Drea de Matteo: “I Am So Madly In Love With My Children”

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We loved watching Drea de Matteo light up the screen in The SopranosDesperate Housewives, and Sons of Anarchy. The mom of two will star as detective Diane Harkin in the Lifetime Original Movie Stalkers.

Drea opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about what drew her to the role of a detective on the run from a violent ex-husband and how her son, Waylon, 2, and daughter, Alabama, 5, shaped how she portrayed her character. She also shares her hopes for a Sopranos movie and discusses her son’s hilarious obsession with PSY’s “Gangnam Style.”

On what drew her to the role of a detective protecting herself and her son from a violent ex-husband:

DDM: “Aside from the fact that I need to work right now because I’ve been making babies for so long [laughs], it was the first decent part that came by. There haven’t been that many great roles out there lately. First of all, I’ve never played a cop and always wanted to. I am always sort of the “victim” in my roles. In this film, I get to be a victim and a tough woman at the same time. I also wanted to do a show with more women, because I always do male-strong shows. Even though I was on Desperate Housewives, it wasn’t enough for me. It was just a year and they had already been doing their thing for so long. I guess that was it: it was a great script and it really appealed to me.”

On how her own children and family life shaped how she portrayed her character:

DDM: “Oh my gosh, my life has changed so much since I’ve had babies. At this point, I don’t even have to think about anything to get upset on-film. All I have to do is see an image of something harmful happening to my children in my head and I can’t even go there. I can’t even act as much as I used to because I can’t imagine the things I used to imagine. I am so madly in love with my children and they affect everything I do and any role I play. I have been playing a mom since I was in my twenties. On Joey I played a mom to a twenty-three-year-old guy, and I never knew what it was like to have a child even though I have been playing “mother” roles for a long time. Now I know what it’s like to be a mom and I can really play the part.”

On whether being a mom in real life affected how she played the role:

DDM: “Yes, for me it does anyway.”

On whether there is room for her family when she’s working on a film like Stalkers, or if it all consuming:

DDM: “The first time I was away from my children was when I had to make Stalkers. My daughter was in a California school and we had to shoot in Vancouver during the middle of the winter. I traveled back and forth and came home every weekend to be with my kids. That part of it was awful, but luckily the experience of making the film was so great that it definitely helped overshadow how painful it was for me to leave my kids.”

On how she balances her professional commitments with family life:

DDM: “I don’t work that much, which is how I have been able to take care of my children the way that I do. It is time for me to start working again, and I need to have my kids go with me. I won’t do what I did when I shot Stalkers. The kids have to go with me wherever I go, and that’s it. I can’t be without my children, as they are my number one priority.”

On whether she thinks women and moms really can have it all or if she thinks that it’s not attainable:

DDM: “I think that we can, we just have to work harder than any man has ever worked in his entire life.” 

On her favorite things to do with her family:

DDM: “We like to go to places like the Renaissance Fair, we watch live music, and we love sitting in bed at night and watching Classical Baby or the HBO series Good Night Moon. We like simple things, such as going to the park and walking down the street holding hands with my baby and boyfriend.”

On whether there was anything about the role that she added that wasn’t originally scripted for her:

DDM: “Well, I was originally for a Spanish character, so I made it Italian. [Laughs] I didn’t really add anything to the role, as Diane was much of a character as she was. She is not really refined, but she is a street-smart, tough, and bad-tempered hothead who is very protective of her own. She is brave and courageous, and at the same time has a dark past. The character was pretty fleshed out and I didn’t really need to add anything.”

On what she found challenging about the role:

DDM: “I don’t necessarily look for roles that are challenging, as it is not really my thing. I am not looking to stretch my talent anywhere. I like to do what I’m good at and I like to do what feels comfortable and speaks to me. I like language that is familiar for me. I think when I was younger I wanted to break away from things that I had already done, like The Sopranos. The Sopranos was a bigger challenge for me because it was so opposite from who I am. I mastered speaking in that accent and being that kind of girl. I like to stick to characters that are close to home, who are homegrown and “rootsy.” I like to stick to people that I’m familiar with.”

On whether playing Diane made her scared about her children’s future or helped empower her to take control of that kind of situation:

DDM: “Unfortunately, with the stalker situation, there isn’t much you can tell a kid on how to avoid a stalker. A kid will never even understand it. Instead, it’s about us protecting them. Honestly, you are mentioning this whole scenario to me for the first time; I had never even thought about the possibility of my children getting stalked. As a person who has been stalked before, I had thought about me getting stalked and my children being caught in that crossfire, where they are used as a weapon to get through to me. However, I never thought about them being stalked because they are so little right now. I don’t know what I would do if something like that ever happened. I don’t even know if I have the strength to figure stuff out like Diane can. As far as teaching my kids to protect themselves from other things, playing a role like this definitely reminds me that there are a lot of crazy f***ing people in this world. There really are. Even when I go to the playground with my kids, I can’t leave one for the other and I feel like a psychopath in that playground, running around trying to man both children.

