Paola Cortellesi: Exasperated parents, let's unite
Paola Cortellesi: Exasperated parents, let's unite


In her latest play she is a mother who tries to free herself in all ways of her terrible boys. Instead, with her little girl, Paola Cortelles indicates that she is obsessively serious. except when she releases tension in the way she does best: with that slightly crazy humor that will also bring anxiety



Smiling despite the freezing cold, diligent as a toy soldier, nice to everyone. The actress Paola Cortellesi posed for the photos you see in these pages, then she put on a jumpsuit and ran to try the very secret sketch that she will present at the Ariston Theater together with the actor Antonio Albanese in the first evening of the Sanremo Festival, on February 7. Once the rehearsals were over, he gave me an appointment for an interview by calculating with chronometric precision the exit of his daughter Laura, 4 years old, from kindergarten. In three to four moves, in his busy day, he found all the joints.

A steel wire covered with velvet: it is the first image that comes to my mind to describe Pao-la. The same lightness and determination that the 43-year-old actress dispenses in the comedy Mamma or Papa? directed by her husband Riccardo Milani and played by her in couple with Antonio Albanese (in cinemas from 13 February). The remake of a French comedy hit, the film chronicles the no-holds-barred fight between spouses who have decided to divorce and quarrel to avoid custody of their children, three angry and spoiled teenagers who would make anyone miserable. In order to avoid the risk of having them borne, the two protagonists bounce lies and low blows, but the surprises are not lacking and the ending is not to be taken for granted. "It is a funny comedy because it is incorrect," Paola tells me. He pauses, smiles: "The subtitle could be:" Everything you ever wanted to know about family but never dared to ask. " We must have the courage to overturn commonplaces ».

What do you mean?

«Every now and then even the best parents in the world dream of liberation from their children and the film, albeit with the paradoxical tone of comedy, is an invitation to recognize this unconfessable truth. Not to be enslaved by the boys ».

And is it possible to do so, in your opinion? Is the problem already posed with your Laura?

"The girl is still small, but she is undoubtedly the fulcrum of the family, the center of the universe. Life at home revolves around her. It is inevitable, after all I don't even dare to think what will happen when he is a teenager and some no one will have to tell him ".

What kind of girl was she?

«I answer you with one word: terrible. I contested the parents, the professors, the society. I did not recognize authority. Those were other times: the dialogue between adults and children was limited and we young people also collected many good no. If something was wrong with school, Mom and Dad took the side of the teachers. Today, however, they agree with the kids in a poke, and in these conditions no educational project is possible. When you are too permissive, children eat your life ».

In the division of roles, at home, are you the good cop or the bad one?

“The bad one, inevitably. My husband has a wider sleeve but a bit of severity is essential. My daughter has a playful character, she is rowdy like all children and I, when I can, indulge her. To tell the truth, I am lucky: she is a rather obedient child, but there are times when I do not compromise. I do not tolerate him putting himself in danger, for example. And I know how to overcome difficult moments ».

I'm all ears: does he reveal to me how he does it?

“I'll laugh it off. My father taught me that he had to manage three rowdy children. Quarrels and tensions in the house were constant, but his secret weapon was laughter. He was right. When the situation is in danger of escalating, a joke or a joke helps to restore calm. The "stupidèra" has always saved families ».

Speaking of family: in the film, her character gets a promotion that would take her abroad but, in order not to upset the balance of the menage, at first she gives up. Are women inevitably inclined to take a step back?

«The situation described in the film, albeit in the exasperated tones of the comedy, is entirely probable. A woman puts responsibility and guilt before any decision that affects her present and her future. He questions himself, tortures himself and often gives up in the name of the "best interests" of the family. A man, on the other hand, would never think of letting go of a career opportunity, whatever the cost. The problem does not really arise. And not because he is selfish: the male is simply constructed in another way ».

Have you ever given up on a job because you were afraid it would have repercussions in the family?

"Never. But I am a lucky woman: with my husband we decide everything together, step by step, and there has never been a reason to discuss a choice of one or the other ".

