Doctor's Orders: Interview with Trauma's Cristina Rosato

By , Contributor

Dave Gillespie

Actress Cristina Rosato

As a child, actress Cristina Rosato often changed her mind about what she wanted to be when she grew up. Much to her delight, she suddenly realized one day that the sky was the limit as far as professions if she chose one specific career path.

“When I was six years old, I zeroed in on acting,” recalls Rosato. “I was watching [the feature film] Indiana Jones and thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool. Indiana Jones is an archeologist,’ but then it kind of dawned on me that it was actually an actor, Harrison Ford, playing an archeologist and he could play so many other things, too. Being an actor gives you the freedom to dabble in a lot of jobs and learn about different professions as well as lifestyles. That’s when I realized that I wanted to be an actor.”

Astronaut, race car driver and, yes, even archeologist were among the many future careers Rosato mulled over in her mind as a child. Doctor could have also been among those possible options, and years later that, in fact, has come to past. This month, Rosato reprises her role as Dr. Giulia Amato in season five of Radio-Canada’s long-running French medical drama series Trauma. She first read for the role two years ago, and the actual audition process proved to be a bit of an adventure in and of itself.

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“I wasn’t really working in the French industry and wasn’t really looking to audition in the French industry, either,” says the actress. “It’s kind of a hard little market to break into, especially seeing that I’m an Anglophone. The role called for an Italian speaking Anglophone who also spoke French, which just happened to exactly be me. My agent called me and said, ‘Cristina, I think this role was written for you.’ So she sent me the [audition] sides and I began studying. One of the audition pieces was set in an operating room and I had to learn all these complex medical terms in French. It was really scary because not only was I not used to working or auditioning in French, but there was all this tongue-twisting medical stuff as well.

“I didn’t think the audition went that great, actually, because I kept messing up some of the words, but much to my surprise I ended up booking the job. One of the things that stood out the most for me on my first day on the Trauma set is that I had to put a lot more work into this role than I was used to with an English-speaking series. I mean, I always put in a lot of work, but because this was a French-speaking production it was almost like I had to double-up. With English, I would learn my lines and then think about what I needed to do in terms of the storyline, but in French, I had to be even more on top of my lines. Because of all you had to worry about with filming, hitting your marks, etc., the dialogue sort of has to just slip out of your brain. Whatever it is you’re saying really has to be like second nature, so I went home that night and said to myself, ‘Okay then, you’ve got to put a lot more time into the dialogue.’”

In Trauma, almost a year has passed at Saint-Arsene Hospital since the mysterious disappearance of resident Dr. Sophie Leveillee (Laurence Leboefu). This tragedy has served to further bond the hospital staff, but personal as well as professional obligations are stretching people to the limit. Among the dedicated physicians is Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Giulia Amaro, a highly intelligent, confident and undeniably sexy individual who is not afraid to voice her opinion.

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“Giulia is a very interesting character,” says Rosato. “She’s smart, a hard worker and quite driven. She’s also a lesbian, but initially that is something she’s sort of hiding. Giulia is very much a professional and doesn’t really let people into her personal life. That makes her very much fun to play because I feel like she has a number of secrets. In the beginning, my character came across as a bit of a know-it-all or sort of sassy in her interactions with others, but underneath Giulia is rather vulnerable and vying for approval. She wants to show that she’s intelligent and good enough to be in the position that she’s in. The challenge in playing someone like her is making her more comfortable in her own skin. I can’t give away too much about what happens this season, but she definitely comes into her own and excels at what she wants.

“My character’s girlfriend in the series, Dr. Martine Laliberte [Madeleine Peloquin], is almost Giulia’s only ally in the show at the beginning, as well as her mentor, Dr. Mathieu Darveau [Jean-Francois Pichette] who is the doctor or surgeon that he’s studying under. They’re sort of the only two people who get her and aren’t initially annoyed by Giulia. It’s funny, when you’re on a show like this and with an ensemble cast where the majority of their characters don’t really like your character, it makes for a different type of environment on-set. Obviously it’s not real, but in a number of the scenes, the people around Giulia were sort of cold towards her, so it was an interesting dynamic on the set. Again, I can’t give away too much, but Giulia and her relationships evolve and grow in different ways this year, so I’m curious to see the audience’s reaction to the new season. There’s definitely much more emotional stuff going on with her this season and I loved shooting those scenes.

“I have to say, too, that working with the cast of Trauma is just amazing because it’s very different being on a French set as opposed to an English set,” continues the actress. “On this particular show we don’t have what’s called a first and second team. There is no second team, which means, for example, there are no stand-ins, so we all end up hanging around together on-set instead of going back to our trailers. So we end up collaborating more; we run through the scenes together, we rehearse with one another and talk about the lines and what’s going on. It’s such a great way to work,” she enthuses.

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A native of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Rosato studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and was mentored by the late acting coach, Jacqueline McClintock. She made her professional debut in the 2003 short film One Hot Rotting, Zombie Love Song. The actress went on to appear in a number of made-for-TV movies and such TV series as Murdoch Mysteries, The Republic of Doyle, Flashpoint, Lost Girl and Rookie Blue. Her feature film credits include Son of Mourning, Perfect Plan, Hidden 3D and Territories.

Territories was my first leading role in a movie, and was a really crazy experience, but in a good way,” notes Rosato. “We were working In Quebec in December in the middle of winter and it was freezing. We shot the film in French as well as English, so we would set up the scene, light it, rehearse, and shoot it in English. We would do it until we got it right and the director was happy. Then we would turn around right away and shoot it all over again, only in French. It was a very emotionally demanding movie and a terrific learning experience as well.”

Rosato has also lent her vocal skills to creating characters for the video games Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. “There are different types of challenges working in video games,” she explains. “You’re not working opposite the other actors and because you’re playing an animated character, you need to convey a great deal more with your voice. This was my first time working in this type of field. I’d never been in a recording studio before, so that was completely new to me, but I really enjoyed working with the director and finding my character’s voice.”

In addition to Trauma, the actress appeared opposite Tricia Helfer and Mark Lutz this past month in the Hallmark TV movie Finding Christmas. She can also be seen in a recurring role in a new French Canadian TV series called Les Jeunes Loups, which premieres this month on Groupe TVA. “I can’t say too much about this show, but I can tell you that it’s called Les Jeunes Loups, which means ‘Young Wolves,’ and it’s about a team of journalists in Montreal,” explains Rosato. “Like Giulia in Trauma, my character in this series, Gabriella Fiori-Bertoni, is also an Italian, French-speaking role. She’s not a journalist and I’m having a lot of fun playing her.”

Please note, all photos of Cristina Rosato are by/copyright of Dave Gillespie, and Trauma photo by Vero Boncompagni and copyright of Radio-Canada.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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