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Interview with Italia Ricci of
"Chasing Life" on
ABC Family 12/2/14
ABC Familyís Q&A with Italia Ricci
Moderator: What can you tell fans about the Chasing Life
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Moderator: If you could give April advice, what would you
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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