Erin Cummings, who plays Marisa Gallo on AMC’s Feed the Beast, talks about Marisa’s relationship with Dion, reuniting with actor Michael Rispoli (Detective Giordano) and what personal advice she’d offer her character.
Q: What attracted you to Feed the Beast?
A: I was shooting a guest star role on Blue Blood and the timing just worked out perfectly. [Casting director Ross Meyerson] found out and I came in to read for him, Clyde Phillips and [director] Steve Shill. It really happened so quickly. In fact, I didn’t even have time to go home and get more clothing from Los Angeles. I really have Ross to thank for initially bringing me in and, of course, Clyde for writing such an exciting and dynamic character that I immediately fell in love with.
Q: We’re first introduced to your character as Dion’s lawyer when they have, shall we say, a little jail room tryst. When you read the script, did you have any idea that the encounter would lead to a pregnancy down the road?
A: I had no idea! The pregnancy was a fantastic reveal for me because that just adds a whole new element to the character. The wardrobe designer and I spoke a lot about the character and one of the things that we agreed on is that she would wear a cross as a necklace. I liked the idea of her having this dichotomy of being a put-together professional lawyer and an Italian-Catholic woman, yet at the same time, we meet her when she’s having this tryst in the jail room with her deviant client. I loved the contrast of that.
Q: What kind of father do you think Dion would be if he decided to stick around?
A: I think Dion would be the kind of man who would eventually grow into the role of fatherhood and I’d like to think he would rise to the challenge. However, Marisa would probably be more of the caretaker in the relationship. She represents stability in his life and a normalcy that he doesn’t really have. He lost his parents and he didn’t have an example of mom and dad like Marisa has.
Q: Speaking of mom and dad… Were you surprised (like us) to learn that Detective Giordano is Marisa’s father?
A: Michael Rispoli and I actually worked together on a miniseries and we didn’t have a single scene together, but there was a lot of downtime between scenes. He’s such a wonderful human being. [When I found out] Marisa’s dad was being played by Rispoli, I practically started crying! I was so happy to reunite with Michael. When you’re playing a role that intimate — father and daughter, husband and wife, or lover and lover – having a pre-existing relationship just adds so much to the dynamic. I was so thankful the stars aligned and it made my job so much easier.
Q: How would you describe this tangled dynamic between Marisa, Dion, Giordano and Patrick?
A: It really is this wild spider’s web. That things are interconnected on the show really comes from the genius of Clyde Phillips. He has this wondrous way of creating all these separate worlds that seemingly exist independent of one another and then all of a sudden, one person from a world will cross into another. The way that things continue to develop and reveal themselves just gets more and more explosive, powerful and emotional.
Q: What about the quickly developing relationship between Marisa and Pilar (especially unbeknownst to Marisa at this point that Pilar had sex with Dion)?
A: This friendship that is seemingly developing is a ticking time bomb and it adds to the anticipation of when the bubble is going to burst. Marisa has a great opportunity to become more vulnerable and share – thinking she has a trusting friend – and Pilar has to struggle with living a lie. It just adds to the depth of the show.
Q: In Episode 7, Marisa finds a tooth under her pillow – a clear warning from the Tooth Fairy. Do you think this is a turning point for the Giordano family? Has the detective’s obsession with Patrick gone too far?
A: The dynamic between Giordano and Marisa certainly evolves into a more nurturing, caring and protective relationship – and that results in some very emotional exchanges between the two of them. Certainly, Giordano up until this point has been very headstrong and determined in catching his “white whale” and he tends to do his own thing. We’ll see where that leaves him.
Q: Marisa is dealing with a lot right now. What advice would you give her about Dion, if you could?
A: If Marisa were my friend, I would have told her to dump that baggage a long time ago! [Laughs] She wouldn’t have even gotten to this point. We’ve all been there, though. I talked to Clyde about the root of their relationship and he said it brilliantly: Dion is the drug she just can’t quit. That is really at the heart of what this relationship is. Maybe we haven’t had someone as bad as Dion, but we’ve all had that person. We know in our heart we should just walk away from them and all of our friends hate them, but for some reason we just have to answer that text when it comes in. You look at it from the outside and say, “Why would someone like her fall for someone that’s so wrong for her?” Well, that’s what people do. Before him, she probably dated some boring guy who worked in the finance world and only ordered California rolls when they went out for sushi, and she wanted a bad boy. [Laughs] That’s who Dion is for her.
Read an interview with John Doman, who plays Aidan Moran.
Feed the Beast airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on AMC. To stay up-to-date on all the latest news about Feed the Beast, sign up for the Insiders Club.