Interview with Italia Ricci of "Chasing Life" on ABC Family - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Italia Ricci

Interview with Italia Ricci of "Chasing Life" on ABC Family 12/2/14

ABC Familyís Q&A with Italia Ricci
Chasing Life

Moderator: What can you tell fans about the Chasing Life Christmas episode?

Italia: The previews havenít given too much away! Itís Christmas on Chasing Life, but itís not Christmas during the time thatís in the story. Christmas is one of Aprilís favorite holidays Ė The Carverís decide to try and help her create Christmas in her hospital room to possibly lift her spirits since sheís starting to lose her hair. That become the Christmas episode and we meet Aprilís dadís parents who come in to town. Theyíre played by Marion Ross and Ed Asner who are just comedic geniuses. Itís brilliant.

You get to see the dynamic with that side of the family and especially how they feel about Grandma who lives with us. Itís one of my favorite, favorite bits weíve done all season. Fans can look forward to that! You will see what happens to Leo and whether or not he has the surgery and how that goes, if it does go. You get to see April go through a few different hairstyle looks before she finally loses it all.

Moderator: Do you have your own holiday traditions? What are you looking forward to?

Italia: I love just being home with my family. Iím from Canada; so, Iím listening to non-stop Christmas music, and itís raining today, but normally itís hot and sunny and it just doesnít feel like Christmas.

Moderator: What was it like filming for the Christmas episode during the summer?

Italia: It was very strange because that was the last episode that we filmed all season, even though itís in the middle of the season. I believe we filmed it in August. It was all inside for me since April is in the hospital room. It wasnít supposed to be Christmas outside, so it didnít feel too weird but it got prematurely in the spirit. I was humming Christmas carols when I was coming home and everybody thought I was a bit nuts. It definitely just got me in the spirit a little too early [laughs]

Moderator: How do you get into character for April?

Italia: When I was shooting 20 episodes back-to-back, it was harder to get out of the character than it was to get into the character. She is so similar to me in our personalities, sheís just in a different universe, in a different situation than I am. Iím reacting in the way I think I would react based on the research Iíve done as far as medical and emotional and psychological things that go along with what sheís dealing with. I donít have to ďput on AprilĒ in the morning and I donít have to take her off completely at night. I keep feeling things the way I feel April is feeling them, even though itís not part of my personal life.

Itís a blessing and a curse at both of it. Then when I wrapped, I realized Iíve got to step away. Being able to do some things in my hiatus and during the offseason has really helped me be able to step away from that. But Iím so excited to jump back in for season two.

Moderator: Does April have any progress in her treatment and recovery during the Christmas episode?

Italia: We see this is the end of her chemo, the tail end of her chemo. We see how it finishes and you get an idea of how sheís going to recover, if sheís going to recover and whoís going to be there with her during it.

Moderator: What was it like behind the scenes filming this episode?

Italia: The wigs were so much fun! I kep the blonde one but I havenít worn it since. I want it just in case I ever feel like getting on a plane in a blond wig [laughs].

We called my IV pole ďSkinny,Ē that was his nickname. Whenever we werenít filming, we had that long hallway that we built and I would run and jump on it and slide across and then have to jump back in bed.

It was just so much fun working with Ed Asner and Marion Ross. Those two are so talented and so present and so sweet, just listening to them when we were in between scenes sitting in our chairs was amazing. Listening to their stories and how theyíve managed to be so pleasant and grateful and professional. Theyíre wonderful people. Thatís probably my favorite moment behind the scenes.

Since it was the last episode, we had the best food snacks on set. I am kind of obsessed with foods [laughs], so one day it would be a giant hot dog cart and the next was a massive mac and cheese bar. So that was a lot of fun!

Moderator: What should fans expect in the January premiere?

Italia: Weíll see the second half of the season as April gets back to where she left everything off. We see how she deals with everything now after having been through what sheís been through, with the chemo. You see how she deals with the physical aspect of chemo -- the things that happen to you physically after you finish chemo. Mentally, she becomes forgetful and dealswith trying to get back to where she was even before she was diagnosed. She just wants to be normal again. You see her battle with not being able to do certain things and try to figure out ways to make them happen. She makes mistakes and just wants to be a girl in her twenties again, and have fun and live her life. Youíll see her trying to do that but having some of those obstacles stopping her and how her friends react.

Youíll experience everything with her Ė itís so much fun, and very entertaining. I can definitely tell you that there is going to be a humiliating karaoke scene.

