Quantcast Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni interview

Actress Coralina
Icons Of Fright is proud to present a FRIGHT exclusive interview with actress/musician/painter Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. Coralina made her genre debut in Lamberto Bava's DEMONS 2 and later worked several times with Dario Argento in OPERA, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and the upcoming, eagerly anticipated THE THIRD MOTHER (MOTHER OF TEARS). She recently sat down with us to discuss everything from her music, to working on Argento's latest to making her first convention appearances! Read on for what we consider one of our best featured interviews! - by Robg., Mike C., Adam Barnick, John Torrani 7/07
Robg.: What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? The first films that had an impact on you or scared you?

Well, hmm… scared me? DEEP RED was a movie that had an impact on me and scared me. In a positive way.

Mike C.: What do you remember about that one that affected you so much?

In some crazy way, I felt like I related to that movie. It spoke to me in some manor and it gave me this crazy feeling as if my life was similar to how that movie made me feel. Even as a little girl. It gave me this sense of foreseeing what I’d become as a person. I know, that sounds odd. (Laughs)
Mike C.: Is that because it flashes back to childhood?

The feeling that DEEP RED gave me was the feeling that I’ve always had inside of my life. The spirit of the movie is kind of how I felt at the time. And it also kind of told me who I’d become one day. The kind of mind I’d grow up with. I loved the music, which was a very, very important to me as well, because I’d watch that movie on TV at night, and I remember my mother was sleeping in the other room and after the movie was over I went over to my father’s piano and started recreating the same notes I’d just heard from the score. In Italy, you could catch DEEP RED at 3PM in the afternoon on tv. But I caught it late at night… which made things even better.
Robg.: Now, you were born here in New York, but moved to Italy when you were fairly young. Did you start your acting career at a young age too? When did acting begin for you?

A lot of fans know this, but I was born into a family of opera singers and my father was an opera stage director, and my father had an opera company here in New York, so when I was at the tender age of 3 and a half, I was given my first little singing role in one of the operas he had put on with his company, so I slowly started working with his company doing singing roles here and there. It kind of started that way.

Mike C.: And when did you make the transition to film?

I had thought I was going to be a rock star. (Laughs) Music was really my passion. But then I started doing theater, and figured what the hell? I’ll go on some auditions. I started going to many auditions, but my agent kept sending me mainly for commercials. Now, do I look like the commercial kind of girl??! It was only natural I never got cast. BUT...I finally got cast as the lead in a short film. I actually thought they would not cast me because I went into the audition with a bad attitude. I was so tired of trying… It actually worked out really great, because I kind of let go that day. I was convinced I would not get cast for this either. Chance had it, that the role they were looking for was a girl that had a little bit of an attitude. Well... I got cast, and it was shown on national TV. And this short film, called In Cerca D'Amore (Searching for Love)...so 80's... was in movie theaters as well. From then on it started happening, and then of course, I met Dario Argento. And once again, going back to DEEP RED, I felt as if I called for all this to happen. I thought Dario Argento was the only one doing something in Italy truly different.
Robg.: What was your first meeting with Dario like? Was it intimidating at all considering what a fan of his you were?

I met Dario in this club and I was a big fan of his, but I did not tell him at first that I was an actress, because I had such an admiration for him that I did not feel it was appropriate. I just told him I was studying at the University of Rome, which I was. I was trying to study psychology, and later he saw this short film that I was in on TV and he asked, "How come you never told me you were an actress?" I really just wanted to be his friend! After he saw the short though, I got cast in DEMONS 2.
Robg.: What do you remember about the whole experience of doing DEMONS 2, besides being in a tremendous amount of make-up for the majority of the time?

It was great. It was such an honor. I did remember the night before my first day of filming.. Movies like that are shown in major movie theaters there. So it was a really scary thing for me and I remember the night before I was sitting on the edge of my bed and I started crying a little bit! I thought "Oh my God. How am I going to do this? This is a big deal." I remember that very vividly. I wanted so bad to do a good job. And I think it went well, right?

Mike C.: Can you explain to the Icons Of Fright audience how Argento is viewed in Italy, and explain why you would be feeling so nervous to work on a movie with his involvement? He’s almost like a rock star out there, right?

Yes. I’d say he’s a mixture of Spielberg and David Bowie! You walk around with him and you’re walking around with Bowie mixed with Mick Jagger. Yes, he’s a rock star. But he’s very humble. He’s great with the fans. He always gives his time with them and signs autographs. People love him. When we did this last movie, the news would announce where we shooting and what we were doing. It’s on Italy's national news. He’s very important to us. Even to people that are not into horror, in Italy Dario Argento is Dario Argento.

Mike C.: They’re not kidding when they say he’s the Italian Hitchcock.

