Mattea Conforti discussed playing a younger Janice Soprano in The Many Saints Of Newark, an upcoming prequel to The Sopranos.
Read on below for Mattea’s full interview article or listen back to the conversation on the Courageous Nerd YouTube channel, linked below.
Welcome Mattea and thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Mattea Conforti (MC): Thank you for having me.
In addition to your upcoming role as Young Janice Soprano in The Many Saints Of Newark, you’ve also had roles in Frozen 2 and Gotham. What made you decide to pursue acting as a career?
MC: When I was younger, I never really thought about getting into acting or singing. My parents had these friends who had an agency in mind and said I should see an agent for some dancing roles. I was a competitive dancer. One day, I went to an open call for Matilda, just for a dancing ensemble role. Six months later, they called me back for the role of Matilda.
Without giving too much away, what can you tease about the plot of The Many Saints of Newark?
MC: I think it definitely shows a lot of character development and bridges the gap between the audience wondering what would have happened before The Sopranos. It definitely shows how mindsets were formed and how Tony Soprano became Tony Soprano. What happened and what shaped his personality.
As The Sopranos ended in 2007 and you are only 15 years of age, how familiar were you with the original HBO series before joining The Many Saints Of Newark?
MC: We filmed this a while ago, I was 12. I wasn’t really allowed to watch the series then. My parents and grandparents, my whole family are huge Sopranos fans. They helped me out with the description of Janice and how to portray her. So, that definitely helped.
Playing a younger version of a well-established character can be a daunting task for any actor. Did you take any inspiration from Aida Turturro’s portrayal of Janice in the television series?
MC: I focused on the version I had in the script. I didn’t watch the series before the movie came out. My parents definitely helped me when we were reading the lines together, they told me what was going on in the series with Janice.
The Many Saints Of Newark features a large ensemble cast including Leslie Odom Jr, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Corey Stoll and Ray Liotta. Was there a lot of pressure in working with such well-known actors? Did you get to meet anyone in particular during production?
MC: I had a few scenes with Vera and she was really nice. I loved her, such an incredible actress. I was at the premiere – and when I did Matilda, I was one of those annoying kids obsessed with the Hamilton cast. I was fangirling a bit [over Leslie Odom Jr] at the premiere, I got a picture with him. I was excited to meet him. I didn’t really think about pressure or actors I’m working with, I just focused on myself and the scenes I was in.
What do you hope fans of The Sopranos take away from watching The Many Saints Of Newark?
MC: They’ll definitely see it’s a movie that can hit all different types of genres in one take. There’s gore, drama, suspense, thriller, comedy. Everything that you could want to watch is in The Many Saints of Newark. So, definitely one to watch.
As well as Film and Television, you have also worked on the Broadway stage. Do you have a preference between acting on stage or screen?
MC: They’re so different to compare, really. When you’re on stage, you get that live feedback from the audience every night. You have to learn everything in one night and really be in character. You can really slip out of character. When you’re in TV, you get those multiple takes, learn your lines before each scene. Also, you don’t have to make your movements or facial expressions as exaggerated because the camera’s right in front of you. So, I really enjoy doing both.
Professionally or personally, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming months?
MC: I hope to just book more and get to stay involved in acting lessons. Try to get as much experience as I can, because no matter what a role is, what a character, I could be playing any good or bad experience. It helps you for the next big thing that you’re going to book or produce. So, I think that’s what I want to focus on, this year.
Thanks again for taking the time, Mattea. Take care and stay safe!
MC: Thank you!