For all the reasons one can say art is great to them — visually appealing, sounds great, original, creative, smart — when it comes down to it what matters is the gut reaction. Does it make you feel something? Does it excite you? Do you relate to it?
When that does happen it is rare and incredibly exciting. That was the feeling I had randomly discovering the Netflix series, Generation 56K. There was something I just connected with in the eight-episode Italian series, which premiered last year. Much of that was the chemistry of the leads — Angelo Spagnolelti as Daniel and Cristina Cappelli as Matilda.
Both came off as engaging, funny, intriguing and, most of all, highly likable. It turns out as likable and charming as Cappelli’s Matilda was on the brilliant Generation 56K it is nothing compared to her real life radiance.
For our entire hour-long Zoom conversation, with her at home in Rome, Italy, Cappelli could not stop smiling and laughing as she talked about the show, her own literary aspirations, why she is protective of her private life and where she hopes to go from having a hit Netflix series.
She is very open to working in America, so, Hollywood, don’t blow this. Just as in music you cannot teach stage presence you cannot manufacture the kind of likability and ease Cappelli delivers. And since sadly she does reveal there will be no second season of Generation 56K, something she is okay with, there should be a rom-com with Cappelli and Spagno’s names all over it. But she has a lot of other ambitions as I found out.
Steve Baltin: Did you immediately feel the connection to the show and the character of Matilda right away?
Cristina Cappelli: Yes, in a way. I remember when I read the script for the audition the first time I was reading and I said, “Oh my god, I love this character.” And it was moving. But when I was chosen for the series and I had the whole script, when I read it the first time I was crying because I think there was something that connected me with the character. Maybe this feeling of when you feel loved in your life and you don’t know what to do with your future, your relationship and even if you’re surrounded by people who love you, you feel lonely because you are lost. And I experienced that feeling so I found it in the character. Because in the beginning she thinks she knows everything about her life, her marriage, her friendship, everything. And when she met Daniel everything changed in a moment because the inner child came out. And it’s very sweet in a way. Yes, it was an imprinting when I read it (smiling).
Baltin: I fell in love with the show, but I don’t know what the response in Italy is. So has everyone there seen it?
Cappelli: Yes, yes, it went great.
Baltin: What was the response from friends and family as the show became a hit?
Cappelli: They were so happy. My family was so happy. I remember my mother, when the series was online, she didn’t have the courage to watch it without me because she was shaking all the time . And she said, “Oh my god, my daughter is on Netflix!” They were so happy, they support me. And also my friends, I have a lot of friends. All of them are my safety net — my family and my friends are all my family. So it was great. It was a special moment for my personal growth and my career and my dreams.
Baltin: What would you like to see come next from the success of the show?
Cappelli: I would love to play in a movie for cinema and have the possibility to challenge myself with so many characters. And different characters. I love to explore because with every character I discover a new part of me. It’s very fun and beautiful. So this is my dream to have the opportunity to change every time.
Baltin: What did you discover about yourself playing Matilda?
Cappelli: That I am stronger than I think. I have more courage than I think. And we can risk for ourselves, when something doesn’t make us happy we can change and that that risk. It’s not so dangerous. Our happiness must be first every single time.
Baltin: So that’s something you weren’t necessarily aware of before playing Matilda?
Cappelli: I was aware, but sometimes you know it with your mind and not with your body. So, yes, this is thanks to Matilda.
Baltin: Will there be another season of the show?
Cappelli: There’s not gonna be another season. There’s only one season, that’s it.
Baltin: Are you happy with that?
Cappelli: I’m happy also because it’s a small treasure, it’s very precious. And it’s good there is only one season because it keeps it a treasure.
Baltin: What do you think happens with Daniel and Matilda?
Cappelli: (Laughs) There will be a happy ending, of course! They will be engaged and then there will be a marriage, a lot of kids (laughs). No, I don’t know. But I think there is a very good ending in the show because at the end of the story both of them are more aware of what they want and who they are. So they have grown. And from that moment they know they need to find their own happiness in life with Daniel, or without Daniel, and with Matilda or without Matilda.