When I am at work, I am worrying about my lines and making sure I’m doing the character justice. When I come home, all I want to do is hug on my kids. While we were shooting this, that big massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary happened. I was in Vancouver, my children were in California, and my daughter was at school that day. Everyone wanted to talk about what had happened and I had to close down and not listen. I could not hear or know anything about what was going on in the real world because of the pain and fear that set into me and the thought of that happening to one of my children. To think about what those other parents were going through. I couldn’t even go there.”

On how she feels about playing several tough-woman character roles:

DDM: “It reminds me that I’m not just some meek little girl, because sometimes I feel pretty meek. All the characters that I’ve played have been pretty strong, but a lot of them have been major victims who rose out of the ashes and their circumstances. I get called for strong characters the most, but also I get called for broken and nervous characters. Adriana, the character I played on The Sopranos, was nervous, crazy, neurotic, and vulnerable, but a lot of people mistook her as being tough. The character I played on Sons of Anarchy was also a weak victim, but she came back strong. However, there was always the possibility of that character breaking. Those are the kind of characters I am attracted to the most.

This character has a past as well and she’s breakable, but she is on a mission to conquer her fears. She can’t afford to be afraid. She’s protecting other people, her son, and herself. I guess I am always going to play characters that are somewhat strong, because I like roles that are close to who I am.”

On where she got the emotion to play Sons of Anarchy’s Wendy, who took drugs while pregnant with her child:

DDM: “I shot that right after I had my first child. Alabama was only three or four-months-old and sat in my trailer the whole time. My character Wendy was shooting dope while pregnant, and there are two sides to that: A) I would never be caught in a situation where I was abusing drugs. I won’t even smoke or drink while pregnant, even though a lot of people dabble a little bit when they are pregnant. They might have a glass of wine, but that’s not me. I won’t do anything. The other side of it is that I also know enough about addiction due to people that I’ve known in my own life. I have also battled addiction myself and I do have sympathy for it. I don’t have that much sympathy for it because I have been down that road myself and I know that you either get your sh** together or you don’t and you take down people around you. It’s all a choice you make. I understand that a lot of people go through addiction, but at the same time I don’t understand it. I am sort of torn in that aspect. Playing a character like that is such juicy stuff to play. [laughs] I am a pretty complicated b**** myself, and I feel that playing the role of a girl who just goes from A to B and ends up with C probably would bore the sh** out of people anyway. I am not that kind of an actor and I probably wouldn’t be good at playing something like that. If there is no gut to it, you would probably watch me die on-screen.” [laughs]

On what it was like to work with Mena Suvari:

DDM: “She was great! It was fun to see her play such a psycho lady. We didn’t get to work together as much as I got to work with Jodi, so Jodi and I became very close. Mena and I had certain little scenes and we were always at odds with each other, obviously because of the circumstances in the script. Mena is awesome…she is an amazing actress and it was fun to work with her.”

On whether she has ever been stalked like her character Diane:

DDM: “Yes, I have been stalked once during a bad situation, but I am probably not at the liberty to talk about it too much. A lot of people in my industry have been stalked a lot. I think any of the actors in this movie might have similar stories. My experience with being stalked started before I started acting, and gaining a bit of notoriety does not help a situation like that. It only exacerbates it. I also know a lot of women outside of my industry who have also been stalked, and it is a scary place to be. The stalker completely controls you after a while and that’s what the stalker intends to do.”

On whether she took on the role to send a message to other people who have been the victims of stalking:

DDM: “I am not going to lie and say yes to that, because I am not completely gung-ho on speaking out about it. It is a scary thing and I’ve been in that position and it is so easy to be in that position once again. It takes one person and one idea to spark it and boom, they are right back at you. Right now, honestly with what our show is about, the laws that Rhonda Saunders and the people that got involved in all these stalking cases back in those days; the laws that were set in motion to protect the women that were being stalked, are not really in effect fight now. Yes, of course, I would love to send a message to anyone who is being stalked to not live in fear and to get help. The problem is that there isn’t always appropriate help for it, because it sort of gets pushed under the rug.”

On how it feels to play Diane, a character that is really empowered:

DDM: “I really wanted to play a part where I got to be completely empowered.  However, every character I always play finds a way of being a victim. Diane has also been a victim, which got her to a place where she had to empower herself. She is still scared throughout the course of the show, until the end when she decides to take her life back. Diane also falls victim to the stalker. Yes, it is nice to play a character that is completely in control of her, because Adriana was not, Wendy from Sons of Anarchy was not, and my character on Desperate Housewives was not. They were all running from something and were all scared.”

