National City better find some heavy duty earplugs, because Italia Ricci is about to make some
death- inducing noise as Silver Banshee on CBS’ Supergirl. The former Chasing Life star plays Siobhan Smythe, an
aspiring journalist who recently got her dreams crushed by Red Kryptonite infected Kara (Melissa Benoist). Of course media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) would side with her first assistant, when brought up to speed about Smythe’s whistleblowing ways. To be fair, a video of Supergirl letting a bad guy off for his maniacal ways is beyond newsworthy, despite CatCo being Supergirl’s biggest advocate, right? Apparently not.
After being blacklisted, the soon-to-be supernatural foe is infuriated (that’s probably an understatement, but we’ll go with that for now) and without a doubt up to no good. Even before being converted into the super villain we’ve been waiting for, Siobhan is extremely unpredictable with her next moves following her very public termination at CatCo. Look at it this way, Siobhan is a menace without superpowers, just imagine the damage she can do once she’s fully equipped with superhuman strength and sonic screams… we’re anticipating a ton.
In the comics, Ricci’s character is a frequent opponent to both Kara and her cousin Superman, so we’re quite interested to see how things will shape up in the latest TV interpretation of Silver Banshee. What ignites the curse? How does Silver Banshee get teamed up with Livewire? All questions that will be answered within the new few episodes.
I got to chat with Ricci about tonight’s all new Supergirl, and boy did she have some fun things to say. Not only did we talk about Siobhan’s current mental state, but touched upon the human side of Banshee and her hesitance to become this big, bad super villain. Silver Banshee is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe and we’re anticipating just that once she finds her footing in National City. For good measure I threw in some pertinent questions regarding the transformation into this iconic character (I hear the contacts are a real pain!) and of course the stars knack for cheeses and charcuterie. Did I mention we talked about “Winnabon,” the relationship pairing of Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and Siobahn?
Let’s dive right in…
MCKENZIE MORRELL: So, I’m sure it was hard to move on from playing April in Chasing Life. I know I’m still not over it, to be honest…
ITALIA RICCI: I know, me neither. But with Siobhan, I’d like to think a little bit of journalist April’s spirit, although skewed, can be kind of seen in your character on Supergirl. Did you channel any of your past roles to play Siobhan?
No, not really. I actually kind of kept in mind Emily Blunt from The Devil Wears Prada because I wanted her not to be—you know, it would have been easy to play her in a way that just painted her as a jerk the whole way through and that would’ve been just sort of the cop-out. But, I wanted people to like her and I wanted them to want to know about her story and—not necessarily like her, but at least enjoy not liking her and I wanted people to see that there is a real person in there. However misguided her intentions are, she’s still human. For now, anyway. And so I think that the writers and the director and everybody involved really helped make that happen and I feel like a lot of the fans are enjoying her and are
interested in why and how she becomes The Banshee..
And now, do you think her relationship with Winn is something that gives her that duality and that humanity that, you know—hey, this girl does have feelings and she’s not as bad as she might seem?
Yeah, totally. I was not expecting that. When I read the script and turned the page, I was like, ‘did I read that right?’ Is that my character? I was like, that is so fun for her to throw that into the mix, you know, and have sort of the only person that gets her on that level in the universe of Supergirl. It’s nice for her to have that rock.
Is that going to create any conflict between Kara and Winn moving forward, in
being kind of in the middle of that feud that’s going to start happening?
Yes, you will see where his loyalty lies.
Oh boy! And now, obviously since Siobhan and Silver Banshee are from the DC Comics, did you experience
any pressure to kind of live up to this character that has already been established in this universe?
I did, more as Banshee. I was more concerned about playing Banshee and having her look as authentic as she could because there have been other Silver Banshee’s in TV shows and I have looked at them, but I don’t think they are as honest and true to the original DC character as ours is. But as Siobhan, in the comics she’s got a little blonde pixie cut and I was like, okay, if I’m going to be taking liberties, I can take them as Siobhan. I just sort of played her in the way that felt
most believable and most comfortable for me in a way that you would believe she’s capable of doing the things she does as Banshee.
Yeah, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the whole “shipping” craze that’s been circulating through the fandoms. Have you been getting any feedback regarding the relationship with your character and Winn on the show?
Yeah, people have started the “ship” the name “Winnabon” because Siobhan—a lot of people were
having trouble pronouncing her name… so eventually they just started calling me “Cinnabon.”
It was great. The ship name became “Winnabon.” And the fans—a lot of them loved it and a lot of them hated it because, you know, it wasn’t too long ago that he told Kara that he loved her. So, we’re getting a mixed pot. But at the same
time, she wasn’t into it. What is the guy going to do, pine forever?
No, he’s got to move on! And now, obviously, the badass villain is bound to come out. Can you tease anything about that evolution?
You will have to tune in tonight to find out.
Ooh, that’s so exciting. And you know, Siobhan doesn’t seem like the forgiving type. When you mix all these super powers, destruction is bound to happen. Do you think she’s met her match in Supergirl or even The Flash?