Baltin: Are there movie or TV couples that remind you of Daniel and Matilda?
Cappelli: (Laughing) I would say Ross and Rachel from Friends, maybe. It could be. They know each other from when they were kids and after years they fall in love again. They then broke up and fall in love again.
Baltin: What was the first movie you remember seeing that made an impression on you?
Cappelli: It was All About Eve, I’m in love with that movie. It was shocking when I saw it the first time. Bette Davis is amazing in that movie. And I fell in love with the two characters, of course. because it was like the two faces of the same coin. It was a sort of love story between them because there is a weird attraction between these women. And they are like animals, and they’re fighting for their passions and their life. I watched it and I said, “Okay, I want to do this movie.” It’s not possible because it’s very old, but I would love to play in that movie.
Baltin: If you could do a remake of that movie who would you want to play the other side of your coin?
Cappelli: I am in love with Vanessa Kirby. [Or] Meryl Streep, but I’m dreaming big now. I would always choose Meryl Streep.
Baltin: How old were you when you first saw All About Eve?
Cappelli: Fourteen, I think. When I was a kid I wanted to become a dancer. I was sure I was going to become a dancer. And everything happened when I was eight because when I was eight my aunt asked me to play in a show for my town. They needed a kid to play the part of a cat. It was a show for kids, a comic show for kids. When I was on the stage I remember I felt free and I said, “Okay, this is the place I can express myself and I can have fun.” So when I was eight I remember I said, “Okay, I’m gonna become an actress.” And I remember one night my mother was making dinner and I went to the kitchen. I said, “Okay, mom, let’s make a deal.” I remember I said I’d bet 50 Euros, which, for me at that time, was a huge amount of money. She said okay and I said, “Okay, I’ll show you. This is gonna happen.” Then I studied a lot to make it happen.
Baltin: Did mom ever pay?
Cappelli: I’m waiting to make a bigger bet. I’m gonna tell her, “Mom, I’m going to win an Oscar, I bet 10,000” (laughing).
Baltin: Before the interview I could not find a lot of stuff about you. And your Instagram does not reveal a lot about you. is that intentional?
Cappelli: Yeah, I’m a very private person. I like to keep my life outside of Instagram or my public persona, to keep them separated cause it’s like I want to keep them safe and only mine. I’m very careful to not mix them.
Baltin: I get that. Are there public people you admire for the way they keep their lives private?
Cappelli: Sometimes I see important actresses or actors who don’t have social media. They don’t have Facebook or Instagram. And I like that because we live 24 hours in a social world and it makes us disconnected from us, from our real life. And I don’t like that part, so I like to balance. I want to be a public persona for my art, not for my life. I want to be known for what I do, a character that I play. For example I love to write. I would describe myself as a writer too, cause I love to write, romance and short novels. So I would like that people know me maybe for a book and know me through the book because in everything that I do there is a part of me. But I want people to know me for that, not for my boyfriend or my dog or my cat.
Baltin: What is your favorite book?
Cappelli: The Count Of Monte Cristo. I love that book, everything, it’s beautiful.
Baltin: If you could live in any book what would it be?
Cappelli: Wuthering Heights, I would like to have a Heathcliff, to be in this traveling love story. It could be beautiful to play that character.
Baltin: Who would be your Heathcliff in a Wuthering Heights movie?
Cappelli: Adam Driver, he’s a great actor.
Baltin: Do you want to work in the States?
Cappelli: I would love to work in the States. I think it’s the dream of a lot of actors to work there. We grew up with American movies, so we dream of work in the U.S.A. with all the amazing directors that you have.
Baltin: So who would be the dream director to work with here?
Cappelli: Oh, I love [Quentin] Tarantino. But I would love to work with [Damien]Chazelle, [Adam] McKay, [Christopher] Nolan, [Martin] Scorese (laughing). You have so many great directors.