The new entry in “Ancora più bello,” [English translation: “even better”] the sequel of the successful movie “Sul più bello” by Alice Filippi, is a young actress who knows what she wants and how to get it, with the benefit of humbleness, the courage of her own actions, and fool-proof acting techniques. The new entry in “Ancora più bello” jumped on board bringing with her a character marked by “witty banters and great laughter.” The new entry in “Ancora più bello” is Rebecca, Federica’s cousin, played by an all-around artist: Jenny De Nucci.
During our interview, we discovered her big passion for cinema, music, and photography, in a nice talk punctuated by deep thoughts and anecdotes about falls from horsebacks. Jenny told us about her experience on set, the techniques she adopted to build her character, her Instagram account of analog photos, and the deleterious effect of false positivity and self-censorship – because, after all, what is there of even better than feeling feelings?
What’s your first cinema memory?
It dates back to when I went to kindergarten. My parents would buy me lots of VHSs and I used to spend whole afternoons watching movies. My mom and dad had sort of sensed that I could have liked acting when I was between 5 and 6 and memorized and parroted all lines of “Monsters & Co.”. I can still remember them. Or even when I was older, around 10-12 years old, I used to build up theaters with bedsheets in the living room of my house to put up shows for my whole family to watch.
“Ancora più bello,”, the sequel of “Sul più bello,” where you play Rebecca: how did you approach the script? And what was the first question you asked the director?
The very moment I was starting to film “Ancora più bello,” I was also starting to rehearse for my first film as the only female lead, “Prima di andare via,” by Massimo Cappelli. There really was a lot of work to do, the characters were very different, so it took a lot of time. I spent my Easter break at my acting coach’s place, she’s Anna Redi. She recently got married in Casperia, a remote place in Lazio’s countryside, where the actors she works with are used to join her for a sometimes spiritual retreat where they study the scripts, eat healthily and have some walks.
Just like all the characters I’ve played, I prepared Rebecca with her help. We found cues to create Rebecca’s effective personality and that subtext of hers that could justify her behavior and her reactions to the world: we looked for the animal that could have been closest to her and we decided to observe the cat. The first question I asked the director was: “This is my first comedy; will you promise that we’re going to help each other?”.
And that’s how it all started.
“…we looked for the animal that could have been closest to her and we decided to observe the cat.”
The world of Marta, Gabriele, and Rebecca is a sort of “contemporary fairytale,” to quote director Claudio Norza: managing to give life to such a romantic and profound story and turn it into a sequence of frames to be put on the big screen must have been a huge challenge for everyone. Was there a challenge in particular that you had to deal with to step into the shoes of Rebecca? If so, how did you overcome it?
Let me say that, as an actress, it’s inconceivable not to love my character for the choices she makes and how she behaves in the world. Actors are a sort of lawyers of souls to perform. The hardest part was dealing with Rebecca’s kind of soft meanness and the way she treats those around her; however, while studying her, I realized that it all came from a huge sense of insecurity that she hides inside.
How does your character fit in the dynamics with the other characters?
Rebecca is introduced as Federica’s cousin, at a party organized by Marta and her friends. Here at this party, she will meet Giacomo, who, compared to her idea of a boyfriend, is probably the least likely type. However, something will click between them, and we’ll see them build this very funny relationship based on witty banters and great laughter.
Music, in this film, is a narrator: original songs and tracks already released in the past underline and accompany the various moments and emotional phases in the movie: is there a song in particular from the soundtrack of “Ancora più bello” that has stuck with you? If your life was a movie, what would its soundtrack sound like?
I think that the song that stuck with me the most is “Penelope” by Rachele Bastreghi, which was also the soundtrack to my entrance in the film. My friends were at the Rome premiere and, right after the screening, they downloaded the song on Spotify and we listened to it on repeat in the car on our way back home. I don’t know why, but it’s like we’ve become attached to that song for a purely genuine reason, that is because it accompanied my real entry into the world of cinema, a dream that my friends have shared with me as if it were theirs too.
It’s hard to choose the soundtrack of my life, but it would be something similar to one of those late 90s early 2000s teenage movie songs, like “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall.
“It’s hard to choose the soundtrack of my life, but it would be something similar to one of those late 90s early 2000s teenage movie songs, like ‘Suddenly I See’ by KT Tunstall.”
Your character, with her back story and personality, is a vessel of important and current messages, especially for the young audience members who feel particularly close to some themes tackled in the movie, like bullying, cyberbullying, harassment in the workplace, communications difficulties. What kind of lesson would you like the audience to learn after watching “Ancora più bello”?
