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Woody Allen's Italian Export: Alessandra Mastronardi

The "To Rome with Love" actress on working with the famed director and seeing her native city through his eyes.

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Woody Allen's Italian Export: Alessandra Mastronardi

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Actress Alessandra Mastronardi raises her U.S. visibility with a charming turn in Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love."

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Born in Naples and raised in Rome, Alessandra Mastronardi is a popular and accomplished television and film performer in her native country. Handpicked by Woody Allen to add local flavor alongside an all-star cast that includes her countryman Roberto Benigni and Americans Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page, Mastronardi, 26, plays a starry-eyed bride who suddenly finds herself facing unexpected temptation in "To Rome with Love."

How familiar with the films of Woody Allen were you before you got involved in this project?

Oh, I always loved his movies – he's a legend for me! My biggest, best, most amazing director in the world, so for me it was incredible when they said to me 'Woody Allen wants to shoot his movie in Rome.'. I said, 'Really? That's fabulous for us.' Then they said, 'He's searching for an Italian actress.' So I think that I was the number 2,011 at the auditions. It was full of people there. Everyone wanted to do it. It's a big gift.

Were you happy to work in your native language in this film?

I'm happy because I'm Italian and I love the fact that there is an Italian movie in Woody Allen's career. I'm really glad of that, but I've already worked in English and so it wouldn't have been a really big problem if he'd have said, 'Can you just speak in English?' 

The film’s lighthearted in tone throughout. You have one of the more comedic plot lines and you play it very straightforward. How did you approach the role?

I just follow my instincts in the beginning, and then reading the script and talking just a bit with Woody he said to me that part of my role was an homage to the Fellini film called 'Lo Sceicco Bianco' with Alberto Sordi. That movie is a bit dramatic, compared with Woody Allen's.

How do you feel about Rome, the city, because it's such a character in this film?

Like a Roman person, at the beginning I thought maybe it was not really, really a window to Rome, a real window, but I said, 'Well, I don't have to think about that because it's not a documentary movie.' So, I don't have to be upset if my city is not exactly like my city is. So, I forget about that and I watched the movie from another point of view and I said, 'Well, it's a beautiful postcard from Woody Allen to the world.'

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