Exclusive interview: Why Sopranos star Aida Turturro loves Broadway musicals and Hallmark love stories

Aida Turturro stars in Just One Kiss. Pic credit: Hallmark Channel

Sopranos star Aida Turturro was looking for something sweet to sink her teeth into this spring and happily found herself in the middle of Hallmark’s original movie, Just One Kiss.

Portraying meddlesome moms are Turturro and Ileana Douglas, who are modern-day matchmakers; pushing her son and her new friend’s daughter into a sweet old-fashioned romance. 

Mia, (Krysta Rodriguez) the daughter, is a newly divorced college literature professor starting a new chapter of her life with her 11-year-old daughter. Rodriguez is best known for her roles in Halston and Spring Awakening.

Tony, (Santino Fontana), the son, is a happy bachelor, a popular headliner at a supper club whose timeless standards have earned him a loyal following. Both are skittish about getting their hearts broken. He is starring in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and was in Tootsie on Broadway.

The two are recovering from past heartbreak, but it could be that just one kiss will lead them down the path to happily ever after. Just One Kiss is part of Hallmark’s Spring into Love event.

Turturro says that Just One Kiss had a magical feel to it that will make it extremely appealing to viewers. “Some films, like this one, can put you in a hopeful frame of mind. It is about being loving and happy and maybe we can fall in love,” she exclusively told Monsters and Critics. “I think this movie is about looking at love in a bigger sense and it’s about positiveness. These two characters may feel down, but you never know when good stuff can happen. It can literally be right around the corner.”

Read on to catch up with Aida Turturro about her love for Hallmark Christmas movies, enjoying her role on The Blacklist, staying in touch with her Sopranos co-stars, and why she adores her yellow lab.

Monsters and Critics: How did you pick Just One Kiss? How did it come to you?

Aida Turturro: I just got a call from my manager and she said, “There’s this sweet film, there are some good people and I think you’d like it.” I didn’t know the lead actors, but my cousin had done a show with Santino and I heard great things about working with him. I had never done a Hallmark movie before, but I’m a big Christmas girl and so I love Hallmark Christmas movies. One day I want to be in a Hallmark Christmas movie.

M&C: Tell me about playing one of the two meddlesome moms.

Aida Turturro: These two mothers do what they can from where they are. They’re like” let’s do this.” They’re like old Jewish and Italian women, they’ve got these fun clans, old-fashioned types. I love that it’s corny because I look at corny as beautiful. I’m an old-fashioned girl. To me as long as it comes with a big heart; it’s beautiful. As long as somebody’s really trying to make life better for someone else, as they both are, it works for me. I look forward to seeing the final cut of the movie just to see the fun in it. I’m looking forward to it. I think “the kids” did a great job. I think they really have beautiful chemistry and they’re really good together.

M&C: Did you know your co-star Illeana Douglas before this movie?

Aida Turturro: No, I didn’t know Illeana, but we became fast friends.

M&C: The chemistry was there. You were adorable together.

Aida Turturro: It was easy. We both work with our hearts, and so we easily worked off each other. She is very funny and honest and it was totally a fun experience.

Illeana Douglas and Aida Turturro in Just One Kiss. Pic credit: Hallmark Channel

What was the overall experience like?

Aida Turturro: It was nice. We got to Vancouver and stayed at a nice, little hotel with its own kitchen. They worked fast so I was like, wow, it wasn’t like 16-hour days which you’re used to when you’re doing episodic television or films. I loved working with the actors and crew. We hung out a little bit. It was a lovely crew and the director was great. Everyone was extremely nice. The costumes, make-up, and hair could not have been better. It was an easygoing experience. I went away, got to hang out in Vancouver, have some fun, and shop a little. It was a lovely experience.

M&C: Tell me about the shopping.

Aida Turturro: I love thrift shopping. I love the regular, funky thrift shops. I got this great Canada sweatshirt that I wore earlier today.

M&C: Tell me more about Just One Kiss.

Aida Turturro: When I say that I did a Hallmark movie so many people are like, “Oh my God, I watch them all day.” Especially with so much in our lives being so heavy in the world and the drama and the negativity and trying to survive. Sometimes you need to escape and be in a feel-good world. I do cameos and when I do them people ask me for advice. But I always want to try to put out a positive message, let’s be giving, let’s be sharing, let’s be happy, let’s look at the good. I think that we all tend to go through a really traumatic time and therefore I’ve put that out into the world. 

M&C: What was it like to be in your first Hallmark movie?

Aida Turturro: I really enjoyed the experience with Hallmark. They’ve got it going on. It’s a little different in the sense of how it’s faster, it’s a lot faster than what you do on other shows. But it’s great because they get to employ a lot of actors and I look forward to the show. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I think when you get some good talent, like the kids, then people care and they know how to do it, they pull it together. They’ve definitely got it down to a science.  

M&C: I enjoyed your segment on the Talking Sopranos podcast with Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa. How did you feel about it?

Aida Turturro: I never watch (or listen) to anything of mine. I can’t watch one thing that I ever do, but they are still family and always will be.

M&C: Who do you keep in touch with the most? I know you were on an episode of Nurse Jackie with Edie Falco, who played Carmela Soprano.

Aida Turturro: Edie and I are good friends. I’ll see her and hang with her a lot. I miss the Sopranos kids (Robert Iler and Jamie Lynn Sigler), but what’s hard is we live in two different states – they in L.A. and me in New York. Sometimes I see one of the guys at an event and we are happy to see one another. 

