An interview with Aleksa Palladino

If Aleksa Palladino looks familiar to you, it’s because she’s been in several great films. At age 14, she starred alongside Scarlett Johannson in Manny & Lo. From there, she moved on to star in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Her classic look and ability to make you forget anything but what her character is giving you make Aleksa an unforgettable actress, one that you’ll recognize in any role for she makes them her own.

As Angela Darmondy in the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Palladino plays Jimmy Darmondy’s (Michael Pitt) common-law-wife, who has been acting as a single mother while he was away at war. She is raising their toddler Tommy with the monetary support of politician Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who takes care of Jimmy as a favor to Jimmy’s mother, Jillian (Gretchen Mol).

But while Jimmy was away at war, Angela has grown into herself, finding she’s interested in being an artist (a painter, specifically) and also that she has feelings for a woman. When Jimmy comes back to Atlantic City, he wants to pick up where things left off, but it’s a completely different time now. Even though only two years have passed, the prohibition has everyone looking for ways to find alcohol and ways to sell it — which is how Jimmy and Nucky start doing business together. Angela, meanwhile, continues to see her lover, Mary, but becomes concerned that Jimmy is going to find her out.

WIth the season half over, but picked up for another next year, we checked in with Aleksa to find out how the role of Angela came to be more than just a housewife and what’s in store for her relationship with Mary.

AfterEllen: How did you come into the role of Angela?
Aleksa Palladino:
I auditioned for it. There was very little information on her at that point — I mean nothing. She wasn’t even an artist or anything yet. That all came together, I think, once they had their cast in place.

AE: With Lisa Joyce, who played Mary, you didn’t really have too much interaction with her onscreen until really the first time you see them together in bed. Was it strange to not really have any screentime with her and then you’re thrust into this sexual situation?
AP:
Yeah, I mean, it was the first time I’d met her at all, because the other scene she’s in — episode 3, I think — I’m not in that scene. So I met her probably a week prior to the bedroom scene. We had a lot of the same concerns, which was just that we wanted it to come across…we wanted the love to be evident between these two people. We were on the same page with that. It’s funny how fast you get to know someone when you’re going to be in bed with them. [Laughs]

AE: Did you guys spend a lot of time together before that scene off set?
AP:
Well we’d just met, really, that week before. So we spent some time together and we also had a chance to sit down with the director of that episode, Allen Coulter, to get a vibe and understand what he was looking for. It was his intention as well just to make it this beautiful, moving scene and obviously have the sexuality present as well.

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