On whether she is more selective about the roles she chooses now that she is a mom: 

DDM: “I just don’t work that much, that’s really what it comes down to. I’ve just been hibernating with my children. Now that I’ve decided to come back to work, I just didn’t find much that interested me. The roles that I was having to beg for were not even roles that I ever even wanted to play. This role came along and I didn’t have to beg or do anything, and it was a character that had some power and something to say. A lot of the characters that were coming my way were weightless, so I felt very happy and grateful that this landed in my lap.”

On whether she will be back on Sons of Anarchy next season:

DDM: “Ever since the last season I have been so swamped with my kids, but I think they left it where I need to come back, but I am not really sure. I would love to be back, because it is my favorite show right now. I like where my character was going, because it reminded me of the path Adriana in The Sopranos had gone down. Wendy had redeemed herself then became victim to these guys, just the way Adriana was with these men who wouldn’t even see what was really going on.”

On whether her pregnant former co-star Jamie Lynn Sigler has called her for any advice:

DDM: “I didn’t even know she was pregnant! That is the first that I have heard about it. I have been so out of touch with the world around me. I haven’t spoken to her, but that makes me really happy to hear that.”

On the best parenting advice she ever received:

DDM: “No one ever really gave me advice on parenting.  I feel like I was the one giving all my friends advice because I was the first one to have a baby. With regard to my best parenting tip, it goes two ways. I feel like my daughter is my teacher, to a certain degree, and I let her guide me. On the other side, I am here to guide her and I am going to catch her every time she falls. I think the best thing to do with kids is let them feel all their feelings and help them express themselves. I see where my daughter is and she is an amazing artist, and luckily she has that outlet to express herself through. Otherwise, a lot of little kids’ emotions get bottled up all the time and that makes for crazy adults. I guess my advice is to really just be a guide.”

On whether she wants to do a Sopranos movie:

DDM: “I would love to do a Sopranos movie. I still would. You never know…I would be right there like, “Yes, I’ll do it!” [laughs]

On how she celebrated her son Waylon’s second birthday: 

DDM: “Unfortunately, my dad just passed away a couple weeks ago. We weren’t up for anything crazy. We are up here in New York and we are normally in California, where all his little friends are. We normally would have a party, but we basically had a play date with his little friend here in New York. We played and then had a big dinner with my family and friends for him and his little buddy. We ate at a Chinese restaurant called Chin-Chin in Manhattan. We had a room at the restaurant and filled it with balloons.  His daddy came to town and gave him tons of presents. He didn’t really know it was his birthday. When my daughter turned two, forget about it. We had a bash because she knew she was turning two and that it was her birthday. My son doesn’t get it yet. For three, we are going all out!

We call Waylon “Black Jack,” because his daddy, Shooter, was also “Waylon” and Shooter’s father was “Waylon”. Shooter’s father started calling Shooter “Shooter” and we started calling Waylon “Black Jack.” Black Jack’s birthday cake was Simba, PSY, and Sunglasses. He is obsessed with PSY from the song “Gangnam Style.” He watches PSY on his iPad all day long. PSY got a billion hits, and it’s not from a billion people…it’s from my son, and I’m not even kidding you. [laughs] His obsession with “Gangnam Style” is out of control. He sings it, does the dance, runs around the house, and screams it if it is not playing. He’ll go, “Gangnam Style! Gangnam Style!” while wearing sunglasses. [laughs] He wears sunglasses all day long. He wears those big Elton John sunglasses…he likes really flashy sunglasses.”

Tune into Lifetime on Saturday, April 13th at 8 p.m. ET/PT to watch the premiere of Stalkers.

Filed under: Drea de Matteo,Exclusives,Jamie-Lynn Sigler

6 Comments »»

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  1. Dana

    I like her honesty. It’s refreshing.

    Reply
  2. Tony

    Hot Italian mama!

    Reply
  3. Tony

    Hot Italian Mama.

    Reply
  4. Kristina

    She looks like Rebecca Gayheart in this picture :)

    Reply
  5. echo nicoletti

    beautiful woman, lovely actress and a pleasure to watch no matter what she’s in. Seems refreshingly real as a person. Loved The Sopranos and The Sons of Anarchy. She has a face that lends itself to the complexity required for good characterisation. Also used to shop at Filth Mart NY. Damn!!! it was a favourite shop when I was over from London and I still miss it.

    Reply
  6. Giancristofori,Daniel

    She should have married an Italian and stayed in N.Y.

    Reply

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