Well, I think she doesn’t know how to be a super villain. She’s not inherently a bad person. She just wanted to become something and she was working really hard to do that and yes, she’s snarky, but she didn’t have indecent intentions off the top. She found that video footage of Supergirl letting a bad guy go and Cat ignored that. And so, she was just doing what most journalists would do in trying to get that story out and trying to advance her career; And her having been manipulated by Kara— because of that, it sort of gave her a bad taste in her mouth. Her whole career got ruined because of what Kara did when she poisoned by the Red Kryptonite and how she developed this sort of rage and the hatred is what sort of ignites the
curse. You saw in the last episode a little bit of the change in her, as she’s getting fired, you could see how her whole world is falling apart as she’s leaving the office and how Kara still gives her that little line in the end where she’s like, “well, I guess that’s your exit.” And it’s just beating a dead horse and it infuriates Siobhan. I think there was a sneak peek that came out for this episode where she’s drinking mimosas and venting to Winn about how her life is ruined because of this girl.
Yeah, you can definitely see it boiling within her and her potential for destruction.
She doesn’t want to inherently hurt people or want to become bad so I don’t think she’s even a close match for Supergirl at the beginning. I think she can become one because she teamed up with Livewire, who she sort of looks to as a role model and is like ‘teach me how to be a villain. I have these powers now and I want to use them to get revenge of people who have hurt me.’
Right? I know, and in talking about Livewire, that seems to be your new BFF moving forward. Is there like a bad girl support group that I’m not aware of where people are like, ‘okay, let’s team up…”
You’ll see how they meet, so to speak or how Siobhan becomes aware of who Livewire is and how she can help her.
Ooh, maybe it’s going to be like a fangirly type of thing?
Kind of. I actually really love the way that they sort of meet. Livewire comes up with the idea for Banshee’s look. I know in the
comics she’s able to transfer back and forth and in this show we weren’t sure if we wanted when she turned for her to not be able to go back to being Siobhan in regular human form—her like regular look. So, you’ll see how they decide if she can turn it on and take it off and how they come up that look.
Now, in terms of the look, your costume is completely insane in the best way possible. How do those contacts feel? They’re super creepy and look uncomfortable.
They’re horrible. They’re gigantic. They’re triple, maybe quadruple the size of regular contacts. There’s a lens technician right on set where before we shoot we have, to lift out my eyelid
and go above my eyeball and then lift my bottom lid and shove the bottom in. I can’t really see with them in; I can only see out of that little black hole that you see. Everything else is white. They get so dry so quickly because it just absorbs the light and you’ll see when Banshee screams, there’s all this air—kind of like when Supergirl is flying, she’s got all this wind in her face and that just dries them out. I have somebody with drops like every 30 seconds. They were horribly uncomfortable, but the whole look was really cool and the contacts really made it. If you saw her without the contacts it doesn’t look nearly as cool as with them, so it was worth it every time.
Have you been taking a lot of selfies in the full Banshee getup…
Oh yes, I will release those. I have a bunch of them; I have plenty.
I think some of them are already online. And the whole first look that we tried— we had about four or five different tests with different versions of Banshee to find the one we could kind of all sort of agree was the best.
Is there any part of your costume you wish you could take home with you?
The contacts were cool if they weren’t so uncomfortable. I just posted a picture yesterday with just me at the
fitting, so I look normal, just with these really cool eyes. The wig was also really fun because it was all white and silvery and I was like ‘hmm, maybe I could pull this off’ The boots were cool. It was all really comfortable leather so I could move in it all and I think all the pieces individually could be put into a really cool outfit, but together it’s obviously quite a costume.
Right? You would definitely attract some eyeballs [laughs].
Your fiancée Robbie [Amell] has also worn the villain hat. Who do you think would win in a face-off? Deathstorm or Silver Banshee? Banshee. For sure.
In the comics, she is one ofthe most powerful villains in DC history. You know, she’s one of the big, bad four. She defeated Superman in an issue and her and Supergirl get into these massive fights and later on they become best friends and roommates. So, Banshee actually turns good in the comics. I don’t know if that’s anything close to what they’re planning or if they’re planning anything for Supergirl, but it could kind of go anywhere.
I think that’d be pretty interesting to introduce that dynamic of evil then turning good and then having another person in the universe to save people with Supergirl. We’re looking forward to seeing how that develops.
And now, let’s say your life was in danger. Which superhero would you call to save you?
Your mom! Aw, that’s so precious [laughs].
[Laughs] I think I would probably call—see, I’m so conflicted. I’d want to call Thor because he’s so hot, but I don’t know. I feel like Iron Man just because he’s Iron Man. Wait, is that the wrong universe? Am I going to get in trouble for that?
Umm, I think we can accept that. We’re talking about all superheroes, all villains, so no trouble here. [Laughs]
Across the board, yeah. I mean, all of them are so cool for such different reasons, so it’s really hard to just pick one. But I think Supergirl of course, but Superman would be cool to just get saved by Superman. There are so many reasons for so many of them. It’s so hard to pick just one.
Right. And do you have any more plans to attend more conventions this year? I know we’d love to see you at—
Yeah! Why not? I have my first one in Birmingham.
MM: Wonderful! What are you most excited about going into these conventions?
