I have already stated previously what I fan I am of ABC Family’s new summer series ‘Chasing Life.’ With the midseason finale creeping up on us quickly, this heartfelt series has just been getting better and better with each episode. I spoke with the star of ‘Chasing Life,’ the wonderful Italia Ricci, earlier today about her challenging role as budding journalist/newly diagnosed cancer patient April.
TVRage: What has been the most challenging scene to shoot so far for ‘Chasing Life’?
Italia Ricci: The most challenging scene occurs in the actual finale, but there is one in the episode next week that I was terrified of shooting because it is so emotionally intense and raw. It scared the crap out of me that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. It is a scene in a chapel. I am nervous! I haven’t seen the final cut of it and I am nervous to see how it is going to turn out. I feel like I am going to cringe! (laughs) It was scary because when you let yourself get to the point where you forget that you are playing a character it starts to actually feel like you are playing out your own death. I start to think, “Oh my god, did I just make a total ass of myself?” I hope it works out! It is really intense and there are a lot of snotty tears (laughs).
TVRage: I felt that the scene in which April tries on the bald cap in last night’s episode was quietly powerful. Was it strange to see yourself that way?
Ricci: Oh, absolutely. The scene wasn’t even written as emotional as it turned out. I chose not to look at it until I took my hands off my eyes, when April did. I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it. I looked in the mirror and had a flood of flashbacks about everything that April has been through, going back to the pilot episode when she had no idea that this was going to be her life. I just felt so bad for her, and that is what made me start tearing up in the scene. There originally were no tears, but it just happened because I felt so terrible for her. I remember saying afterwards, “Sorry, that was way too dramatic, just give me a second and we’re good,” and they were like, “No, that works!”
TVRage: April’s family puts together things for her to take to her hospital room to make it feel more at home. What would you bring with you to put in your room?
Ricci: I would probably bring my iPad with Netflix, a portable Xbox system, some really comfortable pillows and a thousand blankets. Probably also a onesie, actually. I love onesies. I was home last month in Toronto and it was about 85 degrees out and I was walking around in a fleece onesie with a butt flap. My parents thought I was insane.
TVRage: (laughs) I love the ones that also wrap totally around your feet like built in slippers.
Ricci: Oh yeah! (laughs) I go all out.
TVRage: I feel that there are still some unresolved feeling between April and Leo, even with Dominic back in the loop now. Who would you choose for April to be with?
Ricci: Right now, I think it is Leo because he categorically understands what she is going through. She wants it to be Dominic so much because he is the last piece of the life she wanted to have before she got cancer. She looks at Dominic and thinks, “That’s the life that I want,” but Leo understands the life that she has.
TVRage: April is dealing with her battle with cancer so bravely, how do you prepare yourself mentally for such difficult subject matter?
Ricci: My initial instinct was to read every book I could, do all the research in the world and become an expert at her specific type of cancer. Then, as I started reading, I realized that April doesn’t know any of this. She’s not an expert, and that’s not fair. I don’t want to anticipate what she’s going through before she goes through it. I don’t want to know more than she knows because then it would not feel as authentic. April is an average girl, like me, and before this I had very little knowledge about it. As she started learning I learned with her, and when it came to chemo, which is in the next episode, I spoke with doctors and patients. I spoke with nurses and with people who have survived it. My boyfriend’s (Robbie Amell) cousin is the lead of ‘Arrow’ on The CW (Stephen Amell), and his mom has beat breast cancer twice. I was in Vancouver visiting, right before we started shooting this episode, and she sat down with me and we talked for almost two hours. I was just in tears. She was so beautifully honest about how it all physically felt and she is so strong. She gave me such great advice and tips on how to handle it. Not everybody has the same experience with it. I sort of got a “get out of jail free card” in that cancer is different in every situation. Some audience members agree with some of it, and some don’t, but it seems that every decision and reaction that April has had will at least be relatable to one person. That makes me feel that we have done our job okay.
You can watch the mid-season finale of ‘Chasing Life’ next Tuesday at 9 PM on ABC Family. You can follow Italia Ricci on Twitter at @italiaricci.