Robg.: Now, for DEMONS 2, your character is memorable because of this extensive make-up you wear. A lot of people often say how uncomfortable it is to undergo so much make-up. Was it uncomfortable for you, or were you just so excited to be a part of the movie?

I had a blast. I felt like it couldn’t get better then this. It was my first movie with these great icons, right? Giving me this huge responsibility. Yes, it’s tough, it’s a lot of hours, but it’s my work! So, I thought it was great.
Robg.: Can you tell us a little bit how you initially got involved with OPERA?

Once again, (Dario) called me. He had me in mind for this. I remember meeting him with the producers in the lobby of a hotel and basically he introduced me by saying this is going to be Julia in OPERA and the producers said "Great" and that was it! I was in.
Mike C.: Considering how nervous you were to be working under the direction of Bava for DEMONS 2, a production Dario was involved with. What’d it feel like to know this time around you were going to be directed by Dario himself for OPERA?
Well, I cried before DEMONS, can you imagine how I was before OPERA? (Laughs) Well, Dario and I at that point had a friendship, and I knew he gave me this part and wrote this for me, and I felt comfortable delivering this role for him. It’s nerve-racking, even today. Even with this last movie (MOTHER OF TEARS). There are two things I have to remember and keep in mind when I’m doing this job. Of course, Dario Argento and my fans. That’s an obsession I have. To do a good job for both of them. Dario and the fans.
Robg.: In terms of working with Dario, I wanted to talk a bit about your death scene in OPERA. The way it’s built up in the movie, it’s very artistic with a series of close up shots of the dress you’re working on and so forth. Did you have any idea that that’s the way the sequence would be cut together or did you just have to trust whatever he told you?
No idea. You read in the script but you never have a complete picture of it. You have an idea of what it’ll look like, but it’s definitely not the same as when you’re sitting there and seeing it in the movie theater for the first time. It becomes so different.

Robg.: How difficult is it to die in an Argento movie?

That’s what it’s all about! For me, to be killed by Dario Argento is an honor. It’s a moment of love, the moment that I come to life. Not only does my character come to life be it Julia or Giselle or even Sally, but I as a human being come to life. I’m given that eternity that I’m so obsessed about. You know, you want eternal life or immortality. And what better way then to be killed by Dario Argento and thus be immortal. And then your character becomes immortal and it’s great.

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA I don’t get killed and I remember asking him "Do I get killed?" and him saying, "No, in this one you don’t get killed." (Laughs) But that’s ok. It’s great. You wait for that moment of death and you build your character contingent to that moment as well, so you hope the contrast works.

Mike C.: So, Dario often plays "the killer" in his movies. He’s the hand in the glove. What’s that like? Not only is he directing you in these scenes and directing your death, but he’s performing it as well.

It’s all about the love making! That moment. He’s always there. He created that moment. He wrote it. He created that moment of love, so who better then him to perform it.

The Beholder
Robg.: One of the things I find very interesting about you is that you have a lot of creative outlets. You work on music, you work in films, you paint your own artwork. Would you say those outlets all reflect different aspects of your personality? What does each creative medium mean to you?

When you’re an artist and you’re not working or doing something, you’re not that fun to be around! So, I always have to be doing something. I think they’re all very co-dependent with each other. My music, my acting, my art. They live co-dependently happy together. I think they all are intimately connected. Music is very important. When I’m acting, I feel a sense of music, I feel a sense of rhythm. I am in a painting. Everything one does is connected. When I paint, I can’t paint without my music. When I am acting I am choosing different shades and forms as if I am creating a painting. For me, it’s all the same. Like life, it’s all one.

Robg.: You have a lot of your music on you’re My Space page, which is excellent, by the way. How’d you meet and hook up with your musicians, Danny Jonstone and Stevie C?

I met them right before I got called in for THE THIRD MOTHER (MOTHER OF TEARS). So, actually they’ve been great because they’ve been waiting for me to come back after this past 8 months of traveling all over the place promoting the movie. So, just before leaving we got together with this last line up. So, finally now that I’m back, I’m hoping to get back together and do some shows in New York City, which I really would love to do, because Manhattan is my home town. Coming back here after having worked in Europe is really an emotional thing for me. Coming back home, hopefully with something positive.
Mike C.: How is it working internationally and then coming back to America? Your film work is mostly Italian. Where is home for you?

Home is in the exact moment I am creating. When I am on stage, when I am painting or singing. I feel safe. Fullfilled. I guess that's what home must feel like. Home is also... I guess right here, right now. Because I have moved all over the place, so it’s been a battle my whole life. Sometimes I say when I die, I want my ashes – thrown in the exact point between Italy and America. Right there in the middle of the ocean. Because I don’t know! I had a little cat about a year and a half ago that died and she was my home.
Robg.: I just read about a movie you did called GHOST SUN that Lamberto Bava did. But I haven’t heard much about it. Can you tell us a little bit about GHOST SUN?

