An interview with Tilda Del Toro
Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, we sit down with Actress, Producer, Writer Tilda Del Toro. Tilda began acting and modeling at a young age. She performed in multiple shows directed by Del Close, including ‘A Strange Short Trip‘, and co-created the first all-Latino improvisation troupe, ‘Salsation’. She trained professionally at the University of Chicago with the Moscow Art Theatre, The Second City, The Annoyance Theatre, and Improv Olympic, Chicago. In our interview we discuss her time in multiple Latino Television shows, her roles in several comedies including Sandra Bullock’s Warner Bros. comedy-drama ‘Our Brand Is Crisis‘, Malcolm D. Lee Universal Pictures comedy ‘Night School‘ opposite Kevin Hart, her role of Mona Lisa, opposite Tom Hardy in Vertical Entertainment crime-drama Capone, her latest Del Toro Entertainment drama project ‘Julia‘, her training with mentor James Caan and more.
1. Can we discuss some of the multiple Latino television shows where you guest starred? Please describe the experience.
When I first started as an actress, Spanish TV was so awesome. Many local and national channels have so much content, and speaking Spanish helped. I enjoyed it very much. At the time, it helped with my experience. My mother would have loved me to continue onto Telenovelas as a Spanish Soap Opera Star…LOL….Since she loves watching them, however, I did not.
2. You worked in several comedies, including Sandra Bullock’s ‘Our Brand is Crisis’ and ‘Night School’ opposite Kevin Hart and a biopic opposite Tom Hardy. How do you typically prepare for your roles?
Each role is different. Working in comedy, I am way more prepared to improvise and work outside of the box in terms of grabbing a moment in comedy if it comes up. With CAPONE, I prepared in many ways…didn’t know how to speak Italian, so I worked with actress and language coach Silvia Baldassini learning the language and fine-tuning Mona Lisa’s Italian dialect. Worked with the pitch of voice with voice teacher Bonnie LaVallo to make sure Mona Lisa’s tone was projected with strong, deeper resonance. I explored Mona’s physicality with movement coach Kristi Slager Salerno.
I rehearsed the actual scenes and all the possible approaches with acting coach Matthew Scott Snyder at James Franco’s Studio 4. Matthew was instrumental in my work just prior (about two years) of working on CAPONE. After that, I had discussions with the director to help bring his vision of her to the forefront. That helped seal how to bring Mona Lisa to the film.
3, Any fun behind-the-scenes stories from Capone?
My main scene with Tom Hardy required me to slap him and actually physically push him almost across the room. Onset, a run-through is routinely done before a scene is shot so that all departments can look at their work and change anything, etc. I slapped Tom, pushed him across the room, did the scene, and then as soon as the director called cut, the whole crew, including Tom, burst out into laughter. Josh Trank, the director yelled, “Don’t mess with Matilda.” Tom Hardy was ok with me really slapping him, and in one moment, looked at me and said, “Hey, why lie?” He said that if I felt I wanted to do it, he was ok with it. Also, he asked me if I needed anything from him. Tom is a very caring, thoughtful person who truly cares about the work and his scene partner.
4. What was it like to play the mysterious ex-lover of Al Capone?
It was a really interesting role where I got to work with amazing people on and off the camera. Playing a character that is tied into Al Capone is also very apropos because my hometown is Chicago. Capone is known to have had lovers, and my character is based on that. Being in that period and playing her was surreal in some ways. It’s stepping into another person, and you forget about who you are entirely. And that’s the way I like it as an actress.
5. You have a new project, ‘Julia’. What was it like writing this project? Do you have any tips about writing?
Writing Julia just poured out of me. It was a great process in terms of not worrying so much about precisely what I was doing. I work better when I can be free and not worry about structures in the beginning and then hone things down as I move forward. For advice about writing, I would say that it is better to have too much content than not enough. So, write and just keep writing and then go back and review. If you don’t know what to write. Write. ‘I don’t know what to write. “and see where that leads you. You always have thoughts, even if your thoughts are…” I don’t know what to do.” Also, start with things you know, and when writing about what you don’t know, ask for help. Interview, question, and find out personal stories to help you understand.
6. During your training, your mentors included James Caan. What sort of advice or information did you receive from him?
Jimmy was very straight forward, and he was also so kind. He wanted us to be the best we could. He told us never to settle with our abilities as actors. I was very fortunate to have learned from him. One day I was working on a scene in which I was leaving my groom to tell him I was not going to marry him on our wedding day. I did the scene and walked out of the room and closed the door at the end of the scene.
Jimmy said,” Now, I want you to do the ending again, and when you leave, I want you to open the door to leave, but before you leave, I want you to look back at him, have a thought(s) and then leave. So, I did it and honestly did not think much of it other than adding more texture to the scene.
Later, I watched Chris Pine in Wonder Woman. When he leaves her in one scene, he is about to leave and does the exact same thing. Before he leaves, he looks back at her. At that moment, I realized that what Jimmy was teaching me was way beyond what I understood at the time.
Film is full of intimates that are caught by the camera. The camera essentially reads your mind and records it on screen. He was teaching me two things. 1) How to work in the medium of film. 2) Choices that film actors and lead actors who understand the medium make, and that is what he knew so well. He taught me about that. It was invaluable.
7. Can you tell us about your background in modern dance?
When I was in high school, I attended an extracurricular class at the Art Institute of Chicago. I was really lucky to be involved in a program where I got to get out of school early and go downtown once a week. Being downtown so much, I would walk around, and Columbia College is near the Art Institute. There were many opportunities to see Modern Dance shows. I was very attracted to it…thought it might be too late to be a dancer, but I studied it anyway…quickly started to be more attracted to acting, but I still consider myself a very physical person. Movement is so important to me and the expression of movement has played a vital part in my health and art.