Moderator: What was your reaction when the show was picked up for a second season?

Italia: I was alone in Vancouver shooting a movie, and I had nobody to talk to, so I was literally running around my hotel room like a crazy person just screaming and crying and jumping on the bed [laughs]. Then, I came home and I was doing the same thing at my house and everybody was so excited for me. My friends were all so proud! I am so happy and so glad that I could be a part of telling this story and Iím so grateful that the audience feels like itís not only a story worth watching but itís a story that they can relate to and they feel represented by it. That just means so much to me.

My only goal when I find a job that I want to be a part of Ė is to do something that Iím proud of. I want to be proud of a story that Iím forever going to be grateful for ó or that I helped create. I couldnít imagine a better one, for where I am right now.

Moderator: What has been your favorite episode to film so far?

Italia: The Christmas episode was definitely fun because I got to see what myself in all of those different hairstyles! Also, the big finale is really fun. It is more of like different scenes from different episodes that I really had fun doing.

But, I would have to say that the Christmas episode was not only the most fun because we had the amazing guest stars that we did, but itís also the looks and the fact that it was the last episode that we filmed. It was like schoolís almost out for summer and the energy was really high; we were all so proud of all 21 episodes that we had shot. We were just so pumped that we got to do an extra one. It was just so much fun.

Moderator: Are you helping out with Stand Up to Cancer this holiday season? Whatís it like to partner with them?

Italia: Of course I will be helping out with them! Iím a huge fan of all of their attire and jewelry that I wear non-stop. Iím happy to do all of their events and all of their shout-outs and I want everybody to get involved because they are such an amazing organization and they represent things that are so meaningful to the evolution of the fight against cancer and all the research that theyíre doing is amazing. Iíll be doing everything I can to help out with them this holiday season.

Working with them has been incredible. At first, it was sort of intimidating because you donít even know where to start, you wonder ďhow could I actually make a difference?Ē You just do it; you just sort of close your eyes, jump in, and do everything you can. When youíre finally into it, itís so much better than you expect to feel.

I feel a little selfish because Iím doing it for the cause but it also makes me so happy to know that I am making a difference and that everybody can. You donít have to be famous; you donít have to have a ton of money. Just spreading the word and learning about it and being aware and trying to prevent these things by getting your checkups and knowing as much as you can and really supporting it --- that is all you need to do. If you want to do more, thatís fantastic, but if thatís all you can doóany little bit helps.

Moderator: If you could give April advice, what would you tell her?

Italia: You look great bald [laughs]! I would tell heróbecause it definitely gets hard and her family is there for her and sometimes that still doesnít feel like enough. I would tell her to not give up and stay strong. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I would tell her to keep holding on, never give up, stay strong, and keep believing that youíll be okay, because if you donít have that, then what are you holding on to?

Moderator: Do you have a favorite gift that you have ever given to someone?

Italia: I gave my fiancť an awesome gift! I tricked him into thinking that we were going to Vegas to see a Cirque Du Soleil show and he was going to be missing a Kings playoff game, so he was pretty angry about that [laughs]. I was so detailed about it too -- we got to the hotel room, and I had the concierge call up and leave a voice message that I knew he would hear saying that the limo is all set for the Cirque Du Soleil. I pretended that I was so upset that they had ruined the surprise. I took him to a race track in Vegas and he got to drive nine supercars as fast as he could, because he is a car freak. He was so ecstatic. Iíve never seen such joy on a personís face; it was fantastic!

Moderator: Do you have any resolutions for 2015?

Italia: Iím not sure yet. I kept my one this year; Iím pretty impressed with myself. This year was to get pretty good at a speed bag, which is so random, but I did it. Also, I said I would not eat McDonalds all year, because I am obsessed with McDonalds, I love McDonalds and I would eat it like four times a week. I havenít had it all year; 29 days and I can have it. I am so excited. Iím definitely not giving up any sort of food that I love again [laughs]. Iíll have to think about those; I havenít decided on any just yet.

Moderator: Are you team Leo or team Dominic?

Italia: Iíve never actually admitted this publicly before. I donít know if Iím ready to [laughs]. But, Iím team Leo.

Moderator: What can fans look forward to in the upcoming season?