M&C: Have you gone back and re-watched the seasons of The Sopranos?

Aida Turturro: I wanted to go back and watch it and I think I did but I think it was too early on. So, I started to and then I couldn’t deal with it. I think I should go back, but it’s very hard. Well, I mean watching myself back then, it just brings up a lot of history. And then to watch Jimmy [Gandolfini]. I feel like I was close with James and I feel like he’s still with me. I knew James for years before The Sopranos. And I see his daughter and his widow, Deborah. The last few weeks I have been sorting photographs and organizing them, and I’ve got so many from years ago. Every picture of James that I see I feel like he’s hugging me. He’s still in my heart, I still believe he’s in my life.

Santino Fontana and Krysta Rodriguez in Just One Kiss. Pic credit: Hallmark Channel

M&C: What was it like doing Blue Bloods, Nurse Jackie, and other procedural TV?

Aida Turturro: I also do a lot of Blacklist. I love The Blacklist. Oh my God, I feel like they’re family over there. They’re really professional and working with them. I’m actually going to film one this next week. I love doing that because I’m in the city with the city gang. It just keeps you going.

M&C: Why is The Sopranos still relevant? You have a whole new generation who cares again so many years later. Why do you think it held up?

Aida Turturro: What helped it get stimulated was COVID-19 and people with the streaming, the ability to go online, the ability to watch this  I think that changed for a lot of shows and things where people got to – I guess that’s why Sopranos may have flourished more so than others if I think it stands up. I think it stands up because what you have is these components, which is good writing. You have a story along with fantastic characters and people living in these characters. Theyare true to life.  

But the truth is I think it was really good writing and really good people. Charming actors. It’s hard for me to completely understand it because I was in it and it was hard. I don’t watch it a lot like I said because it’s hard to watch it for me. I think they did a great job. It’s nice that I get some young people coming up to me, really young people, saying, “I just saw the show.”  I’m like, “Really? Oh my God, hi.” Because they were just being born when it came out. They were like three years old or something when we made this awesome show.

M&C: What did you think of The Many Saints of Newark, the recent Sopranos prequel?

Aida Turturro: I liked it a lot. I know that some people had problems with it. you know what? I enjoyed it. The problem is I think everybody wanted a Soprano movie and it’s a film. It’s not a Soprano movie, it’s a prequel. But it’s a film that has its own life and its own story. I enjoyed it and I thought the actors were really good. I really thought they did a great job.  

The thing is I don’t know everybody wants what they want, I don’t know what they want, but I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. At first, I was like who’s this character? And I was in the show, I still had to figure it out. But if you pay attention, you’ll get it. I just enjoyed watching the story for what it was. For what it was. Like, I think everybody – I don’t know, I think they were just trying to make it like it was – I guess they should have just been like it’s a prequel but it’s its own film. If you look at it as a film and not all about Sopranos, I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more.  

M&C: I agree with you.

Aida Turturro: You know what was so weird? As I said, those were my pictures, sorting them in my bedroom. Baby pictures of Michael [Gandolfini], how weird is that?

M&C: Michael [Gandolfini] told me as a young boy he used to take naps on Tony and Carmela’s bed and play with his toys on the set of The Sopranos.

Aida Turturro: I’m sure, yeah. Because he was a baby and he took naps when we weren’t filming in there. He’s such a good kid. He’s a really good, young man.

Illeana Douglas and Aida Turturro in Just One Kiss. Pic credit: Hallmark Channel

M&C: Tell me about your yellow lab named Ollie.

Aida Turturro: Oh my God, are you a dog person? I’ll tell you, talk about changing your life. Talk about love and the energy, forget about him, for you especially after losing your mom. It really gives you something that is amazing, amazing. I have a friend who was the only friend who wasn’t a dog person. I was like if you weren’t my friend forever you wouldn’t be my friend. Then a big celebrity gives her – a huge celebrity – gives her a dog for her son. Now she calls me back. This was a few years ago. She goes, “You know what, Aida? There’s nothing worse than a convert.”  Now she loves dogs.

M&C: Have you been able to go to a Broadway play because of COVID-19?

Aida Turturro: I haven’t been in a while. I probably will try to go back, but it’s been a while. I also don’t live in the city; I live all the way in Montauk. I look forward to going back to see shows. I think we all get there. It’s just a different world where you have to live and take care of yourself the best you can. What can we do? You have to go forward and take care of yourself because you can’t spend the rest of your life inside. You can’t do it. I’m not going to do it. I think we’re going to have some issues, but we just have to keep living with it. It’s a whole different world now.

M&C: Why do you want my readers to see this movie, Just One Kiss?

Aida Turturro: I wanted to sing in this movie so badly. I sang on Broadway once in the musical Chicago and loved it. They’re just going to have faith in love, they’re going to enjoy the humor, they’re going to enjoy the singing of music, they’re going to enjoy the whole story. They’re going to love the two leads and I think everybody is going to like it. It’s an uplifting musical. Between the music, the leading actors, and the love story, it’s going to be great!  

Just One Kiss premieres on Saturday, April 2 at 8/7c on the Hallmark Channel.

For more Hallmark, check out Exclusive: Why everyone calls The Sopranos and Hallmark star Lorraine Bracco ‘Mama’ on and off the screen.

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