In The Messengers, several different strangers each have near death experiences and awaken with new powers and new forces driving them together. Sofia Black-D’Elia plays Erin, a single mother with an ex-husband out to get her and keep their daughter. You’ll meet Erin and her daughter in the pilot, and see her gain healing powers that seem downright biblical.
I met Black-D’Elia in January when The CW presented The Messengers to the Television Critics Association. Now it’s premiering on Friday, April 17, 2015 and you can get a hint at what’s coming up for Erin in our exclusive interview.
How did The Messengers come to you?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “They sent me the script during pilot season and I thought originally they wanted me to audition for this smaller role of Alice because she was kind of like a spunky teen, which is what I’ve grown accustomed to reading for myself. And they said, ‘No, they want you to read for the young mom.’ I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ They said yeah and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go in as soon as they want to see me.’ I was so excited by the idea of playing someone A, that was older than me and B, that had such high risks. There’s nothing more challenging I think than playing a mom. Especially when you’re not mom, because who can know what that feels like? I was just really excited that someone let me have that opportunity.”
Has that been a real game changer for you?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “It’s been a game changer for my life because I feel like I’ve grown up a lot and it’s nice to have someone to care about more than yourself. I think as an actor, you can become incredibly selfish. But when you’re playing a mom and it’s just you and this little girl against the world, you suddenly care so much more about her well being. I found that I cared so much for her on set on and off that that was kind of a life changer for me. I like thinking about someone else more than I like thinking about myself, so she was really easy to work with.”
Do the characters come together at a certain point this season?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “They do. The messengers kind of meet up pretty quickly. The story becomes how this group of strangers are going to work together and get along, and move past that and see the bigger picture. The whole thing is a lot bigger than they know.”
Are you going to have to cry every time someone needs healing tears?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: [Laughing] “Luckily I learn how to do it without crying and I can heal with just hands eventually, which is really nice. I think what we learn is that it’s not a specific thing in us that’s helping people. It’s like we’ve changed as human beings, so suddenly now I am a healing property, which obviously is kind of shocking at first. My character definitely doesn’t realize that until a little bit later on.”
As an actor, have you been able to cry on cue before?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “It’s not like a, ‘Hey, cry.’ If the script is good and it makes sense, then you’ll just do it because the character would do it. I’m not particularly good or bad at crying. I think that if you are, maybe you’re in the wrong profession.”
What is it like working with the young actress who plays your daughter, Madison Dellamea?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “The best. I was really worried because I’ve never worked with a child before and I’m a bit of a child, so I thought, ‘God, I’m not going to be responsible enough to handle this.’ But she is so professional and smart without being precocious and kind and thoughtful and inquisitive. I loved working with her more than almost any other actor I’ve worked with in my life.”
Can the wings fly?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “No. We’re not flying. I think they are more metaphorical.”
But they look cool though.
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “They look pretty cool, yeah.”
When did you first see the effect with the wings in the reflection?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “Only recently. When we shot it, it was very hard to not laugh because we were all staring at ourselves in a mirror pretending to see wings and reacting to something that didn’t exist, which is the funny part about sci-fi.”
Your character’s husband is a real problem, isn’t he?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “Yes. Aren’t they all? No.”
I hope not all. I want to be a good husband.
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “Oh, bless you. My dad’s a great dad. I have a lot of great men in my life. This dude is not one of them.”
Your character’s husband is a cop, but apparently he’s not to be trusted.
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “[…]My understanding of Ronnie’s character is that he is in private a pretty horrible person to me, but it seems like most of his aggression is taken out solely on me. So to the world around him, he’s actually an incredible man. He’s a father. He’s a husband. He’s a cop. He is a law-abiding citizen. I don’t think anyone would be suspicious of him doing something wrong except for me. It’s kind of my word against his.”
Do Erin’s new powers even the playing field at all?
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “I think they can and my character’s position, as everyone’s character in the show is, what will you do with it? Is revenge worth it? Is that what makes you a better person? Or should you not?”
Revenge wouldn’t be what an angel would do.
Sofia Black-D’Elia: “That’s true. Revenge would be what a normal person would want, but their struggle through the show is rising above what people expect of them and what we would expect of just an average person on the street.”
– By Fred Topel
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