Chasing Life 1×21 had all the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from the show, plus an extra dollop of drama worthy of a season finale. We chatted with the show’s star, Italia Ricci, about her character April’s continuing health roller coaster, April’s deepening romance with Leo and unresolved relationship with Dominic, the complexity of April’s dynamic with half-sister Natalie and more! Read on for our interview with Italia Ricci.
April has so much going on toward the end of the season in so many different ways: professionally, romantically, with her health, with her family. Does that take a toll on you as an actress, having to physically embody all of that drama?
Italia Ricci: Yeah, it’s good and bad. It feels good when you finish a scene and you’re like, “I literally gave that every drop of effort that I have as a performer and a human being; I am completely drained” because there are some times when you just can’t do that, and you leave and you’re like, “Damn it, I could have pushed a little harder, I could have done a little better.” With the finale, I feel like I was given the time and the freedom to get where I really needed to be and [go] balls to the wall. It was just very, very cathartic because I feel like there was a whole lot that April hadn’t let out and so in turn, when I finish reading a script, I feel like, “God, I wish you would just scream,” you know? And so she got to do that, which I think was so brilliant by the writers.
So the episode with April and Natalie fighting over Dominic aired last week…
Isn’t she just a crazy bitch? No sense of girl code, no sense of any sort of rules, she’s just so entitled and selfish. Sorry, I get really heated about this. Why didn’t April just punch her?! That’s so stupid. No girl in the world would do that. It doesn’t matter if you’re over him or not, you just don’t do that. That’s the rule.
And they’re sisters!
Yeah! That’s the thing you don’t do. It’s just so silly to me. Honestly, maybe I’m just biased because I’m Team April, but [Natalie] and Dominic met sort of organically because she needed a boyfriend for a moment in the bar, fine, but they didn’t actually really start getting into each other until after they found out who one another was. So I feel like once they found out who the other was [and] how bad it would be, that was exciting to be defying the rules and doing something bad because they’re both rebels and promiscuous, so that just made it more appealing to them.
The whole forbidden thing.
Exactly. If they had never had that come into play, I don’t think it would have lasted, so I feel like they’re trying it for the sake of having something to fight for and it’s not necessarily good for each other. Go ahead and quote me on that, but I’m not a writer – they could fall in love and live happily ever after, I don’t know.
April and Natalie’s argument seemed like it was a long time coming because the stuff between Natalie and Dominic had been brewing for a while – what does it mean for their relationship going forward, particularly in light of the fact that Natalie is April’s bone marrow match?
Well, you will find out in season 2 about the match and where that will go or not go, so you’ll see that come out – but also, when you’re diagnosed with something like this, I can’t imagine how much more intense all of the stakes in your life become, so when April gets rediagnosed in the finale, it sort of softens her perspective of Natalie as less of a romantic enemy and more as somebody who might need to step up and be a big sister to Brenna. April, at this time, is actually scared that she’s not gonna make it out. The first time, it was sort of like, “What do I need to do? How am I gonna beat this? Let’s do it!” and the idea of her mortality was never really that real to her. She was always more scared about Leo dying or somebody else dying. It was never really about herself, but I feel like this time around, she’s genuinely scared that it could be her time to go.
That was intense when her doctor said, “If you don’t start chemo immediately, you have two to six weeks.”
Yeah, and, oh my God, the scene when she’s shaving her head, and that song? They picked this woman’s work – I just about fell over. They showed me that clip and I was just like “Oh my God, poor April.”
April is going through a lot, but after she and Leo hit a rough patch over the past few episodes, they seem to be stronger than ever and he’s been helping her through this. Can you talk about how that relationship continues into the final episode?
He’s been through so much with her. Imagine meeting someone for the first time and having to tell them everything you’ve been through the past six months. Like, that’s crazy. He’s been there through all of it, and not only just by her side, he’s been through it himself too, so there’s literally nobody in the story that she could relate with more about what she’s going through. I feel like that just brings whatever they already have to a whole other level. Even if they weren’t romantically involved, that’s just sort of like an extension of a soul mate at that point, once you’ve literally defied death together. I feel like the fact that they just happen to care about each other on a romantic level as well, it just makes it so much sweeter and a little bit like a fairytale.
At the same time you’ve got Dominic, who she’s always going to care about because it was never finished. She never really got to see what it would have been like with him because of everything that happened and the strain that put on them and the secrets and everything, so it’s not like she has any closure with Dominic – it was just over. It never even happened the way it was supposed to, so that’s in the back of her head. And we need a love triangle! So I don’t think Dominic’s going to be going away either.
A lot of people are still Team Dominic, so that’s good to know!
Yeah, people are coming back! It was a very, very overwhelming Team Leo and then all of a sudden, Team Dom coming out of the woodwork! I’m loving this race – it’s so exciting!
Speaking of Dominic, obviously he works with April and April’s job has been a central part of her life throughout the season, but a lot of things have changed for her professionally over that time, particularly in season 1B. What can you tell us about what’s coming up for her professionally and the next professional twist in her life?
Well, you see where work is on her list of priorities come her rediagnosis. [In last week’s episode], you saw her really have to step it up at work and get a taste of what it would be like if she made it to the next level at the Post and became a super-aggressive reporter – how consuming that is and how much she really would need to want that in order to make that dream come true. She sort of comes to terms with the fact that other people might want it more, and that’s all right. At that point she doesn’t know that she’s relapsed, so I think having come to that decision on her own without the weight of cancer looming over her head, I feel like it’s just going to settle a lot more. This time, this happened without any sort of ultimatum, and so when she gets rediagnosed, I think that that makes her decision a little bit easier. It’s still tough because it’s the only dream she’s ever had, but the decision she made will definitely be changing her world for season two.
April has grown a lot as a character over the season. How would you say she’s developed?
I feel like she has accepted the fact that she can’t do it all on her own. I feel like that’s very different from the first episode because you see her go to Natalie and ask for help, and she’s got Leo around, and she’s much more willing to let people in this time around because she knows how much she needs them, whereas she didn’t at the beginning. I also find it’s super interesting that when she gets scared her cancer is back the second time around, the first person she tells this time was the last person she told last time, and that’s Dominic.
The show got renewed for season two a couple of months ago – when do you start working on that, or have you already?
So you shoot in L.A. and then you go to Boston for part of it – is that how it works?
We’re only doing 13 [episodes] this season, so I think after 10 we’ll go to Boston and then shoot all of the scenes between 1 and 13 that take place outside. Then the rest of it, we shoot here in L.A.