking forward to for the release in the US on the 1st October?
It’s so exciting to me that this movie about a New Jersey, Italian-American family, is going to be seen by fans all around the world. My family is Italian and our roots are in Newark, NJ. My mother even grew up in North Caldwell, NJ, where the series was set. So, both the movie and the series mean a lot to us. I am really looking forward to the fans’ reactions once the movie opens on October 1st.
Can you tell us about playing Millie Manx in NOS4A2 which aired on AMC?
Playing Millie Manx on NOS4A2 was a very fun and challenging experience. I worked alongside Zachary Quinto, who played my father. I learned so much from him about acting, preparing for a scene and developing my character. We shot the show in Rhode Island, mostly in the late fall and winter, and of course, many of my scenes were outside at night; and it got pretty cold! Millie Manx was a dynamic character – she was a devoted daughter, who would do anything for her father’s love; but she was also a ruthless and violent demon. I really enjoyed exploring both sides of her.
The series was based on Joe Hill’s novel, what was the show like to film and what did you enjoy most about playing the character?
Shooting a horror TV show or movie is so much fun to do. I loved learning about all the behind-the-scenes details that actually made the show scary. From the dead body props to the airbrushed veins on my face and my knife-like teeth – every detail was important. I think my favourite scene as Millie Manx was in the second season when I got to play both Millie as a real girl and as a demon child. In that episode, I had a scene where I played opposite myself. That was very challenging because I was working with a stand-in, and I had to act as one Millie character, while remembering my reactions and how I read as the other Millie, so that each Millie, and our conversation, was believable.
You played Elisa Marie in Power, how was this?
I absolutely loved playing Elisa Marie in Power. I came into that show at the series midpoint, and I was welcomed with open arms. With each season, I was given more and more material, and in the final sixth season, Elisa Marie even had a bit of a storyline. The Power fans are die-hards, just like the Sopranos fans, and it means so much to me that I still get mentioned by them for my work as Elisa Marie. It was an honour to work on that show.
What are some of your favourite memories from voicing Moon in The Ollie & Moon Show?
Ollie & Moon was my first experience with voiceover work. I was pretty young then, probably nine or ten. It was so much fun to work on that show too. Moon is a spunky, energetic, risk-taking character, and I was very much like that when I was working on that show.
How did you find the experience voicing the role of Young Elsa in Frozen 2?
Voicing Young Elsa in Frozen 2 was absolutely a dream come true. I was truly honoured that Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck trusted me to voice Young Elsa. Working with these icons and following their direction is an experience I will never forget.
Do you have any highlights from playing Young Anna in Disney’s Frozen on Broadway?
I think my entire experience of playing Young Anna in Frozen on Broadway was a highlight for me! I started developing Frozen when I was ten and just finishing up playing the title role of Matilda on Broadway. I developed the role of Young Anna through all three developmental workshops, one out of town tryout in Denver, Colorado, and then finally opening on Broadway. Originating the role of Young Anna and having creative input into who she is and how she’s portrayed on various stages around the world, is mind-blowing to me.
Can you say about appearing in Sunday in the Park with George alongside Jake Gyllenhaal?
My experience in Sunday in the Park with George was another monumental moment in my life. Working alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Analeigh Ashford and Ashley Park, to name a few, was like having my own masterclass in acting – both drama and comedy, every single day. I was the only kid in that show, but it never felt that way to me. The cast became my friends, and we used to call it our Perfect Park, because it truly was. The cast was family, and the show was just a brilliant and beautiful piece of art.
Where does your love of acting come from and what was it like starring as Matilda in Matilda The Musical on Broadway, which started your professional acting career?
It’s funny, I never really thought to myself, “I want to try acting”. I started performing as a competitive dancer at our local dance school in New Jersey. On a total whim, I went to an open call for Matilda on Broadway. I had never been to a Broadway audition, I had never taken a voice lesson, I had never even done a school play – but I knew that I could dance. Fast forward six months from the day of that open call, and we got a phone call from casting that I was being asked to come back in for the role of Matilda! Three weeks later, I booked the role. My love for acting started with Matilda and it has grown and evolved with each audition and each new role.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
I love Star Wars – I watched all those movies during quarantine. So, of course, I really like The Mandalorian. I also love WandaVision, The Queen’s Gambit, Outer Banks, Ted Lasso, The Crown, just to name a few – there is so much good content on TV. As for theatre, I absolutely love Dear Evan Hansen, and I think a dream role for me would be to play the role of Zoe Murphy in that show.
What are you hoping for your career over the next year?
Over the next year, I’m hoping that I’m attached to a series or film that challenges my abilities and takes me out of my comfort zone. I would love to do a period piece – I have a mean British accent from my Matilda days. I would also love to do a comedy, or maybe tackle a more serious role. I know for sure that I’m absolutely ready for anything that comes my way!
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Categories: Film & TV, home, Interview, Young Performers
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