I recently got the chance to talk to Susanna Cappellaro about her role in Tim Burton’s new movie, ‘Dark Shadows’. Here, Susanna talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how she got into acting in the first place…
(Credit: Leah Gallo).
Hey Susanna. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Dark Shadows’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film? I understand it’s a remake of sorts…way before my time…
I suppose it is not correct to call it a remake but you can say it is based upon the gothic soap opera that aired in the ’60’s in the States. Ahah, that was before my time too and also, as I grew up in Italy, I have never encountered it until recently. It was a real cult TV show and still today has a massive following. If you browse around on the web you will see lots of fan websites and blogs.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
My character is called Naomi Collins and she is the mother of Barnabas (young Barnabas), played by Johnny Depp. She sails from Liverpool to the States with her husband and kid and sets the foundation for the story. Although, if you have seen the movie, you most probably know that it is a very tiny part, I am so happy and honoured to have been chosen for it.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
It was a very standard procedure. I was called in for an audition by Susie Figgis, the casting director. I remember when I got the phone call I was on the set of Berberian Sound Studio and it was my last day of filming. I was lying on the sofa thinking that I love acting so much and wondering when I would have ever had another chance to do it as I didn’t have an agent…and she called. Fantastic timing. I then went to see her and I was so thrilled that I remember telling her, in a complete daze of joy, that I would have even worked for free….
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Everything that comes out of Tim’s imagination is unique. The story isn’t, as the plot follows the TV show, but it is certainly a vampire story with a real quirky twist. And with such an incredible cast and crew you can only produce excellent work.
The film stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Grace Moretz and Gulliver McGrath – with Tim Burton onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I only met Tim and Eva and I had a very very very short conversation with Johnny. It was absolutely amazing to see them at work. I’m very new to the acting world (this is the first movie I am in, the next one, Berberian Sound Studio, will be released next year) and to have a chance to see how they work was a real blessing. Tim is as friendly as person could be, welcoming and reassuring, you really see that he just loves his job and it was cool to see Eva on set. We shared the set for a scene and to observe how she maintained her character and how she was focused was enlightening. I tend to observe a lot in order to learn as I didn’t attend a proper drama school, you know a three years one, I did evening courses, short courses, summer courses….I mean, what an amazing school right? A set of a Tim Burton’s film! Uhm, anecdotes? Luckily everything went rather smoothly, apart than my legs were trembling so much when I was standing up on the cliff , all harnessed, but my dress was so wide you would have never noticed! I don’t do well with heights.
Let’s talk a bit about you Susanna. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I’m a bit late to the game. When I moved to London about five years ago, my English was dreadful so I thought some acting lessons would have done the trick. I went to all sort of very quirky classes. And I always had a real curiosity for acting, I actually wrote, directed and acted (of course I gave myself the lead role ahaha) a play when I was 13 in front of the whole school with parents and I remember how much I did love it. But then life took me in a very different direction. I worked for a long time as a stylist and a writer. I still write for Vogue and produce video interviews for them. I suppose I didn’t want to have regrets and the more classes I took, the more I liked it and now I am here.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
I am only at the very beginning myself, but I suppose you cannot be afraid of failure and what they call rejection – (I never see it as rejection, I believe that simply you belong elsewhere). It is a hard job in the sense that you need to be very confident of your abilities but also realistic of where you belong. Have a hard, honest look at yourself. For example, I would never even dream of asking to play any Shakespearian text, I leave it to the Brits! And then stay focused, have your goal clear in your mind.
If you were stranded on a desert island – what three ‘personal’ things could you not live without?
My Mac, a Wi-fi connection, and computer plug. I suppose I have a real necessity to communicate.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Very hard one. Terry Gilliam, because I’ve already had dinner with him and he is so much fun and he is so inspirational that I want to do it again. Stephen Fry, because he is so funny and witty and he is a living Oscar Wilde. Johnny Depp because I have heard so many nice things about him and I didn’t get a chance to properly meet him.
What is your favourite word?
Farewell. Such an elegant way to wish someone good fortune and goodbye.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I have just finished filming a most beautiful film called ‘Avenue To Nowhere’. My fist leading role and I had to learn French for it! It is a project very close to my heart, we mostly crowd funded it and it was filmed between London and Paris in black and white 16 mm… a film noir. I’m so looking forward for it to be completed. And the cast and crew were so amazing, we had a very fun time on set, despite all the things that go wrong on indie productions…I have plenty of anecdotes for this one! From batteries in the van dying right when it is time to go home to violent junkies getting in the way.
For the rest of the year I am working on a project on its very early stages with a director friend of mine – (Nadia Marquard Otzen, check her out she is really amazing ) and auditioning. Fingers crossed. Oh also I want you to cross my fingers for a little dream of mine, if ever there will be a ‘Dark Shadows 2’, that my character may be, even briefly, brought back as a vampire…the experience was so beautiful I wanna do some more….
Thanks for the interview!