Francesca De Luca says when she stands in front of camera, every fiber of her being comes to life. She’s driven by the challenge of bringing to life a character from page. For her, the creative process is a journey unlike any other and one she relishes. The world needs actors and storyteller now more than ever.
For Francesca “Frankie,” the craft of acting is about transforming the viewer into a different world, allowing them to escape and have relief from real life, to explore elements of their being they may not have otherwise done.
Born in London England of Italian descent, Francesca moved to Los Angeles six years ago to pursue her acting career. This move came after a successful UK theater and international film career,
Francesca was actually discovered by the iconic Oscar winning director Francis Ford Coppola (yeah that FFC) who personally auditioned her amongst hundreds of actors for his innovative film project Distant Vision a ‘Live Cinema’ production.
Wow, and we get to like talk to her here at the Reel! I sat down with Frankie to talk about her background, moving here and such award-winning international projects including Passports, Jeremiah Tower The Last Magnificent and Down and Out.
Okay, Francesca, you also call yourself Frankie? Were you a fan of the 80s group Frankie Goes to Hollywood? If so can you sing Relax?
Ha ha! You’re not the first person to mention this! I wouldn’t necessarily say I was a ‘fan’ though that song does makes me smile. You know… I’m not sure you’d like to hear me singing Relax , it’s not exactly the right key for me.(That’s my British sarcasm in case you didn’t realize.)
We love Brit sarcasm here at Reel. So, uh being a Brit, do you prefer American comedy or British comedy? Or both?
Both! Growing up in England, I watched a lot of great British comedy! Too many shows and movies to mention! I could discuss this for hours! Some of my favorites were Monty Python like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Michael Palin, John Cleese. A Fish Called Wanda, Borat. I loved Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G show. Sketch comedy like Little Britain, The Fast Show.
I was a fan of The Office, however I’ve got to say the American version was my favorite! Steve Carrell!
I love The Forty-Year-Old Virgin. I love Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Catherine Keener, Seth Rogen. Oh and Superbad! Great movie. I’m a fan of South Park. I love how dark the humor can go. And it goes dark.
Seinfeld is probably my favorite TV show! I can watch the episodes over and over. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an inspiration! Jason Alexander so talented, amazing timing. I’m into Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. SNL I love.
The Big Lebowski, Airplane, Deadpool. Pulp Fiction. Throwing some more fun movies out there! Have you noticed I like to laugh. The comedy I like is VERY wide.
We have noticed your laugh. It’s quite jolly. Bad British humor there. Who are your favorite American comedians and your British comedians who inspire you?
Too numerous. I’ve already mentioned a few! Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Robin Williams. Eddie Murphy. Ted Danson. Kristen Bell. I so loved The Good Place. Catherine O Hara. Tina Fey.
Where does the “Francesca” brand of comedy originate from?
I believe I have a very well developed sense of humor! I can see the funny side of many things! It can go from slapstick to really dark and then really subtle where you might miss it if you’re not careful. I find that humor has helped me cope with life. I remember I used to make my sister laugh when we went to church and were supposed to be serious!
My mum and uncle always had a great sense of humor and I noticed growing up that it was important to not take yourself too seriously, to laugh at yourself or the craziness of any situation. I think understanding life and people, all sides increases the capacity to laugh at something. I was very much an observer of people as I grew up.
I also enjoy it when we are watching something moving and maybe even crying and then the next moment we are laughing, that’s difficult to achieve but it’s so powerful when it happens. I live acting in drama as well as comedy so that type of script is like gold when you find it.
When I act in comedy I don’t have any fear in ‘going there’ if you know what I mean! I don’t hold myself back. I enjoy that. When an acting teacher in London told me, “you could make a million out of comedy” I remember it sinking in and realizing yep I think I am funny! It’s good I’m not the only one that thinks that! Don’t get get me wrong I like to cry too. Perfectly capable of crying.
Where did you grow up in England and why did you come to LA?
I grew up in London. My great grandparents came from Italy and settled in London.
I came to LA six and a half years ago to act! To pursue my acting career. The year before I visited my cousins in New York and stayed a few months, did some acting classes that my cousin recommended. Which I loved. I love the city, the vibrancy, the energy. I met a couple of directors who says they would love to work with me and me them. It was clear what my path would be.I just knew.