The luck of this project is that it can speak to so many different people, from us, young people, up to adults. The introduction of certain topics like harassment in the workplace was a brave choice, in my opinion. The movie talks about drama and comedy in a lighthearted way, without hiding some vital issues. The thought that young girls, going back home after watching this movie, might feel like they’ve become aware that, unfortunately, such things can happen at work, makes me proud of having been a part of this project.
Cinema is beautiful especially when it works as a huge communication system.
How would you define “Ancora più bello” in just one word?
Family. Which is exactly what I felt as soon as I set foot on set.
The latest t time you found out that something was “even better?”
A few months ago, I found out how love is able to ignite a spark inside of you.
How much of Jenny is there in your characters?
There’s my whole emotional baggage in them. The technique I adopt the most with my acting coach Anna Redi is to substitute the character’s happy or desperate moments with feelings I’ve personally felt in my life: it’s hard but highly functional work.
You also have a “film account” where you post pictures taken by you: how did you approach photography, and what does it represent to you?
Photography, or freezing moments, is one of the things that have been fascinating me the most for a long time. Even when my Instagram page had zero followers, when I was about 14, 15, and 16, I used to think of social media as a journal where I could post all the pictures of my travels or street photos of things I came across. Filmuccy, my Instagram account of analogic photos, was born from my urgency to share, although on a different feed, pictures that didn’t really fit in my main Instagram profile. But I wanted to share them so bad. To me, photography represents a window into the world, I love portraits, the faces of people, and their micro-expressions. When I find a portrait that looks particularly beautiful and well-done to me, it warms my heart and I feel proud of myself.
“…I LOVE PORTRAITS, THE FACES OF PEOPLE, AND THEIR MICRO-EXPRESSIONS.”
If you could choose one person from the past or future to take a picture of, who would you choose and why?
To be honest, I don’t really wish to take pictures of someone in particular, but it happens very often to me to come across incredible situations and faces. I would love to be able to take pictures of anyone I want, but I’m often afraid to ask strangers; you have no idea of how many portraits I’ve missed because of this mental block.
Social media are a powerful but, sometimes “difficult” channel. What’s your personal experience with them like? I guess it’s not always easy not to let you get influenced by what you read or see around.
Social media are such a beautiful but at the same time terrible world. Up to last January, I’ve used them in an almost toxic way, but as soon as I realized that, I built a defensive wall to protect myself. Unfortunately, some other people haven’t realized and will never realize this, but the world is full of people who share toxic positivity, urging you to be happy as a clam every day and making you feel guilty if one day you happen to feel sad or you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Feelings are made to be felt, and I think it’s crazy that somebody bothers to say otherwise. At the same time, there are people like Emma Chamberlain, whom I find necessary in the Internet world, who show without filters or weird textures the real life of a 20-year-old internationally famous girl suffering from anxiety or depression. She has millions of followers who see her as their best friend. My dream is to meet her one day and thank her.
“Unfortunately, some other people haven’t realized and will never realize this, but the world is full of people who share toxic positivity…”
What’s the latest thing you found out about yourself?
That I’m more emotional than I thought, I am often moved by beautiful things.
The book on your nightstand right now.
“The Song of Achilles” by Madeleine Miller. It’s about the love story between Patroclus and Achilles. I’d heard a lot about it and I eventually decided to buy it. I think it’s one of the most beautiful romance novels I’ve ever read.
Have you ever had an epic fail on set?
Yes, of course. The best one is the time I fell off horseback with Daniele Liotti, during the shooting of the TV series “Un passo dal cielo 5”. We were on the same horseback, together, we had to film the last take before wrapping up the scene and move on to the next. Because of an issue with the camera, we had to reshoot the entrance, circling a tree. We got a wrong measure of the space and, to move a branch away from my face, I lost my balance and dragged Daniele on the ground with me. Now, the thought of it makes me laugh, but I’ll never forget the fear in the eyes of the crew and the director that day. Daniele was mortified, but it was clearly my fault.
“We got a wrong measure of the space…”
Your must-have on set.
My earphones. I make a detailed playlist for every character I bring on set, so as to enter the mood of each scene.
What are you afraid of?
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done, instead?
I haven’t aligned myself with anything just to be liked by people, and I haven’t censored myself.
What’s your happy place?
Love. To love and take care of the people I love makes me feel complete and in another dimension.
Photos by Luca Ortolani.
Look: Sandro Paris