Interview: Paula Rivera

Shot in Toronto’s Little Italy (in the very real and genuinely delicious Il Gatto Nero), The Resurrection of Tony Gitone (directed by Jerry Ciccoritti, with Fab Filipo, Tony Nardi, Tony Nappo, Louis Di Bianco, Alvaro D’Antonio, John Cassini, and Nick Mancuso) brings together a group of old friends to ostensibly to celebrate the success of one of their own, but in the process each ends up going through their own long, dark night of the soul.

Paula Rivera rounds out the cast, both as the only woman in a roomful of men and the only non-Italian in a who’s who cast of Italian-Canadians. We caught up with Paula over the weekend.

What attracted you to the script?

Working with Jerry and with all those fantastic actors in such a creative matter and dealing with material that was so close to them and me in a way. Even though I am from a different generation and different background I have lived the experience of building yourself up in a different country and trying to make sense as to what really matters in life.

Watching The Resurrection of Tony Gitone feels more like watching a play than watching a movie; did you guys rehearse heavily, or improvise moments with each other?

The process was very interesting. Jerry [Ciccoritti] had written a script and we got together in a room to read it and then did some improvs based on it. These improvs were filmed, and with that material, Jerry created a second script. We got into a room again and did more improvs, then a third script was created and that was the one we shot.  However, once on set Jerry allowed us to either stick to the script or use our own words, so we had the freedom to move between learned lines and spontaneous thoughts.

What’s it like working with so many strong presences in the room?

I felt honoured to be sharing such personal material with these man. I learned a lot about them not only as actors but as people. Their strong presences were a great challenge for me to step to the plate. No chance to play a little girl, I had to be a woman.

How much did they let you cook at Il Gatto Nero?

I did stir the polenta and that was about it. Lots of eating though.

What’s your cocktail of choice?

I am more a beer and wine kind of girl

Have you ever emptied a drink over a guy like that in real life?

No, but it felt good.

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