Maddalena Ischiale2
Interview: Robert Piper

Robert Piper: What inspires you in life?

Maddalena Ischiale: My nieces. I have three wonderful nieces, and they’re totally the true inspiration of my life. They are in Italy, and I’m here in Los Angeles, working hard for them, for my sister, and being separated from them. They’re little, so they’re growing up. You feel like you’re kind of missing so much. Thank God there is Skype so I can see them.

My little niece Emma, she has Down Syndrome, so she had a lot of problems when she was born, and she’s definitely the hero of my life. She’s so strong and powerful, and her will, you know, will to survive, will to—she needs a lot of courage and a lot of strength to do the most normal things. Babies have more difficulty even though they’re so special in so many different ways. She’s my hero.

RP: That’s great.

MI: Also, you know, I used her a lot for the movie [Unbroken] as an inspiration to find my relationship with my son, with Louie.

RP: You have a pretty fascinating role in Unbroken. Can you explain how you got the role?

MI: That was quite a miracle. Basically what happened is, a very good friend of mine sends me an e-mail and says, “Oh, look. There is this breakdown, and they’re looking for an Italian actress.” I looked at the story. I looked at the character. She was a playful beauty, a loving Italian mother. The mother of Louis Zamperini.

I felt so connected immediately with the story. The story of surviving and resilience and never giving up connects a lot with my personal life. And they were immigrants, so of course, it’s like a big chance for me to use my language and to use the fact that I’m Italian. I decided to call even though, on the breakdown, they said, “No phone calls.” I called and found a great assistant. She talked a little bit with me. I made her laugh, and she gave me the e-mail address, so I sent pictures and a little reel where I was playing an Italian mother.

They called me right away. And they sent me all of the four major scenes in the movie. I just had the night to learn the scene and make my choices, but thank God. The next day, I went there and I did my audition, and basically, that was it, because they chose me just from one take. So it’s quite a very inspiring story because I didn’t have an agent. I believe [it was] in line with what this movie is about. You know, “Never give up, and finish the race in strong faith.”

Maddalena Ischiale, an actor and producer, can be seen in Unbroken, which was produced and directed by Angelina Jolie.

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PHOTO: KEITH MUNYAN

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