Interview by Carole Di Tosti
You are probably familiar with Mattea Conforti if you saw her on Broadway in the title role of Matilda the Musical at age 9. Since then this shining star has appeared in Sunday in the Park with George opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Disney’s Frozen as Young Anna.
During the interview, Mattea shared her experiences as a regular on the hit AMC series NOS4A2 opposite Zachary Quinto and Ashleigh Cummings. In NOS4A2, a suspense/fantasy drama of supernatural horror, Conforti portrays Millie Manx, daughter of Zachary Quinto’s character.
CD: You have acted on TV, in film and on Broadway. Any preference?
MC: No. In each one I am able to tell a powerful story and connect with my audience. On Broadway you get one shot to make that connection to reach the entire audience each night. I enjoy this challenge. With TV/film, the moments are subtle. One’s impact on an audience is just as important and effective, though you don’t project as much. You have the opportunity to work on scenes, trying out new acting choices for the director, equally enjoyable.
CD: What were the particular challenges working on NOS4A2?
MC: One of the biggest challenges was working with my demon teeth! Though they were custom fit, they weren’t super comfortable. We shot in Rhode Island in the late fall and winter. A lot of my scenes were at night. It was really cold. Thankfully, they had powerful heaters and delicious soups to keep us warm!
CD: What is it like working with Zachery Quinto?
MC: It’s like taking a master class in acting. He is extremely professional when he is acting on set or preparing for scenes. But he has a playful side, and is fun to be around when we’re not on set.
CD: Have you seen the episodes?
MC: Yes. I find my scenes to be surprising. Often, I’m shooting in front of a green screen. The special effects are added during post-production. Shooting in the horror genre is never as scary as what you actually see on the screen. With the special effects and music added in post-production, the final version that you see on TV is so much scarier!
CD: You have done ensemble work in The Viper Club and Three Generations. What was it like to work with those strong women actresses?
MC: I was seven years old when I worked with Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon and Elle Fanning in Three Generations. At the time, I didn’t realize what legends these women were. I remember the first day I met Ms. Sarandon. We were shooting the final scene of Three Generations in a sushi restaurant in the East Village. There was a generous spread of sushi on the table. We were encouraged to eat some during the scene. As a seven-year-old with no filter at all, I exclaimed, “No way! I don’t like sushi!” Ms. Sarandon said to me, “Mattea, you shouldn’t say you don’t like it because some people might really enjoy sushi. Instead, you should say, ‘No thank you. It’s just not for me.’” I have never forgotten her advice which I use in similar situations. I was lucky enough to work with Ms. Sarandon a few years later in The Viper Club. I got to thank her for the great advice.
CD: If you could take over a role on Broadway in a musical production which one might interest you?
MC: Honestly, I don’t know. I think our primary focus has to be on getting Broadway back up and running safely. My heart breaks for everyone both on and off the stage, all the theatre employees, the security guards, and everyone else who works in theatre, who can’t go back to their jobs. I hope that all these people can return to the jobs they had before the pandemic.
CD: What is a role in a play that you might like to portray on Broadway in a straight play?
MC: If I had to choose one role, it would be Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. This play has such a powerful message, especially with everything going on in the world today, and I would love to be a part of telling this important story.
CD: What have you been doing during the COVID-19 sheltering in?
MC: I have been staying at home with family. We didn’t go out. Now that some of the restrictions are being lifted, my family and I are practicing social distancing, and limiting our gatherings to small groups. We wear masks in public and we continue to follow the restrictions.