I made my decision to get the visa and then go to LA as I knew that that was the hub for TV and film.
I went back to London to start the process and five months later flew to LA. An LA agent says she loved my work and reel and said she would love to sponsor me! It all fell into place.
In London I had often been cast as Americans especially New Yorkers or Italian Americans.That was a role I was naturally right for. Casting wise I was more suited to being American than British ironically enough. I was excited by the opportunities.
What was it like to work for Francis Ford Coppola?
It was a dream come true. I saw that Coppola was looking for actors of Italian descent who had both a theatre and film background as he was doing an innovative Live Cinema production. And jumped at the chance! I couldn’t believe it when I got the audition and it was actually the man himself in my audition sitting next to the casting director.
I was so nervous when I saw him there but soon relaxed as he was so warm and genuine.He told me I reminded him of his daughter Sophia which was a real compliment! And I told him he reminded me of my grandfather which I meant in really good way. Nonno was my father figure as my father wasn’t around.
We talked for 15 minutes before I read for him At the end he spoke openly to the casting director said and yes she’s good.I wasn’t able to focus on anything else that day, seemed surreal , couldn’t believe I had been auditioning with someone I had admired my whole life. I had loved The Godfather movies so much since when I was a kid! I got the callback and two days later I had a whole afternoon with Francis and some other actors improvising and reading sides.
Amazing. I was cast! Working with him on set, it felt like I was on the set of The Godfather as all the other actors were also of Italian descent. As this was LIVE Cinema we had to be able to improvise well. Francis knew exactly what he wanted, was firm yet sensitive in directing, had mind blowing attention to detail. He even brought food to set that be made that morning! I could go on..
Aw, Francesca and Francis. Sounds like a movie. You do a walking tour in Hollywood? Besides getting blood circulating from fat tourists, why should someone take the Francesca tour?
Because it’s one of the only forms of entertainment right now! And it’s outside! I only do this when I’m not acting, so take it while it’s hot!
Okay. So “Hit the town with a Hollywood actress” pre-Covid times was one of Airbnb’s most popular Experiences.
Oh, you’re popular. Awww.
Yes! I tell stories about old and new Hollywood, the Hollywood stars, and give some personal stories about being an actress in LA taking people to some iconic places and more unusual hidden places. It’s been fun meeting people from all over the world and The States, some of whom I’m still in touch with.
And yeah, there’s a little hill to climb, so it’s a great butt workout too. What’s not to like? I make it fun! If you get me on a good day I might make you laugh..
When Francesca is reading a script, what gets you going?
I love a well written script! That jumps out straightaway! I can tell after a first page if there is any potential. A character that has an arc. Contrasts in a character. A great story.
How many accents can you do, Francesca?
Numerous!! I have a really great ear for accents. I’m musical so somehow I just need to attune my ear to an accent and then bam! Ok so French, Italian, Russian, cockney-alright mate! Southern Irish, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Texan, ( learnt it for a play I was in, likeI did for a lot of accents!) UK Accents, can go from really ‘posh’ to Northern dialects! …..Middle Eastern… you name it. I’d say about 17.
How did COVID and quarantine affect your world?
Wow. Hugely. I got COVID myself in March last year. Recovered well. It affected the Entertainment Industry so much so it was challenging to get work and it took a while for new rules to be put in place. You know.. I had more to time to think about what my values really are and really get in touch with who I am and what I want for my future.
I miss connecting physically with people, hugging, being hugged. I miss going to an audition in person, I miss going to movies! I miss seeing people’s smiles! On a plus side I feel grateful for my life, the gift of life , more than ever and the people in my life who I cherish.
Life’s too short and this happening is such a wake up call. To all of us. The so called small things really are the big things. We are all learning to live more in the present, I know I am, treasuring every beautiful moment.
On a somber note, we were so sorry to hear about your mother passing away due to complications from COVID. How did your mom inspire you?
Where do I start?! I miss her so much…She encouraged me to be proud of who I am as she was so fiercely proud of me! She encouraged me with my talent in acting, taking me to dance classes and poetry recital classes when I was kid. She said it’s good to stand on a stage, its good for your confidence. Which was true.