It’s in movie theaters, I believe still playing in Rome right now. It stars Laura Harring from MULHOLLAND DR. It’s a very small cast. Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite…

Robg.: Great actor! Great cast.
Yes. John Hannah from SLIDING DOORS and THE MUMMY. And Mosa Kaiser who was the little girl in HOTEL RWANDA. And that was pretty much it. We shot it in South Africa. It was the day before my birthday. I remember Lamberto emailed me and said he was looking for me. "Where are you? Call me!" And I called him and he said, "Do you want to come to South Africa to shoot a movie?" (Laughs) So, I said YES! That was a great experience. The crew was incredible. The movie’s quite interesting. It’s a love story with a psychological twist.
Mike C.: I’ve always been curious with the process of filmmaking in Italy. Because you just mentioned this international cast working on an Italian film. How do language barriers play into all this?

Many are shot in English. A lot of the times, the Italians speak enough English to be able to be working. Dario speaks it. Lamberto speaks it. But there is also an interpreter. With actors it might be hard. The actors you see, sometimes they might not know what’s going on. For example, on PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Julian Sands, we shot it in Hungry, and on set everyone was speaking Italian and Hungarian and I felt bad for him! Its situations like that where you feel bad, because what can they do other then sit in the corner and read a book! It’s tough on the actors especially. I have duel citizenship, and I can speak Italian fluently, so for me it’s really good, because I can speak both.
Robg.: Does that mean you get to dub both your Italian and English voice for some of these movies?

Well, sometimes. DEMONS 2, for example is not me. OPERA is not me in English. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, although it’s a British accent, that IS me. And this new one (MOTHER OF TEARS) will be me as well.

Mike C.: That PHANTOM OF THE OPERA movie is interesting…

That’s an elegant way of putting it. A lot of people don’t like it.

Mike C.: Well, it’s just so different for Argento!

Well, why not? It was a very courageous decision. He had his vision for his PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. He gave it his little comedic sense to it, and said this is how I want to do it. Good for him. I enjoyed it. I’m surprised more people don’t enjoy it.

Mike C.: Perhaps a lot of fans confuse it with OPERA? Because they both have a very similar theme?

Sure, it might be a similar, but how many directors write and keep similar themes? I can’t complain, right? Keep doing movies on opera and keep calling me! (Laughs) Because also it’s a world that I am familiar with. So, when I would go on set on OPERA or PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, I really felt like I was going home. The smell of the wood, even the stench of the costumes. Backstage memories of my childhood. While actors were going on set, I felt like I was going home. And I’m sure these are some of the reasons why Dario thought of me for these movies as well, because it was such a familiar sensation.

Robg.: How quickly did MOTHER OF TEARS come together? From the first time you heard about it to actually filming it? A lot of people were surprised when he announced the third "mother" movie.

Well… The truth is I kind of knew about it for some time. It’s really hard to keep these things close to yourself, but out of respect and care and gratitude that I have towards him even though I already knew he was considering me, I kept the news to myself. I did not even tell my mother! It was tough (keeping it a secret) but I couldn’t say anything. That’s a bit of an Italian superstition thing. I did get the call when they were about to start the movie, but I kind of knew that this might happen. The beauty of this was that when we were shooting this, and after my death scene, there was this very intense moment where I went to thank Dario for giving me this opportunity, and he says "Just like Julia, this was written with you in mind." I was covered in blood, so I figured I could get a little teary eyed without him knowing. (Laughs) It was a great thing to know that he knew already that he wanted me for this role. It’s not a huge role, but a pivotal one for the movie. I’m hoping that the reason that he gave me this is because where it is positioned in the movie, it’s important that I deliver. So, I’m hoping you guys like it, and I hope I delivered! If anything from this movie gets cut, all I can say is I put so much devotion, into this character of Giselle.

Robg.: Well, we’ve seen a lot of photographs of you in this movie, and it seems that a lot of terrible, terrible things happen to you in this movie! Care to comment on that at all?

Well, shall I comment on the fact that too many photos (on line) cheapen my work and Dario’s work? Because it’s too much shown. You take care of little meticulous things in your acting so that when the fans see it, they go "Wow!" But if they’ve already seen it in a picture, it takes the "wow" out of it. But yes, the death scene we hope… well, you’ve seen a lot of it already!

Robg.: I’ve only skimmed thru some pictures, but I still think it’s going to have its wow factor!

Mike C.: So, are you surprised by the amount of buzz the film is getting here in America? It made the front page of Variety!