All of it. You know, I’ve been to Comic Con for some of Robbie’s shows and then one of mine that I did a couple of years ago. The passion and the energy and the commitment from these fans is just so incredibly—it’s impressive. Robbie was at Toronto Comic Con this weekend and I went and crashed for a couple hours each day and to just sit there and see these people get so excited about it—I’m just so lucky to be a part of it and I’m so
grateful. I had the same kind of experience with April because I did a lot of cancer summits and there’s something happening called CancerCon, which is happening next month in Denver, and it was the same sort of idea because April was a superhero too, just a different way. I feel like I had a taste of it, but now I get a taste of it with prosthetic cheekbones.
[Laughs] Now, do you ever get overwhelmed anticipating the swarm of fans?
I think I get more overwhelmed thinking that I’m going to show up and nobody is going to be in line for an autograph or a picture. I’m just going to be sitting there—that’s my biggest fear. I’m never afraid of too many; I’m afraid of none at all [laughs].
Oh, I highly doubt that would ever happen [laughs]. Completely unrelated to Supergirl, but you seem to have the best girls nights ever.
The spreads that you put on Instagram are practically works of art. How did you get so good at that and where’s my invite?
Oh, you’re invited anytime. You know, I love cheese and I love cold cuts and stuff and I’ve seen them out at restaurants on fancy boards and I was like, ‘I could just buy all this and I could just make it myself.’ And I have OCD and I have probably about 30 wooden boards so I was just like, ‘I can do this…’ So it started small, then I started adding fruit and chocolate and fig jams and different kinds of crackers and breads and it just sort of became its own thing. It so nice because everybody can just pick at it with their wine and eventually we order pizza anyway, so you know.
[Laughs] Well, it looks delectable and it looks like you have a career in itself there if anything falls through [laughs] but it’s always fun seeing your pictures. Speaking of pizza, what kind of pizzado you think the Silver Banshee would eat?
Something super spicy, I feel.
Yeah, I could see that.
I feel like something like, let’s say: cheese, mushroom, pepperoni, jalapeno, with like a fiery garlic dipping sauce.
And Cholula on the side. Actually, my personal favorite is when you mix Cholula and sour cream and you dip your pizza in it, I promise you, you will get butterflies it’s so good
Oh, my goodness, that sounds so good. So obviously you’re a personal fan of pizza, but my signature question revolves around doughnuts, so I hope that’s okay.
Okay, well that’s a very popular thing on the Supergirl set.
Good! Based on your personality, what type
of doughnut would you be? You can make up your own doughnut if it doesn’t exist.
Me personally, Italia, or Siobhan?
Well, I want to be my favorite doughnut, which is one of those, like, raisin cinnamon, honey- glazed things. It’s like a square doughnut and I always put it in the microwave for like 10 seconds so it’s like gooey and chewy and warm and delicious. Although, I’m in Toronto right now and Tim Horton’s just brought back their Nutella doughnuts so I’m going to need a leash to stay away from that.
Right? And now, do you ever put fruit on it?
No, that’s way too healthy!
No? Can’t have that? [Laughs] That’s awesome. Now, lastly, I know you’re a busy gal, but do you have any projects that you’re working on that you want to tell us about?
Well, I just wrapped a pilot for a new ABC show called Designated Survivor, which Kiefer Sutherland, myself, Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Natasha McElhone…and it’s just a fantastic episode of television. When I read it, I was so excited to be going in for it and it’s already picked up straight to series, so I’ll be back in Toronto in June, July to continue it. Kiefer Sutherland plays the secretary of HUD, Housing and Urban Development. He’s a lower level cabinet member. I play a chief of staff and sort of his right hand man. As a designated survivor—which is a real thing—every State of the Union, all the government officials are there are in one place. So, God forbid anything happens, they have a designated survivor which they take to a remote location to keep safe in case of an emergency. There is a catastrophic event and Kiefer is sort of immediately shot into presidency…
And so it follows that and Maggie plays the lead investigator of the attack. It’s just so well done. It’s got the family drama element. It’s got sort of the conspiracy element to it and then it’s got a personal—you know for like my character, she’s young and fiery and bold, so she’s just trying to fit in with all of these people. It’s sort of very similar to how I feel about being on the show. You know, I’m on the set with all these people and I’m like, ‘how the hell did I get here?’ I feel a little bit like her, which is fun and she’s different from anyone I’ve ever played. I’m so excited to see it. I can’t wait to read more of the scripts. I don’t think it’ll premier until the fall, so we have some time. And then, I don’t know when it’s coming out but I did this little rom-com that’s so adorable. The title is changing so I don’t know what it’s called yet, but I play this nerdy botanist who got stood up in high
school. She’s got glasses and braces and frizzy hair and all that and she grows up and becomes a botanist and goes back to her hometown and runs into the people who ruined her childhood. It’s that whole quintessential, very sweet movie that I did because I knew my mother would watch it a bazillion times. So, I’ll definitely let everybody know as soon as that has a release date.
Yeah, definitely keep us posted. It seems like you have some great stuff coming up and we’re looking forward to seeing your character evolve on Supergirl and seeing much more of that.