EXCLUSIVE: Eugenio Mastrandrea (La Fuggitiva, The Girl from last century) has been tapped as the male lead opposite Zoe Saldana in Netflix’s limited series From Scratch, based on Tembi Locke’s bestselling memoir. Danielle Deadwyler (Watchmen, The Harder They Fall), Keith David (Greenleaf, Welcome to the Blumhouse), Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show, Z Nation), Judith Scott (Dear White People, Snowfall), Lucia Sardo (Nastro d’Argento, Picciridda), Paride Benassai (Felicia Impastato, La Fuitina Sbagliata) and Roberta Rigano (I Know This Much Is True) also have been cast in the project, from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banner.
Adapted for TV by Locke’s sister, Attica Locke, From Scratch is the story of an African American woman who falls in love with a Sicilian chef (Mastrandrea) while studying abroad in Florence and goes on to build a life with him in Los Angeles, merging two seemingly opposite cultures.
Tembi Locke, whose memoir was selected as Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine May 2019 book pick, wrote about bringing her book to screen and assembling the cast of the series adaptation.
It’s an honor to revisit From Scratch for the screen. In many ways, it feels like a cinematic love letter– and the perfect next step of this story. Long before I wrote the book about my experience with love and loss after the death of my husband, I spent years replaying the memories in my mind. There is no better person to take on this journey than my creative partner, showrunner, and family member – my sister, Attica Locke. She knows the story like no one else. For us, this is life and art colliding to allow the personal to become the universal.
Having Zoe Saldana sign on to From Scratch was quite literally dream casting. We knew casting certain characters would be a challenge, particularly the lead role of Lino, based on my late husband. Attica called me after she first saw one actor’s audition. She had a visceral reaction and told me we should sit on the phone together as I watched. From that phone call we knew. Here was someone we didn’t know but who felt like family. Every member of our cast feels like that.
After more than a year of isolation, separation, and loss, and it is beautiful and even fortuitous to share a story that embraces the richness of nature, food, love, and travel – the things we have all been denied. I hope the series will nourish our souls, inspire creativity, and, of course, remind us of the magical ways food can express love.
There could be no more perfect home for From Scratch than Netflix. Stretching across multiple languages, many cultures, and two continents, our show is about how love and our shared humanity can cross borders. It’s exciting to know that this series, which highlights the universal things that unite us no matter where we are on the planet, will be streamed all over the planet.
Here are more details about the cast and the characters they play:
Mastrandrea’s Lino is a Sicilian chef who grew up translating literature at night, after spending days picking garlic and olives with his father in the fields of Sicily and learning to cook at his mother’s stove. Lino broke 100 years of tradition by leaving the fields of Sicily to become a chef. It’s through the love of his wife that he’s able to fulfill his dream of dreams before the end of his life.
Deadwyler plays Zora, Amy’s (Saldana) older sister and best friend. Although she sometimes resents her baby sister for getting their parents to go along with her rule-breaking she also lovingly cheers her on. With wry humor, she is Amy’s fiercest ally in the family.
David plays Hershel, former civil rights activist, and Amy’s father. Hershel is a plainspoken man who lets his kids make their own decisions but doesn’t bullshit them if he thinks they’re about to make a mistake. He raised two headstrong young women. Though happily remarried, his divorce from Amy’s mom is a wound he still carries.
Smith plays Lynn, Amy’s bitingly funny mother full of judgment about almost every aspect of her daughter’s life. Lynn gave Hershel custody of the girls after they divorced and has spent the last decade feeling guilty and regretting this decision.
Scott plays Maxine, Herschel’s wife, and Amy’s stepmother. Maxine practically raised Amy and Zora during their teen years, and her commitment to them is unwavering.
Sardo plays Filomena, Lino’s mother. Filomena is deeply bound by Sicily’s Old World culture but is adept at finding clever ways to work around the patriarchal hierarchy of her country and her marriage.
Benassai plays Giacomo, Lino’s father. This man with a grade school education devoted his life to garlic and olive farming and provided for his family; he is a proud patriarch who disapproves of his son not taking over the family business.
Rigano plays Lino’s sister, Biagia. She feels abandoned by Lino but also proud of his accomplishments by leaving home. She is also hurt and angry with herself for all the ways acquiescing to the patriarchal order cost her joy and a different life she could have had.
Attica Locke, who serves as showrunner, executive produces alongside Tembi Locke, Reese Witherspoon, and Lauren Neustadter for Hello Sunshine, Zoe Saldana for Cinestar, Richard Abate, Jermaine Johnson, and Will Rowbotham for 3 Arts Entertainment
Nzingha Stewart, Guy Louthan, Emily Ferenbach for Hello Sunshine, Cisely Saldana, and Mariel Saldana for Cinestar are producers.
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