Sizzling is not a word you would normally associate with a show about a young woman who finds out she has cancer; but this is not your normal show. CHASING LIFE introduces a world where April Carver (Italia Ricci) choses to zealously embrace and pursue her life to the fullest, not letting a little thing like cancer get in her way. After all, life is just too amazing to just give up and die, particularly not when April has just met the man of her dreams.
In a recent exclusive interview, star Richard Brancatisano talked about his fun role as Dominic, the man who sweeps April off her feet, and how much fun it is working on this unexpected new show.
What first drew you to the show?
RICHARD: After I read the script, I fell in love with it straight away. I love scripts that are based in our time, and in this day and age, it’s stuff that’s really relevant. What I loved about the script was how relevant it was to everyday things that people go through in their lives. That was the first thing, apart from the fact that it’s really funny and very witty. I just couldn’t put it down. That’s what the best indicator is, when you read a script really quickly and you’re wanting to see what’s on the next page, and you put it down and you’re really excited. You listen to that feeling. That’s always a good sign.
Like a gut instinct: “This is it. This is the role I really want.”
RICHARD: You go through a lot of roles and sometimes you read scripts and you go, “Oh, it’s not that bad” or you might not connect with it. But this is definitely a script and a role that once I read the script and I read my scenes and I read about the character Dominic, and I thought, “This is it. This is the role I want.”
What about Dominic drew you to this role? You mentioned something about being funny and witty. Do you thing he embodies those qualities?
RICHARD: Yeah, his humor is pretty dry. He is witty and he is similar to me in age and similar interests. He works in arts and entertainment, and he’s also in the same stage of his life in terms of relationships — what he’s been through in the past and what he’s looking for now in terms of a relationship, looking for the right type of girl to really give a lot of love to and settle down with. I could definitely relate. I’m in my 30’s and really wanting to find that person and make it work with that person.
Do you see Dominic as a player or is he actually looking for his soul-mate?
RICHARD: Obviously, he’s been a player and a ladies-man for the last ten years of his life, and there’s always going to be a residue of that. It’s going to be hard to change. But I think deep down he’s probably getting to that stage where is looking for something different. But just because you want something in your life, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get it. You’ve still got little habits that will inform the way you are acting and you want to act differently. So I think that’s the struggle for Dominic. He’s getting to the point where he knows that there’s something more and he wants it. But it’s a struggle because he acted in a certain way in his past and that can catch up with you.
He catches the eye of April right away and they seem to really spark. So what does Dominic see in April?
RICHARD: I think he sees in April someone who is driven and very ambitious and I think he loves her humor. What they have at work is this great banter and they don’t know whether they are flirting or whether they are just joking around, and I think that’s really cool. I think he likes someone like that, someone who can play around and have a good time and not take things too seriously. But I also think he’s attracted to her spirit and her energy and her spark, and that really shows itself once you get to where she gets her cancer diagnosis. She is someone who will fight and wants to live. I think he saw that in her all along. That spark in her, that fire, that enjoyment of life that she finds everyday.
It seemed like he was also curious. Like he couldn’t fit her into a box and he’s intrigued by her.
RICHARD: I don’t think they know each other that much. But these are things that I think they pick up on about each other, but don’t yet really know. So they may not consciously process them. But in terms of like when you want to go talk to someone: Who you are attracted to in the office? Who do you go up to and make jokes with? Who do you get along with? It’s interesting what drives that on a subconscious level. But I think he is really curious about her. But I think it’s more than just lust with April. It’s more than him going, “She’s a hot chick.” Dominic’s not looking at her as just another girl to have a good time with. I think he sees something more in her right from the start.
Dominic also seems like a rule-breaker. He is willing to try to pursue a relationship with April even though they are co-workers and they know that may be frowned upon. Do you see Dominic as someone who doesn’t care what the rules are?
RICHARD: I think he’s the kind of guy who lives a little by his own moral compass and probably will listen to his own instinct before he listens to others about the situation or how he should act in a situation. I think most people in that situation where there’s someone they’ve got their eye on, whether it’s at work or wherever, I think most people — well, I know I would if it was someone I really liked and it might be in the work place or something, then I would probably pursue it and try and make it work. It’s a “cross that bridge when I get to it” sort of thing. Because what’s the most important thing: work or finding someone you love?
Love wins every time.
