Discovering a world hand in hand with your character, almost as if they were a real-life mate, maybe the brother you’ve never had; filling, afterward, those gaps that would feature a past that’s temporally not far, but metaphorically light years away, given how many things have changed and how many more will change; what better aspiration for a person, especially if dealing with so many first times? And it’s when aspirations become achievements that you fall in love with the job and start worrying about the future.
According to the sacred law of compulsive post- (good quality) TV series/movie stalking for which anything and everything about the cast and crew must integrate my imagination to fill the void that the end of the story left me inside, I lingered on the Instagram profile of Mattia Carrano, the protagonist of “Prisma”, and on his number of followers, thinking, with a smile on my face, about the exponential rate to which that number will soon increase and in no time. It’s only a matter of days. It’s only a matter of time until people know. It’s only a matter of time until people watch. And “Prisma” will be a great success, and Mattia will be the find of the year.
The new Prime Video TV series evokes that kind of coming-of-age story that has given so much over the past few years: I’m thinking about the revolutionary “Call Me By Your Name”, “Euphoria”, “Thirteen Reasons Why”, “Love, Simon”, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. And “Prisma” tags along but departs from it at the same time, with its Italian style and range of almost-new faces. To give life to an almost-new story, secular but renewed, made of gentleness and culture in the most literal sense of the word: the rejection of ignorance.
Mattia, the protagonist (or rather, the protagonists) of “Prisma”, is both the origin and the product of a generation that fights against the rejection of knowledge, and a mirror of the new generation that makes us hope for a truer reality. And with the truth that belongs to him by nature, we hope he’ll tell us many more stories like this.
“Prisma” is one of the best series I’ve watched this year, the dialogues and the gestures, the expressions on your faces made me feel feelings which I hadn’t felt for a long time while watching a television product. What was your reaction when you read the script?
To be honest, as it was the first script I’d ever written in my whole life, at the beginning it all felt crazy. First and foremost, it was only when I got the script that I understood I got the part because they don’t tell you much before that, they usually tell you everything last second. In the end, it’s the week you start filming or doing costume rehearsals that you understand, although even then you can’t really be sure because you haven’t signed any paper yet [laughs]. But it’s fine, I get it, as you need to be 100% sure, especially for a character like mine which is very complex: to give a boy the responsibility of a whole product is a lot.
I read the script for the first time with my girlfriend, as if it was a novel, and I immediately fell in love it with, it was super cool because it featured so many particular dynamics between all the characters: Andrea and Daniele, Nina and Andrea, Marco and Carola, Carola and Daniele… Now, it sounds like I’m talking about a soap opera [laughs], but it’s actually exactly what happens between young people, it would happen to me when I was 17 or 18, and it still happens to me now, with my friend who falls in love with your friend and then your friend likes them and shit happens.
My only problem was that, while reading, I struggled with imagining things. Later on, however, the readings I did with Ludovico [Bessegato] helped me open up my mind and my imagination.
I think that fact that you play two characters instead of one and you’re so good at it (I must confess, I watched the whole first episode thinking that Marco and Andrea were played by two different actors) means that you have a highly developed sensitivity, that you can catch and fully embrace so many sides of that “prism” that is humanity. Was there instant empathy with both of your characters? With whom you felt an instinctive connection and whom, on the other hand, you had to analyze in a rather rational way?
That’s well put because everyone keeps asking me “who do you feel the closest to, who do you like the most between the twins?”, but you made the concept much truer, you described what I actually did on the set.
With Andrea, I was totally instinctive; I wasn’t even an actor before “Prisma”, so I won’t tell you that I did actorial work on the character because it’d be rubbish, it was all super instinctive.
Marco, instead, was the one on whom I had to work the most because he’s kind of my opposite; we have a few things in common, but it’s the character on which I had to put a lot of effort because I particularly cared about him. I used Marco to diversify the twins, I didn’t diversify my performances by considering them one at a time, I studied Andrea and then, consequently, Marco.
What would you steal from each of them?
I’d steal the same thing from both: the relationship they have with each other. I’m an only child, so I’d steal their brotherly bond.
The first adjectives that came to my mind as soon as I finished “Prisma” were: delicate, intelligent, with one foot in the present and one in the future. Would you want to add anything more?
Yes: real and profound. In one word, prism. The title is everything for this show, I think.
“In one word, prism.”
For you, as an audience member, which one among the characters, especially considering their development and the actions they perform (and those they don’t perform) from the beginning to the end, would be a source of inspiration or an example to follow?
In my opinion, it would be crazy to say something like “you need to follow the example of this character because they’re a perfect character” because it’s a show that talks about young people and portrays them for how they really are, so there are no perfections: everyone is looking for something, trying to understand what they want to do, whom they want to be and what they want to look like.