She also helped me with schoolwork, she was a school teacher so that gave me an advantage!I learnt that if you work hard, it’s worth it and you can play later! She was there in every play I was in. I could hear her laughing in the audience, ( ( when it was a comedy that is!! 😊) I tried not to let that throw me off! She encouraged me to be strong! That life has knocks but you stand back up again and fight, cry yes , but don’t give up.
My father left when I was two so my mother raised me alone along with my grandfather who was a wonderful father figure to me. I actually took his last name as my stage name “ De Luca” about ten years ago!
My mum taught me unconditional love.
She was proud I was following my dream coming to LA . She was happy I was using my talent although missed me but admired my independence and drive. It was a sacrifice being away from her. She was always asking me “How’s the acting going?
When I told her about auditioning and working with Francis Ford Coppola she was so happy for me, not at all surprised! She always believed in my talent and knew how I loved it. She said -tell him he was right to cast you! And that if he comes to London, he is welcome to come to dinner here anytime! I’m so grateful I had her in my life.
My mum and grandfather will ALWAYS inspire me!!
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Francesca, name three dream directors you would love to work with?
How can I choose three? Come on. That’s not fair.. soooo many ..It’s taking hours to decide..ugh.
Not fair. For sure. Martin Scorsese. Goodfellas and The Departed are amongst my favorite films. David Fincher Noah Baumbach Quentin Tarantino. Stephen Spielberg. Judd Apatow.
Francesca, what’s the best way to unplug from this crazy world – hiking, cooking or punching a reflex bag ?
I love hiking Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park ,walking or riding a bike by the ocean. Dancing – one day with people again! Yes, I like punching a bag how did you know? Watching movies, Netflix ‘n chillin’.
How many tattoos do you have and where?
Zero. They don’t do much for me on my own body though appreciate the art. Don’t think I’d be able to decide on one to have forever. I’d prefer to look at a picture on a wall and then change it up when I feel like it! Now dressing up I love, wearing different costumes!
How do you feel about Brexit finally happening?
Ugh. Is that clear enough?
What’s next for Francesca?
I’ve been chosen to be a Speaker at The Creativity Conference, global conference with about 40 international speakers. “Empowering yourself as an actor and creative in 2021.”
My talk is on 24th January 11am EST/ 2pm PST. I’m also on the Performing Arts Panel discussion ‘Exploring Creative Performing Arts’ 23rd January 11am EST/ 2pm PST.
I just had a ten page article I wrote about this subject published in a new Industry magazine Cut Frame Magazine. A previous article was about ‘Auditioning.’ By speaking on various podcasts etc I had positive feedback and found that I inspire others in the industry. I can pass on tips and strategies to help other actors thrive during this tough time both as a person and creative. I also coach actors on acting and the British accent!
When filming starts rolling, I will be working on several projects , one with a talented writer/ director Annie C. Wright on a comedy called Buds. I’ve worked with her previously on a comedy tv pilot called Down and Out which was successful at festivals. There is a film in development, a sci-fi thriller. I don’t like to talk too much before a project starts, I like to “do” and then talk about it.
I’m an action person you know! Don’t have a need for validation, just validation with myself. I am keen to act on high quality tv so excited to get auditioning when the auditions start up again!
When do you make your Oscar acceptance speech, Francesca?
My aim to be the best actor I be, continuing to work on my craft and myself as a person. I want to feel I’ve done the best work I can and being part of a great team. writer, director, editor, working with other talented and dedicated actors to create something truly magical. I want to inspire, to make people laugh or move them to tears, I want to make powerful films. I want to expose my soul on camera and to do that the right team is also needed.
So, if I’m ever nominated for an Oscar, great! But that’s not the end goal in my mind. I want to respected by my peers yes and have an audience for sure. I don’t care about fame itself though would love to have more choice of great roles to get my teeth into. I’m enjoying this journey called life and acting is on my life path, so bring it on!
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We have a feeling you might be making that speech someday, especially while you’re in Hollywood, Frankie. Follow Francesca here.
Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1