RICHARD: (Laughs) Exactly!
What do you think is the best thing about this potential relationship between April and Dominic? What is going to draw the audience into it?
RICHARD: I think two people who have that strong connection and they know there’s a connection there but circumstances make it hard for them to be together, I think that’s the thing that makes their relationship interesting. Dominic and April really suit each other and I think they make each other better people. But there’s so many circumstances, as you find out through the episodes, that really make it difficult for this relationship to blossom. It’s either going to ruin the relationship or it’s going to make it really strong. It’s really ambiguous. You don’t know which way it’s going to go.
Is there a certain point where Dominic starts to suspect there’s more really going on with April?
RICHARD: Yeah, in the pilot episode because he doesn’t know and he gets a sense that he’s not hearing the whole truth. There’s something more and it feels like April is hiding something from him and that is not a nice feeling when you’re in a relationship. Poor Dominic doesn’t know what is her secret and why she’s hiding it. The great thing is we see why April’s hiding it and how she’s trying to navigate her recent diagnosis. So we feel for her and we also feel for Dominic because he doesn’t know what’s going on and he doesn’t know the depth of what April is going through. I think it’s scary for both of them.
Do you think she should be telling him right away that she has a serious health issue?
RICHARD: That’s a really hard question and I think it’s not so much about whether she should tell him straight away or not, but it is how he views her when she does end up telling him. It’s like in life, you make choices and I think the choice she made, she was making the best choice she could based on everything that was going on in her life. So it’s hard to say whether she should or not. But that doesn’t stop Dominic from having a reaction toward her choice, whether he is going to be able to live with it and what that means for their relationship. Also he has a past where he’s been lied to, so he needs to forgive and he needs to learn how to have some compassion — to be able to step into other people’s shoes and see that it is not an attack on him. That it’s not a personal thing. It’s just an understanding where the other person is coming from and working through that initial reaction and really looking into someone’s circumstances and trying to find out why they did what they did.
Do you think that is part of Dominic’s journey for this season: learning to trust people?
RICHARD: Absolutely. I think that is a big part for Dominic, learning to trust people and more than just trusting, but learning to understand people might not be honest and their reasons for not telling the truth right away.
Dominic is a fascinating character. You want to perceive him in one way, but the more you spend time with the character you start to see the depth to him.
RICHARD: He is very well-written.
Most of your scenes are with Italia [Ricci] on the show. What was it like working with her?
RICHARD: The show is fantastic. It’s a really relaxed working environment and everyone’s got a great vibe and energy. The whole team is fantastic from the producers through the whole team. It always starts with great leaders. Then the cast, I really feel blessed to work with them every day. Italia is amazing. I learn from her everyday that we work together and I always look forward to getting on set and working. The content of the show is really important and that makes it really easy to want to learn about these characters and to do them justice and tell their stories ’cause it is an important story to tell. And acting is always a blast. It’s really fun for me.
Do we get to see any scenes where you work with Aisha [Dee]?
RICHARD: There are a few. Dominic has a few run ins with her character, Beth. And her being Australian too is pretty cool. But it can be difficult at times because I have to do an American accent and hearing an Australian accent when you’re doing an American accent can be a little off-putting sometimes. So I have to work extra hard when I’m in scenes with Aisha, and I think she tries extra hard to put me off. It’s all good fun, obviously. (Laughs)
This show has a very serious topic, it’s dealing with somebody young who has cancer. But were you able to find fun moments to work with on the show?
RICHARD: Absolutely. Even though the show is about cancer, it really looks at the glass being half full. So it’s really about taking on board your life circumstance and doing the best that you can with it. I think the way the show is written there’s so much humor in it. It’s got witty writing and all the characters go through great experiences on the show, which is always really fun to shoot. And I think it’s a good mix. It’s not just a light show, or heavy show, or funny show, or sad show. It’s always a fun day on set whether you’re getting to explore the character’s emotional journey or whether you’re exploring the other side of it. It’s a great mix.
What would you like to tease that fans should look forward to during the first season?
RICHARD: Fans can look forward to a lot of surprises and a lot of sticky situations that they may find themselves in, and that makes it interesting to watch as these characters navigate their way through them and just do the best they can.
To see how the charming romance plays out with Dominic and April, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of CHASING LIFE on Tuesday nights, starting June 10th at 9:00 p.m. on ABC Family Channel.