Behind the scenes of My Brilliant Friend

At the age of 19, Francesca Montuori found herself starring in "My Brilliant Friend–Season 3: Those who leave and those who stay". She spoke to Segmento about her experiences on set and her most memorable moments.

The series, based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling book by the same name, begins in the post-war period in the poor Luzzatti district of Naples. Now one of the most acclaimed Italian television series, it portrays a long and complex relationship of friendship and conflict between two women–Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo. Ranging from obsession to jealousy and spite, this intimate portrait of the lives and loves of these two characters plays out against the backdrop of momentous social and political upheaval as Italy transforms from a poor and backward nation ravaged by war into an economic powerhouse, though leaving many behind. Francesca Montuori plays the character Elisa Greco, the younger sister of the main character Elena.

When did you know you wanted to be an actress?

I was eight years old when I stepped on a stage for the first time. I immediately realized I belonged, and all my shyness that dominated in those days suddenly disappeared. I don’t think there’s a specific reason why. I guess I was destined to be an actress, but also, I have a natural predisposition for performing in front of a camera.

Francesca Montuori plays Elisa Greco in Season 3 of My Brilliant Friend. Source: Fremantle, The Apartment

Can you tell us about your experience on the film set of My Brilliant Friend and what you did to better prepare for the role of Elisa Greco?

I watched My Brilliant Friend as a spectator. I was struck by the depth of the writing and, above all, its truthfulness. When I found out I was going to play Elisa Greco, I prepared as much as possible with the acting coaches and Daniele Luchetti, our director. I tried to leave room for all the feelings flooding me during those intense weeks of rehearsals with the other actors. I understood and learned that only by dragging myself into the emotions and then emptying myself of them could I really understand the character I had to play.

You started acting in a series, now in its third season, with a cast of actors who already knew each other and had worked together before. What was your first day of filming like? What did you feel?

The first day I heard “action” was unforgettable! I still remember the crew and the amazing people who worked tirelessly alongside us. We had to shoot a beautiful scene where the two Greco sisters, Elisa and Elena, meet each other after being apart for more than five years. The scene where Elena gives the earrings to my character was magical. I can still feel the adrenaline of that moment.

Francesca Montuori. Photo Petricciuoli & Mocerino

How did your co-stars receive you? Did you form any special friendships?

I tiptoed in, but they were great! They welcomed me with so much love, and I really bonded with everyone.

What do you like and dislike about your character?

I love her enchanting gaze and how she takes life into her own hands despite everyone. Although Elisa made a harmful and risky choice, I am glad that a young woman in the 70s still had the power to make choices for her life, which is not something taken for granted.

Francesca Montuori in My Brilliant Friend. Source: Wildside, Fandango, Rai Fiction, HBO

What was the most difficult thing for you working on this series?

There was no real difficulty. The film director was always ready to help me if I had any doubts or uncertainties. When I debuted, I was a little scared, which is fair. I was anxious about how the audience would react.

Do you have any funny stories about the shoot?

It was fun when we were filming the lunch scene. We ate together for a week between ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock to practice for the scene. It was fun; we laughed a lot and created crucial bonds that made the scene successful.

It is unclear whether Francesca will play Elisa again in the fourth and final season. What we do know for sure is that we will soon see Francesca in a short film about Naples based on Massimo Piccolo’s book Layla.