Mamma’s the word
Raoul Bova and Maria Chiara Giannetta tell DQ about their starring roles in Italian family drama Buongiorno, Mamma (Good Morning, Mum), which returns for a second season with old secrets and new mysteries to explore.
Pulling in almost four million viewers for its season one finale, Italian family drama Buongiorno, Mamma (Good Morning, Mum) proved to be a suspenseful, gripping and poignant saga when it debuted in spring 2021.
The story revolves around the Borghi family in both the present and the past, following the love affair between Guido and Anna, who overcome numerous obstacles to become parents to four children – Francesca, Jacopo, Sole and Michele. In the present, Anna has been in a coma for eight years, with her family keeping a constant vigil at her bedside, even as secrets from the past threaten to turn their lives further upside down.
Stars Raoul Bova (Guido) and Maria Chiara Giannetta (Anna) now return for season two, which debuts today alongside a cast that also includes Beatrice Arnera (Agata), Elena Funari (Francesca), Ginevra Francesconi (Sole), Matteo Oscar Giuggioli (Jacopo) and Marco Valerio Bartocci (Michele). The series is produced by RTI and Lux Vide for Mediaset’s Canale 5.
Here, Bova and Giannetta reflect on the show’s success, their characters and their on-screen partnership.
Maria, how would you describe Buongiorno, Mamma?
Giannetta: It’s very dramatic, I have always said that. And I love my character because it’s very tough for me as an actor. I’m playing a mother of four children, and I have to be a young girl in the past. And then for the present, the costume designer and make-up designer make me look like a 45-year-old woman [Gianetta is 30]. My oldest daughter in the series, Francesca [played by Funari], is actually my real age, so they did very good work.
In season one, the present-day storyline sees Anna in a coma, so what’s in store in season two?
Giannetta: There are more flashbacks because the audience has to understand why she went into the coma. We have to know what happened. But I’m also now awake [in the present-day storyline]. It was very hard to credibly play a person who wakes up from a coma after eight years. People cannot talk and move for a long time – maybe they will never move or talk. But we had a meeting with people who have been in comas and they said it was OK to show people how difficult recovery was, and that it was OK [to speed up that process] because the show is a fairytale, in a way.
The thriller element in season one concerned the parentage of Sole. Are there more dramatic revelations this season?
Giannetta: The family story will concern the relationship between the children and Anna because of this big secret they kept all this time, that Sole is not hers. It is also about who hit Anna and put her into a coma. The thriller storyline is about that day eight years ago.
Raoul, how would you describe your character, Guido?
Bova: I have really learned something from my character. He’s very calm, he’s understanding. He can say the right thing in the right moment. It’s not easy to deal with four kids alone. Anna is the best part of the family and sometimes he has felt a little lost with life.
Giannetta: This is the magic of the series, to let people understand what having a person in a coma can be like for a family. Guido is sad that he is alone but, when their children want to talk to their mother, they can. She can really listen. They know she is listening, with no judgement, with no prejudice. That is a big part of the series.
What was the appeal of starring in the series?
Bova: [The opportunity came during] a very bad moment for me, and for everybody, because we were dealing with Covid. My father and mother had [recently] passed away, and when I read the script, I felt like I needed this family; I needed this role. I wanted to be with these people. It’s very powerful, the idea of loving someone even if you have a lot of difficulties.
Elena Bucaccio wrote this series from very different points of view – the points of view of the man, the woman, the children – and I thought, ‘How it is possible to wait so long in a difficult moment [when someone is in a coma]?’ It’s unusual to present a series with a person in a coma, because people don’t want to hear about suffering. But [the viewers] felt the passion and the love [the other characters have] for the mother.
As for my character, Guido lost his love and he didn’t know what to do. But he was strong and promised to wait for her for life. This is something I really want to find in real life – it’s beautiful.
Giannetta: The screenplay doesn’t put the focus on illness, but on life. Anna is life. She’s not ill, she’s alive. That’s the point.
It’s notable how each member of the family has a different relationship with her while she’s in a coma.
Giannetta: In a certain way, they find answers, even if she can’t answer them. They are honest with themselves when they talk with her because she cannot judge them, she cannot answer them, so they have just one possibility – to be honest with themselves, so they can find answers by themselves.
Why do you think the show has been so popular in Italy?
Bova: It’s a combination of things – the rhythm, the suspense, the love, the family, their courage to fight. It’s a different perspective of a family. Sometimes families are very boring, but this family is very complicated.
Giannetta: They are the heart of the story. Everyone has tough times in their family. The teenagers, the children, the grown-ups – they don’t know what to do or what to say, and their main problem is they have trouble communicating with themselves. In season two, they start to communicate better. But after the mum wakes up, the problems start again. And viewers can see themselves in the series – I can see my family, Raoul can see his family.
Maria, how did you prepare to play Anna?
Giannetta: I met lots of people who had been in comas. It was really difficult to find a person who had the same problem as Anna, but we found a woman who was in a similar situation. She was very generous with me and told me all the things I needed to say and do to be Anna. In the series, we accelerated her recovery a little bit because it’s fiction. But we included all the keys to her recovery – the physio and speech therapies, and the emotional part, where you can feel the pressure on her from the family to recover as soon as possible.
Bova: She has to fight, she has to talk, she has to walk. But Guido realises he was pushing too much. There is a beautiful scene where we go into the lake in our clothes, step by step, and I put her in the water. I felt very emotional.
Giannetta: That is the patience from a husband who understands that, ‘I don’t know how much time it will take, but you are here, and that’s the most important thing.’ This is a series about waiting, and so this is all about marriage.
What is it like performing those emotional scenes on set?
Bova: Sometimes when you have a great feeling, you see the scene and it’s terrible. Then sometimes you think you did everything wrong, and the scene is beautiful. It’s very nice between me and Maria Chiara because we know each other and look to each other in a way that means we don’t have to do very much. Sometimes it’s enough to watch each other, to look at each other, and that’s it.
Giannetta: It’s tough and very emotional. I really like comedy and there is nothing to laugh about in this series, so it was very hard. We had to stay in the moment all the time and it was always really heartfelt. I don’t know what we did, we were just in the moment. There are a lot of scenes that were full of emotion. We just had to trust in the directors, and Alexis [Sweet] and Laura [Chissone] were very kind to us. I trusted the directors and my partners in the scenes and we did it.