Without ever having studied acting, Mattia Carrano was catapulted by his mother into auditions for the Amazon Prime series Prisma made by Ludovico Bessegato, former creator of Skam Italia. «I was chosen to play twins, Marco and Andrea. I’m an only child», the actor jokes. While waiting for the second season of Prisma, Mattia Carrano was given the Next Generation Award by MANINTOWN at the Venice Film Festival, and is this month’s cover story.
Born in Rome on 13 May 2000, he attended secondary school at Rossellini Technical Institute and studied as an editor. «Unfortunately I haven’t finished my studies», says Mattia.
«I went to Hungary for a year with my mother, who was born there. I speak native Hungarian, but I have difficulty writing it. So then I was forced to start school over from the first year. I passed the year but, back in Italy, I had to start all over again. So I left. Taking the same classes over and over again without ever failing seemed a bit too much for me. That’s how it went. I didn’t have the best experiences at school. I was hyperactive. Sitting still? It feels like dying. They even sent me to the school psychologist. I just wanted to do different things all the time, which is why I did so much sport. I don’t think school is bad, that’s just what I experienced. Others were fine».
«It was also difficult for someone like me to study the part. But I was able to live that role, and Ludovico evidently noticed it»
Let’s start from the beginning: you hadn’t had any actor training when you auditioned…
No. Zilch. And I didn’t even want to be an actor! But I put my heart and soul into it, I tried, and it went well, even though I didn’t know anything. I always wonder what Ludovico Bessegato saw in me. I asked him often, but he never answered. It was also difficult for someone like me to study the part. But I was able to live that role, and Ludovico evidently noticed it. From there I had to hunker down.
To study acting, you mean?
Exactly! I’ve always loved cinema, but I thought I’d be a director or work behind the camera in other roles. It was my mother who has always said since I was a kid ‘you have to be an actor.’
In Prisma, Andrea wants to leave but his mother doesn’t agree, while she decides that Marco has to swim. What do you think of the expectations parents have of children? Did your mother do more or less the same thing to you?
Yes, that’s true. I think parents always tell you what they want you to do. They should be listened to, but then you have to have the guts to do what you want to do.
«It’s changed my life. I do more or less the same things, but with a job that allows me to travel and opens a lot of doors for me»
Prisma came out a year ago: how has it affected you?
It’s changed my life. I do more or less the same things, but with a job that allows me to travel and opens a lot of doors for me. I have the same friends as before. I know a lot of people, but friendship is different. I’m not very trusting of others. It would be rubbish if I told you: ‘I’m the same person as before, nothing has changed, because I have my feet on the ground.’ Yes, you can also have your feet on the ground, but you walk the red carpets, you go to events, fans write you, they recognise you on the street. Then it depends on how you live it. I’ve stayed more or less the same: I started when I was 21, now I’m 23. I’m growing up, I’m learning, I’m maturing… at least I hope. I had a girlfriend, regrettably we broke up.
In Prisma you interpret twins with two opposite personalities. At the end of the shoot, after switching continuously from one role to another, did you feel a touch split yourself?
I worked on body language a lot. The change was instantaneous. Here’s an example I always give: if I sit on the sofa, on my side, with my legs close together, arms folded, I give one impression. If I sit in the middle of the sofa with my legs spread all cocky, I give another. That’s the starting point. Not having studied acting, it occurred to me to start from there. Then I added a different voice, a different language, and everything that the role required.
After the set I always try to separate myself, while many colleagues do the opposite: they stay in character. I couldn’t do it: if I had, perhaps I would have become a bit schizophrenic. While filming we lived in Latina, so in the evening I’d go back to the hotel and study my part for the following day. In the morning back on set. The rest of the cast and crew were in the hotel, so you never fully disconnected in the end.
Prisma is the brainchild of Alice Urciuolo and Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto, who were expelled from Kennedy Secondary School in Rome because they were transgender. In January she won the case because the expulsion was not for just cause, but for gender discrimination. Would it change anything for you to have a trans teacher?
No, why? The important thing is that they know how to teach, that they take care of me as a student.
«I’ve always wondered why we have to give ourselves labels. People are afraid of the freedom to be who they want and to find their place»
Protests were the way to break the mould in the 60s and 70s. Now here you are, a generation sometimes called apathetic: is that accurate, are you simply living the change? Can Prisma be considered a political manifesto?
I’ve never considered Prisma a political project, but it has the cards to be one. In reality, it recounts the daily lives of youth. They once asked me why teen shows were exploding. Because in my opinion, they stopped making series for youth and started making series that talk about youth. I’m stopped on the street by more 40-year-olds than by teens. Obviously the project is making waves.
Your generation is described as fluid. Do you feel the need to define yourself?
I’ve never understood this. I’ve always wondered why we have to give ourselves labels. People are afraid of the freedom to be who they want and to find their place. So they go in search of the freedom to be themselves, to do what they want, to be happy. I’ve never liked labels.
A few years ago there was a series on Netflix called Living with Yourself, where the protagonist finds himself living with his doppelgänger. Playing twins, did it make you discover a Mattia that you would never ever live with?
I wouldn’t live with Mattia at all! With such a strong personality, two Mattias would be a bit ‘too much.’
«I’ve always been like this: if I can see the arrival point, then I need to change, to try something more difficult that I don’t know how to do»
Your recent past includes a Korean martial art. Why did you leave?
When I returned from Los Angeles after the Hwa Rang Do World Cup, I tore my cruciate ligaments. I was in a cast for three months from hip to ankle, I was forced to do this long rehab, but I wasn’t recovering. They told me to train in pools, but swimming laps is not for me. I discovered water polo, which is a bit like the MMA of swimming. It was a very special time in my life. I’ve always been like this: if I can see the arrival point, then I need to change, to try something more difficult that I don’t know how to do.
After Prisma, have you got plans for the future?
I can’t talk about it. We filmed the second season of Prisma, but I don’t know when it will air.
There’s a lot of talk about AI. Are you afraid of being replaced by a computer?
It’s something that gives me the creeps. I think cinematic art could die. Fellini said: there are no good or bad films, there are live or dead films. With artificial intelligence, in my opinion, films are born dead. There’s no emotion, there’s not a person behind them who says one day, ‘Wow, what an idea!’ and runs to talk to other people to make a film about it. It lacks emphasis, the love for what you do, the excitement of telling others what you have in mind.
Editor in chief Federico Poletti
Photographer Davide Musto
Stylist Sara Castelli Gattinara, Vanessa Bozzacchi – Other Agency
Make-up Eleonora Mantovani – Simone Belli Agency
Hair Elena – Contestarockhair
Photographer assistant Valentina Ciampaglia
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