Tell the truth, Paola: aren't you afraid that the film may be a bit unsettling because it breaks the taboo of the mother as an angel of the hearth, always and in any case at the service of the children?

"Humor is the keystone of life. Even when it ends up being a bit stinging, as in the case of our comedy. I hope the viewers understand this. But I'm optimistic and deep down I think they'll end up envying our characters: at least for a day, who wouldn't want to get rid of their nuisance children and take a breath of fresh air? ».

For some time you have been writing screenplays for your films: do you feel the need to have more control over your work?

"For more than twenty years I have been the author of my theatrical and television shows. And when the directors started asking me to put something of my own in the characters for the cinema as well, I took courage. I started writing scripts together with professionals I trust, such as Massimiliano Bruno and Giulia Calenda. So I feel I have more control, of course, but I can also tell stories in which I reflect myself or that I particularly care: like the film Excuse me if I exist. The protagonist who, in order to work, must pretend to be a man seemed emblematic to me ».

Are you a very brave person?

"Yup. In private life I throw myself into things without thinking too much or calculating the consequences. And in my work I even consider myself reckless because I am not satisfied and I feel the need to raise the quality bar more and more. I like to experiment, I'm not afraid of risks and novelties. I try to get to professional appointments maniacally prepared. And I confess that I have already put the post into the account ».

After what? Do you mean that one day he will stop working?

«No, I love my job too much to give it up, but sooner or later the desire to perform in public will fail. Then I will embark on a new path exclusively as an author. I await that moment with serenity, I am sure it will be equally exciting ».

Compared to twenty years ago, do you feel a lot changed?

«Today I have the ability to know myself more and to foresee my reactions. Sometimes I look at myself as a stranger and I see a much more aware and shrewd woman. Now I hear that alarm bell that rings every time I risk tripping. Let's say that I have learned to avoid mistakes ».

Which ones, in particular?

“I stopped trusting everyone and taking things in a poke. Today I recognize more quickly who I have in front of me and above all I immediately understand the intentions he has towards me ».

Does being directed by her husband give her more peace of mind or, on the contrary, does it risk limiting her?

"Shooting a film with Riccardo is a fantastic experience. On set he gives his best because he is in his natural element: he gets up at dawn, is full of energy and can't wait to lead the crew. As for our relations, he is keen to maintain a serious and apparently detached demeanor so that no one can accuse him of favoring me. But for this very reason I enjoy embarrassing him, addressing him with the nicknames of our intimacy. The workmanship of Mom or Dad? was punctuated by laughter ».

If I say the word "dream" what comes to your mind?

«I am so satisfied that, at the moment, I do not know what to answer you. I have everything and I don't want anything. One moment, maybe I have a dream: I, who have always sung, now I would like to interpret a musical in the theater. It is an experience that I still miss ".

Did you talk about it by chance with your pop star friend Laura Pausini?

“Sure, I confided my wish to you. Laura is someone I love. We spent a New Year together, with our companions and their respective girls, in his home in Romagna. We are two completely different types in character, habits and lifestyles, but an unexpected and very solid alchemy has taken place between us. We met last year, when we presented the Rai Uno show Laura & Paola together, but from the very first meeting we had the feeling that we have always known each other and today our bond goes far beyond work. I don't know all of her songs, she hasn't seen any of my films. And yet we feel like sisters ».

What does he envy to his friend?

“The ability to take things lightly. Laura is very good at playing down and loves sharing feelings and experiences. I also admire his empathy. He leads a crazy life, always around the world but, if he feels that I have a bad day, he still finds a way to be close to me. This is true friendship. One more reason to be grateful for life ».

What do you expect from the move to Sanremo?

«Antonio Albanese and I will be on stage for a few minutes, we will promote our film and I am sure we will have a great time. On the set we bonded so much ».

It is not his first time at the Song Festival

"It's true, I participated in the 2004 edition hosted by Simona Ventura, I was on stage every night with my characters and my sketches. I keep a wonderful memory of it also because I didn't have the tension of the singers in the competition. I was just thinking about making a show and I was given a great deal of freedom. It is a good that I can never do without ».

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