Zoe Saldana finds love and loss in ‘From Scratch’

Zoe Saldana says filming her new Netflix series, “From Scratch,” brought up emotions from her own life, ones she thought she had processed long ago. Her father died when she was 9, leaving her mother to care for her and her two sisters as a single mother.

“Grief is very deceptive,” she said. “There is management but no closure.”

In “From Scratch”, Saldana plays Amy, an American who travels to Italy to study her true passion, art. There, she meets a handsome local chef named Lino, played by Eugenio Mastrandrea. They fall in love and Lino follows her to the United States. Their fairy tale, based on the memoir of actor Tembi Locke, is threatened by illness.

“I knew grief from the perspective of a child losing their hero,” Saldana said. “I never understood it from my mother’s perspective, losing a partner, losing the love of your life and having to struggle with grief, but also having to welcome joy into your life because you have little co -addicts who need you.”

Locke co-created the series with his sister, Attica Locke, who also served as executive producer and worked with Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine on “Little Fires Everywhere.” This connection helped put Tembi Locke’s book in Witherspoon’s hands.

Witherspoon was so taken with the book that she acquired the rights to it and made it an official selection of Reese’s Book Club. She also told Saldana about it over dinner.

“She said, ‘I just want you to read it. For some reason this reminded me of you. I am excited about this book. … Read it and give me your opinion. And if you like it, I think you’d be perfect to play the lead role,” Saldana said.

There are details in the series that do not appear in the book, or are changed, because the Lockes were aware that they were creating television.

“We’ve been very clear about creating psychic distance, if you will, to be creative storytellers,” Tembi Locke said. “We knew the characters were going to have to do things for the purposes of an on-screen narrative that might not have happened in real life. We wanted the freedom and the license to do that.”

It was also a blessing for Tembi Locke to have his sister lead this personal and moving project.

“Not only was she a great voice of encouragement to write the book, but the opportunity to elevate the story further and give it a wider global audience was very honouring, quite frankly,” she said. declared. “It was a very exciting thing to do creatively, but to do it with my sister, I knew we could protect the essence of the book.”

Attica Locke, on the other hand, doesn’t think they needed much protection as they were surrounded by a team and crew who respected the weight of the project.

“My sister, the memory of my brother-in-law, my niece. All those people I love in a way that I can’t put into words, but can put into action. The love for (their story ) woke me up every day to do the hard work. It drove me more than protection because I think love allowed us to attract people who could feel it or also had it in their own heart.

Saldana agrees. “Everyone on that set knew exactly what we were there to do.”

The sisters consulted each other “when the hard times came, and they did,” Tembi said. “We would make a plan for how to handle it.”

For example, Attica Locke suggested her sister stay off set for hospital scenes.

She said to her sister, “Could you give me four things that you want me to make sure to pass on to the director and the actors so that you don’t have to sit through the recreation of the most difficult times in your life. . Let me be the ambassador.'”

There were also days of joy and fun. Part of the filming took place in Italy. A restaurant scene where Lino seduces Amy through his cooking was a highlight. (It also happened in real life and Tembi Locke talks about it in his book.)

“It was the first scene at which I was like, ‘Wow, Eugenio,’ because Eugenio is much younger than me,” said Saldana, who is 44; Mastrandrea is 28 years old. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, you hired a kid to play in front of me. Like, I’m so sorry.’ He’s definitely the kind of man who reads older when you meet him, but when you talk to him, he’s so young and he’s so dynamic and handsome.

“And I just remember that shoot, like, when we walked in, he was like the owner of this kitchen, and we were all like, ‘Well done, sir.’ We made him blush a lot,” she said with a laugh.

Saldana also bonded with Tembi Locke to have an Italian husband. She married Marco Perego-Saldana (they each took the other’s surname) in 2013 and share three sons.

“In this particular situation, it was easy for me to step out of familiar territory. Not just in the good ones, but also in the frustrating ones. Being married to an Italian is not a daily walk in the park. delicious, it’s delicious, it’s romantic, but it’s also very empowering in the sense that you marry an ancient culture that is very proud of its history, its art, its love and its food,” said Saldana said.

“Tembi and I would have so many laughs, bonding in this way.”

Karl M. Bailey