With Hollywood heavyweights Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman and Donald Sutherland, The Undoing certainly wasn't lacking in star power, but after this week's series finale, it's the relatively unknown Matilda de Angelis who gets everyone talking.
The 25-year-old Italian actress, who grew up in a rural town on the outskirts of Bologna, wowed audiences with her "exquisite performance" and "menacing beauty" as the murdered lover Elena Alvesin, hailed as one of the most famous "biggest breakthrough roles in the last few years ".
The role required Matilda, who has no formal acting training, to appear nude, share a sex scene with Grant, 60, and initiate a kiss with Kidman, 53, in a penthouse elevator. Her bloody face also appeared in haunting flashbacks throughout the six-part series as viewers waited to find out who was responsible for her violent death.
It's hard to believe that de Angelis, who originally dreamed of becoming a singer, only started acting five years ago when she was torn out of the dark on an open casting call in Rome.
Not only was the undo Matilda's first foray into American television, it was too Her first time in English, her first time in New York (where the show was filmed), and her first kiss on screen (with Oscar-winning Kidman, no less).
Not bad for someone who only has a handful of credits in Italian TV shows and indie films.
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Breakout star: The pictured Italian actress Matilda de Angelis, who grew up in a rural town on the outskirts of Bologna, wowed audiences with her “exquisite performance” and “threatening beauty” as the murdered lover Elena Alvesin in The Undoing
Rising Star: Matilda pictured has no formal education and only started acting five years ago
Bright Future: The actress, who studied English for The Undoing, will appear alongside Aidan Turner on her next TV project
Fascinating: After this week's series finale, it's the relatively unknown Matilda de Angelis who played murdered lover Elena Alves (pictured) who makes everyone talk. In one scene from the first episode, Elena approached Grace (Kidman) naked
Before Matilda became an actress, she dreamed of becoming a singer and, like many hopeful stars, shared videos of herself performing songs on social media.
She was discovered when a friend encouraged her to travel from Bologna to Rome for an open casting call.
The The director was specifically looking for a non-professional actress with a "certain accent from a certain region in Italy". Matilda matched the bill and was occupied.
Since then she has appeared in a number of Italian film and television projects, including Tutto può succedere, The Prize, The Big Other and Youtopia, but nothing close to The Undoing.
Matilda, who now lives in Rome, was living in her hometown when she recorded a taped audition for The Undoing after her agent sent her information about an upcoming HBO show.
"After reading the scene, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get the role because it was such a big scene and I was doing it on my own," she told Interview magazine.
Unexpected: The characters also shared a quick kiss in an elevator after a fundraiser at school
Steamy Embrace: Matilda's and Grant's characters had sex the moments before he killed them
"So I thought," Okay, I'll just try and do my best. "When they told me that I actually got the part, I couldn't believe it."
The rising star celebrated by "getting really drunk" and dancing with her friends. She also went on a spontaneous trip to Madrid with her mother.
To prepare for The Undoing, Matilda signed up for English classes before flying to the US to join Grant and Kidman in New York.
"It was the first time in my life that I was visiting New York," she said to W. "I was very excited; New York is perhaps the most iconic city in the world. It was so exciting for me to walk around and be in the City getting lost. I kept thinking, “Oh, this was that scene from that movie!” It was my favorite game.
Matilda played as Elena Alves, a young mother who made a splash when she arrived at the gates of a private school on the Upper East Side and met Grace Fraser (Kidman) and her circle of WASP friends.
Unknown to Grace, Elena had an affair with her pediatric oncologist husband Johnathan (Grant) that ended violently when he beat Elena to death in a violent nighttime attack at her art studio.
Torn from the Dark: Matilda got her first film role after attending an open casting call
Candid: When Matilda discussed the scenes, she realized that she now views Nicole as her "first on-screen kiss" and that filming movies was "liberating" (pictured in March).
The rest of the program looked at the aftermath of the crime and saw viewers ask who was responsible for the killing. Johnathan admitted the murder in the season finale, which aired in the US on Sunday and in the UK the following night.
The prospect of such a complex, sexually charged role would be enough to make even seasoned performers nervous. But not Matilda.
"Kissing Nicole was the least thing that intimidated me," she said in an interview with W Magazine. “I know I'm a good kisser so I don't care.
In the meantime, the idea of acting naked has been "liberating". "Whether it's my eyes or my mouth or my breasts or my vagina, my body is just another tool to express myself. I still am," she told Interview.
"As long as the goal is to communicate something complex, nudity can be a powerful way to express yourself and to convince."
Breakout role: Italian actress Matilda de Angelis starred in The Undoing alongside Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman. It marks her first US production and her first English-language role. In the picture, Matilda cuts an elegant figure in a sorbet pink dress at the 2018 Venice Film Festival
Bright future: The actress recently graced the cover of Italian magazine Grazia and wrapped up another project about Leonardo da Vinci, in which Freddie Highmore and Aidan Turner from Poldark participated. Pictured at an event in Rome in October 2019 and another engagement this month
Dream big: Matilda, pictured in 2018, is hoping to get more English-language roles
Viewers were blown away by Matilda's performance and the show has resulted in a number of high profile interviews.
The actress recently graced the cover of Italian magazine Grazia and spoke to W and Interview, among others.
Exciting projects are already being prepared for the rising star.
She recently directed a Leonardo da Vinci miniseries starring Freddie Highmore and Poldark's Aidan Turner, and will star in The Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson and Liev Schreiber in Across the River and Into the Trees.
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