You may recognize the gifted and hysterical Connie Giordano from her performances in multiple theatre productions, or for her role as “Debbie” in the horror film, Mr. Hush.
I had the privilege of chatting with Ms. Giordano about her current role in HBO’s new series, Mare of Easttown. The series follows Kate Winslet as “Mare”, a detective in a small Pennsylvania town who investigates a local murder. Ms. Giordano plays “Patty DelRasso”, a restaurant owner and Mare’s former high school basketball teammate.
Check out the interview below!
Gabrielle Bisaccia: Let’s talk about the gravy vs. sauce debate. I saw on your social media that you call the “red stuff” that you put on pizza and pasta, gravy, which is of course the correct choice! Was this what your family called it? What part of Italy is your family from?
Connie Giordano: I can’t believe you started with that! I love that! It’s been a huge debate in my neighborhood for months now. I jar my own sauce every Fall, and that’s how it started. I got in a big text debate with some of my neighbors who insist that you call it sauce, even though they are from Italy. My family is from Reggio Calabria, which is the southern part of Italy, and my grandma always called it gravy! She was an immigrant from Italy, and every September she would have an assembly line full of kids helping her. So, it’s gravy! I gave the director and Kate [Winslet] a jar of my gravy when we finished production.
GB: I’ve also seen on your social media that you enjoy baking. What’s your favorite confection to bake?
CG: I’m definitely an amateur, but with Covid-19, I started watching all the cooking shows and baking championships on Food Network that I never had time to watch before. I’ve done a lot of theatre over the years so I’m usually not around at night and I’ve missed a lot of TV! I have to say a favorite, and I know it sounds simple, is my sugar cookies. My nieces love them, and a girlfriend gave me her recipe. I make them super thick, and I go nuts with the decorating.
GB: Let’s talk a little bit about Mare of Easttown. How did you get involved with this project?
CG: It’s been in production in the Philadelphia area for at least two years. I actually auditioned back in 2019. I didn’t hear anything after a week, so I thought it had come and gone. The only thing I knew about it was that it was an HBO series with Kate Winslet’s name attached to it, and that alone was enough for me to audition! I ended up getting the role and I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.
GB: How did you prepare for your role of Patty DelRasso?
CG: I was very fortunate because as you know, I love to cook and the character owns an Italian restaurant with her husband, so that was a no brainer. The Delco accent was a big part of the show in terms of rehearsals, and we even had a dialect coach on set. I’m from Delaware County, so it was cake! I was so thrilled that everything meshed so perfectly for me and that was a gift.
GB: I’ve read that you live in Phoenixville, PA, which is only about 20 minutes from Easttown, PA. Had you been to Easttown prior to your role in the show?
CG: I was born in Delaware County and then we moved to Valley Forge when I was seven. I grew up on Valley Forge Mountain which is in Montgomery County, right near Westchester County. I have been to Easttown, and I hate to admit it, but it’s one of those little towns that you’re not even aware of because you drive through it in under five minutes and don’t even think about where you are or what it’s called. I had to really educate myself on the town, even though it’s so close!
GB: Was the environment and atmosphere portrayed in the show accurate to what life is like in a small Pennsylvania town?
CG: I’ve only seen the first couple of episodes myself, but that’s what I liked about the show. I love that the writer, Brad Ingelsby, and the director, Craig Zobel, captured the sense of community in this area so well.
GB: What was it like working with Kate Winslet?
CG: She was a delight! I liked her the minute I met her, which was the first day on set. It was a rehearsal and script read where we talked about the story and characters in the early Fall of 2019. She was really so nice and personable and so professional throughout the whole project. She certainly had her own obstacles because of Covid-19; she’s a producer on the show as well, so she had to make some calls about shutting down and I was so thrilled that the show came back at all because a lot of shows were cancelled. We had filmed 75% of the show before Covid-19 hit, so of course I was terrified we weren’t going to finish. When I got the message that we were coming back, I knew she had a lot to do with it. You can tell how much her heart is in it. And yes, I did have a moment during the first table read when I was sitting next to her and thinking to myself, ‘I’m sitting next to Rose!’.
GB: We find out in Episode 1 that Erin has been murdered. After Episode 2, I already have my own list of suspects! Were you privy to that information early on in the project? Or did you have to wait until the specific episode was filmed to find out who the killer was?
CG: First of all, everybody I know thinks they know, and I get messages daily saying who they think it is and I have to tell them, ‘I can’t reveal it!’. I had to sign a confidentially agreement that I wouldn’t reveal the plot, but I did know very early on because I’m in almost every episode, and I’m in the last episode, so I received those scripts. What I really like is that every episode that I read, I thought I knew what was going to happen and who the killer was, and I was totally wrong!
GB: Mare of Easttown falls into the crime genre while the film, Mr. Hush, where you portrayed the character of Debbie, falls into the horror genre. Is it safe to say that horror/crime are your favorite genres of film and TV? Do you actively pursue roles in any one genre over others?
CG: It just happened like that really! For Mr. Hush, I knew the producer from 20 years ago in New York, and he’s been out in Los Angeles for a while. He called me to tell me he was a part of a film that was being shot in Pennsylvania, and asked if I was interested, so that’s how that happened. It was such a wild ride, and I had so much fun! I had not been a part of the horror genre prior, and most of the cast were from all of the horror movies from the 80s! The lead was the actor who played Michael Myers in Halloween 5 and then there was Stephen Geoffreys from Fright Night, so it was a whole other world for me. I come from a theatre background, but I’m a huge Law and Order fan, and I really enjoy the crime genre, so when I read the script, I was just thrilled to be a part of something that is so hot right now. In terms of my niche, I’m a character actor, so this is a new chapter in my acting career.
GB: How did you make the transition from singing and acting in theatre to acting in film and tv?
CG: I started in theatre a long time ago and got my training in New York. I started acting when I was about 8 or 9 in school shows and other plays and community theatre. I’ve done commercial work over the years as well and I’ve been auditioning for television and film for over ten years now. Theater will always be my number one because it’s my roots and where I’m from, and I think a lot of actors start there and feel that way. It’s very different from film in terms of the process. I still do theat and hope to continue, along with film and television because they are each rewarding with a different process.
GB: Are you currently working on any other projects that you can share with our readers?
CG: I’m currently doing commercial work and I’m a brand representative on HSN, so you can catch me there! I’m not ready to announce anything yet in terms of film or television, but I’m really looking forward to when I can.
Watch Connie Giordano on Mare of Easttown on HBO and HBO Max, Sundays at 10PM
Watch the trailer for the show below