Ilenia Pastorelli, the actor that debuted with a David di Donatello
To the discovery of its absence of filters, able to arrive as no acting course can teach you to do
Director Gabriele Mainetti sought her out when she still wasn’t thinking about acting, let alone about winning one of the most prestigious awards in international cinema, coming out above much more seasoned actors, like Juliette Binoche, Sabrina Ferilli, Anna Foglietta and Valeria Golino. Carlo Verdone asked for her to star in his latest film (for which she earned a nomination for the Nastro d’Argento) and said that she was the actor he had to direct the least on set. It was the beginning of the brief - for now - but intense story of Ilenia Pastorelli, a wonder of Italian cinema, protagonist of They Call Me Jeeg, performing alongside Claudio Santamaria and Luca Marinelli, and Benedetta follia by Carlo Verdone. She returns to the big screen again this autumn/winter with two films: Cosa fai a Capodanno?, starring alongside Luca Argentero and Riccardo Scamarcio, released last November, and starting January 10, 2019, Non ci resta che il crimine, together with Marco Giallini, Alessandro Gassman, Edoardo Leo and Gianmarco Tognazzi. Roman, frank and equipped with a penetrating gaze and a sharp laugh, thanks to her lack of a filter, she can take to the stage like no acting course could ever teach.
What was it like to see yourself on the big screen and win a David di Donatello with your debut film?
It was definitely unexpected, especially for me, considering that I never imagined I would be an actor.
And you worked alongside Carlo Verdone, who you’ve said is one of your idols?
Outside the film world - I know all the jokes of his films by heart! - Carlo is an absolutely beautiful person with a big heart, and he taught me so much thanks in part to his humility and ability to make everyone feel comfortable on set.
Which of your characters so far have you felt spoke to you the most?
Not having studied acting, my method for approaching my various roles has always been to start, in some way, with myself, understanding what things make me bond with and separate me from my characters. Acting, in a certain sense, forces us to be sincere, to reproduce the experiences and sentiments we’ve had. If we’re talking about true similarities… Alessia was very sweet; she believed in Jeeg Robot, but she was completely mad, crazy really, and so she wasn’t very similar to me, at least beyond our origins and how we speak. Perhaps Luna, in Carlo’s film, is the character I most relate to.
Do you have an icon of past and current cinema that you admire?
Meryl Streep. I think she’s an incredible actor in all her roles. I’m moved every time I see her.
Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
I would love to do a film with Johnny Depp (she laughs), perhaps directed by Martin Scorsese. Or, sticking to Italy, I’d like to work with Alessandro Borghi, who’s also a good friend of mine, and with director Stefano Sollima.
What do you do when you’re not filming?
I haven’t changed much since I began acting; I do the same things I did before. I’m very close with my family – my mother and sister – who fill my life with joy.
Have you thought about the theatre?
I’ve gotten offers for the theatre that I’m evaluating. Performing on stage requires much more time, however, and I’m waiting for the right situation so I can dedicate my whole attention and do it in the best possible way.
Verdone told us that there’s poetry in you, the symbol of “a beautiful, true, sincere periphery”. What do you think he meant?
The people who live in the suburbs to the north of the city are perhaps more realistic; they have less superfluities. I think Carlo was referring to this authenticity that exists in the peripheries.
Which places in Rome do you feel most connected to?
A church in piazza del Popolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, but not so much because it’s a religious place but rather for the beauty of the architecture. I also love piazza del Popolo in general and Tor Bella Monaca because that’s where I filmed The Call Me Jeeg and where I was born.
Shopping in Rome: your insider recommendations?
There’s a small market that I love in Flaminia Vecchia and the stores in the Monti neighbourhood are really cute. If I want to buy anything, I usually go there.