Now, I’m going to use Andrea as an example and then link it to the other characters: a few days ago, they asked me a question about the haters that might attack the show; I don’t care about those people and what they have to say. I would be the happiest person on Earth if what Andrea does, the path he’s taking, could help even just one real-life person who’s dealing with the same stuff he’s dealing with. I don’t care about the thousands of people who are going to hate the tv series because I only care about that one single person I’ve been able to help. And the same goes for all characters because everyone has their own journey and discovers themselves little by little, in their own way.
“Should we take our clothes off and see what happens?”. This is what Nina asks Andrea at some point, and it’s the quote that best represents the show, I think, being it the recount of an exploration of bodies and identities. Which “clothes” has this experience taken off you and which, on the other hand, has it put on you?
It took the ignorance of certain topics off me. Before “Prisma”, I wasn’t really informed about certain issues; I obviously was aware of gender fluidity and LGBTQ+, I have friends who belong to the community, but I’d never asked myself certain questions along my life journey. So, “Prisma” took that kind of ignorance off me and gave me so much new awareness, besides teaching me this job. I met wonderful people on this set and got to know Andrea’s world: we discovered it together.
If I think about Carola, the girl with one leg, and her strength, and the total absence of judgment with which friends and boyfriends hang out with her, if I think about the vulnerability of male characters, the sexual curiosity that no one cares about hiding, I feel proud of this new generation and also a bit envious for the freedom with which young people, today, live their adolescence. Under which aspects do you feel part of Gen Z and from which do you diverge (if you do)?
I diverge from the tendency of part of our society to avoid getting informed and learning certain things. I’m thinking of something abstract, which I struggle to explain also because I’m not really a talker, although I’m kind of into “sermons”! [laughs]
So, I can tell you that I diverge from what’s wrong, at least for me, and I’m not going to annoy you with banalities, but I’m against all things related to the ignorance of those who belong to a society. I live in Rome, which is a very big city, and I realize that, luckily enough, lots of people who belong to my generation, but also older ones, do care, do want to get informed, do understand certain issues, just like it happened to me with Andrea. Before “Prisma”, I’d never questioned something like: “What if I didn’t feel good in my body, what if I didn’t feel comfortable in front of other people, what if I couldn’t be myself?”. How shitty would that be?
And this makes me think that if when you’re out of your house and in the public eye, you can’t wear what you want, do what you want, or say your opinion on things because everyone’s there ready to judge you, it means that oftentimes we, from our generation, or even people from the younger one, are not used to dialogue. Then, obviously, it all depends on your parents, what you do and what kind of personality you have. However, there will never be something like a perfect generation because we’re so many people on this planet and we will certainly always be different from one another, which is nice…
Think about a world where we’re all perfect, how weird would it be?
“There will never be something like a perfect generation because we’re so many people on this planet and we will certainly always be different from one another, which is nice…”
How boring would it be?
On this note, Andrea hides a huge secret, which inevitably, with the passing of time, starts consuming him. What do you think about secrets? Do you have any? Can you keep them?
I’m a brilliant secrets-keeper – if a friend of mine tells me something confidentially, I’d take that to the grave. I’m also someone who always tells the truth – if I can’t stand you, I’ll tell you, if you say to me something that I don’t like, I’ll tell you. Anyway, we all have our secrets, especially all those little things like the cigarette you smoke hiding from your mom, the girl you start dating but don’t want your friends to know about, those kinds of things!
If you observe something through a prism, you get an altered version of it; the prism, as an object, is a filter of reality that gives you a deconstructed and false version of it. Metaphorically speaking, what’s your prism? What is it that sometimes clouds your mind and keeps you from seeing reality for what it is?
Thoughts. So many times, we get in the way of ourselves, we’re obsessed with what other people might say and might do, but the truth is that, often, nothing of what we’re thinking really exists, and our mind sometimes puts us in trouble, it’s the main obstacle.
Andrea is confused, Marco is impulsive, Daniele is repressed, every character is fragile in its own way, at times a stranger to their own bodies. What does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
I’m very comfortable with myself and maybe this is also the reason why I’ve never asked myself certain questions. To me, to feel comfortable in your own skin means to feel good with yourself because when you do feel good with yourself, you’re also good with those around you. It all comes from within, from whom you are, whom you feel you are, and whether you feel all right; you know when you’re getting ready for a night out, and you make yourself pretty for that night out and this makes you feel good? At that moment, you feel so good in your skin and this automatically makes you enjoy everything that happens for the rest of the night. It’s very important to feel good about ourselves, I think it’s the beginning of everything because otherwise, we could not even be authentic.