Yes. And the great thing was we were all in LA when we saw that. Imagine, you come from Italy, you’re in LA and you pick up the Variety at the news stand and see MOTHER OF TEARS on the cover!! Let’s hope it sees a decent release here. But I’m having a great time promoting it.
Mike C.: I’d love to see an Argento movie in the theaters here! These are big, big movies there!

Oh, in Italy, people go nuts! They’ll show it in a downtown Loews theater and people really get into it.

Mike C.: Let’s go to Italy! So many international films this past year have gotten a lot of attention and wide releases. You think of films like Pan’s Labyrinth, which is in Spanish and culled up a $30 million box office. Maybe we’re ready for more of that here.

Let’s hope so.

Robg.: You just made an appearance at the FANGO show in Burbank and then another appearance at the New Jersey FANGO this year. What’s the convention experience been like for you? Have you been surprised by the fan base?

Yes. I mean, at first I didn’t know all this was going on here in the U.S!

Robg.: There’s a lot of horror nerds out there! You’re surrounded by a bunch right now.

I love them all! It’s great! Horror fans are just incredible for many reasons. I can go on and on about that. But yes, I was completely pleasantly surprised. I had no idea what we were doing out there had such a big impact here. To go to LA and have directors that have worked on major movies that know your work, and love your work. It feels like The Twilight Zone, but it’s great! Once again, I am an American. So to come back after having worked in the Italian genre is great. I feel like I came back to my own country after having won the war overseas. (Laughs)

"Un Bacio da Te che Brucia Come il Sole ed Uccide Come un Re"
[A Kiss From You That Burns Like The Sun and Kills Like a King]
Adam Barnick: Who in terms of painters and musicians do you connect with? Who interests you and why?

I really don’t connect with a lot of painters. I can see certain artists and appreciate them, like Munch or Modigliani, but mainly music and musicians have an impact on my art. First as a child I fell in love with Giacomo Puccini as my favorite opera composer. And then when I was 11-12, I started getting into punk rock, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Lou Reed. But I still love opera, and now opera and rock are one to me. It's all music.

Adam Barnick: Can you talk a bit about your process for painting? Do you prepare at all for what you’re going to paint or are you completely guided by your original emotion?

I’m completely guided my original emotion. Exactly. I just go by how I’m feeling. What music I choose to play which will understand me in that particular moment. It might sound like I am contradicting myself right now but... It's not what I choose, the music kind of chooses me. What’s going to talk to me and do something to me. I choose a piece of music, put it on the stereo and I just go. It’s really about the music and how I’m feeling. All I paint is autobiographical. All these figures or human presences are people that are in my life or in my past life, or even visions of people that I will see in the future. I’ll meet new people and think "God, I’ve painted you!" So, it’s all about how I feel. It’s all I know really. It’s all I really have.

"Un Bacio da Te che Brucia Come il Sole ed Uccide Come un Re"
[A Kiss From You That Burns Like The Sun and Kills Like a King]

Adam Barnick: Do you have any plans to perhaps have a gallery showing here in Manhattan?

Yes hopefully! I’ve been so crazy helping to promote THE THIRD MOTHER and GHOST SUN that it’s kind of been on the back burner. But now that I’m back here in New York, I’m going to try to get the music going again and get another exhibit. I might do something in Rome, possibly with Claudio Simonetti from Goblin where I’ll be doing an art exhibit in one hall room and his show with Demonia would be in the other hall room, and I would perform a few of my songs with them as well.

John Torrani: What’s your relationship like with Asia Argento? What’s she like as a person? What’s she like to work with?

I’ve known her since she was a little bitty person! She was in DEMONS 2, I’d be sitting in the make-up chair and she’d be there with her camera taking pictures. She was always so interested in everything. Very interested in things and people and life. She’s a very hard worker. Great memory. She’ll pick up a script and just memorize it so easily. We’ve known each other for a very long time, so when we do scenes together like in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, or MOTHER OF TEARS there’s this very unspoken protectiveness we have for each other. We’ll do a scene, but then we’ll talk about our personal life, but also then give each other ideas about how we’re going to do the scene. We’re accomplices when we work on these things. Unfortunately I don’t get the chance to talk to her or see her as much as I would like to. But every time we see each other, it’s like reconnecting with your high school friend.
When we reconnect, we’re still close friends. Also, I would like to add that Dario Argento does have another daughter named Fiore Argento. Fiore which means flower. She’s a fashion designer. Very similar to her father and a great, great girl. Everyone often talks about Asia, but there’s also Fiore out there. She’s in the first DEMONS and PHENOMENA but she is really a talented fashion designer. She’s very elegant and eloquent. Just had to mention her!

Robg: Thanks so much for your time, Coralina!

Thank you for the great interview and all your support. It is truly appreciated.


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