Italia: Some really cute headbands! Itís going to center less specifically on April and youíre going to learn more about Brenna and what sheís going through. Youíll learn more about Sarah, more about Grandma, I love where Grandmaís storyline goes; itís pretty great. It becomes more of an ensemble. Everyoneís storyline widens the story a little more by going into more detail about Beth, and Dominic, and everybody else on the show. I think thatís going to be exciting for fans, for more of a blanketed area of relation for them.

Moderator: What is your favorite holiday song and your favorite holiday movie?

Italia: My favorite holiday movie, Iíve never seen Love Actually, but I think that would be one [laughs] Right now, my favorite Christmas song of all time is ďCarol of the BellsĒ by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It gets me every single time. I have the remix as my phone ringtone.

Favorite Christmas movie, I would have to go with those classic claymation, like Rudolph, the little-elf guy, and the Frostyís. Those are always ones that bring me back to being nine years old again.

Moderator: If you could pick someone to guest star on the show, who would it be?

Italia: I want Minnie Driver to be Sarahís best friend. Wouldnít that be great? She had reached out and said she was a fan of the show; so hopefully, this will light a little fire. Minnie, come join us; youíd have so much fun! [laughs]

Moderator: What can you tell us about Leoís decision to have his surgery? How important is that to April and their effect on each other?

Italia: From the episode photos that are online, itís obvious that he does get the surgery. What happens is not something that anybody expects and I think that April is proud and impressed and very grateful that Leo decided to fight because thatís been the driving force of the whole first half of the first season. To get him to do that, feels selfless and that opens up a whole new bridge connectivity between the two. That decision solidifies a stronger bond between the two of them, at least from Aprilís perspective. So thatíll be evidenced in the Christmas episode and obviously, it scares the hell out of her because he could die on that table.

Moderator: What have the fan responses to the show been like for you?

Italia: It has been so incredible! At first, when it was about to premiere, and Iíd seen the pilot a hundred times. My family and friends had been like, ďOh itís great.Ē Iím like, ďYou have to say that though because you love me.Ē [laughs] I canít judge things that Iím in, whether or not I think theyíre amazing or not. So, I canít get an accurate feeling on how it is until somebody completely unrelated to me sees it and lets me know how they feel, though everybodyís different.

The response was so wildly positive, that I was pinching myself. I was waiting for somebody to be like, ďPsych, weíre just kidding!Ē Everybody is so sweet. I have had virtually no negative feedback from the show. At first I was scared of, but now Iím really grateful for, were a lot of people being hesitant about an actor who has never dealt with cancer, portraying someone going through it. Then theyíre like, ďSomebody made me sit down and watch it and I did and Iím so grateful and you get it. I feel represented and I feel like someone gets me, and I can talk to people about it now.Ē Beyond feeling like Iíve done a good job as an actor, Iím so proud that this has become something that has made the young adult cancer community feel represented and feel validated. At one point, they felt like they were sort of a little pocket of people with cancer, and now they feel like they have a little bit more power and I feel like that is so important.

Itís also taking the stigma away from it and the scariness away from it. The fans have made it very clear, like, ďI had no idea what itís like for people and I knew my cousinís friendís dad had it, but I never knew what to say or how to talk to them, and now Iím not so scared of it.Ē It has done so many things and entertained people. I canít ask for a better response from the audience; Iím so grateful for them.

Moderator: If you could play any character on the show, aside from April, who would you want to play?

Italia: I think that it would be fun to play Grandma!

Moderator: Do you have a favorite part about filming the show?

Italia: The foodís pretty good! [laughs] But honestly, itís not just the cast and how well we get along, but the crew. Seeing the same faces every day, and them being such awesome people that I look forward to seeing every day and that Iíve missed so much since weíve wrapped. Even coming back to second season, Iíve texted everybody, ďYou better be coming back.Ē You create such a family because youíre spending 15 hours a day for 8 straight months with these people. They were all such great people. Thatís definitely my favorite thing.

Moderator: What is it like to be on set?

Italia: Itís fun, the energy is amazing -- everybody is so happy to be making this show. Everybody knows itís an important and relevant story to be telling, and everybody there wants to be doing the best job that they can and every job is just as important as an actorís on set. Being so committed, the energy is just like we got a good shot and weíre high-fiving each other [laughs]. Or weíd nail a scene and everybodyís like hugging; itís just so wonderful. Iíve been on sets that are the complete opposite of that and it reflects in the work. I think that thatís a big reason why people are enjoying the show so much is because weíre enjoying it behind the camera as much as you are watching it.

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