What a wonderful opportunity to be able to sit down with the newest cast member of the series A Million Little Things, Floriana Lima. During my opportunity to speak over Zoom with Floriana from Vancouver (and on Canadian Thanksgiving no less), the talented actress was beyond gracious in speaking about how her character Darcy (and she herself) are amazing fits in the D.J. Nash-created series. While she recurred toward the end of season two, Floriana is now a full cast member, and her work on the series is a natural progression from her roles in The Punisher and Supergirl, (we’re still upset about the Sanvers breakup!), for the acting dynamo.
The following is a condensed and edited version of a lovely Zoom video chat with the delightful Floriana Lima.
Brief Take: When I was doing research in preparation for this interview, I was re-watching your work on Marvel’s The Punisher, for which I had interviewed Ben Barnes. You were incredible in that show and the window scene in particular really stood out for me. That must have been such a blast to do!
Floriana Lima: Thank you. I love Ben, he’s so great! So I’m sure you had a nice time with him. But yeah, that was really fun, the window scene especially. I had to do…obviously it’s a lot of stunt work, but I had an amazing stunt girl, Yessenia (Cossio). She made me look great. But what we did do that was super fun was when I fell through the actual window, I had to do the wire work where I had to be lifted up in this big giant warehouse and I had to act like I was falling down. And I’m afraid of heights so I said “I don’t know how I’m going to do that”, but then it was so fun, I didn’t want to stop. It was really great.
BT: I was also re-watching your work last season on A Million Little Things and I don’t want to compare the two shows or characters that you played, but there are some commonalities in the themes on both, especially with veterans and their PTSD. What do you look for when you’re choosing roles?
FL: First of all, I have a few vets in my family so I really do connect with wanting to tell their story. With The Punisher, it was so different because I’m dealing with my own trauma, and I’m not a vet, but I work with vets and I see myself through them in that storyline. I guess I’m really drawn to the human condition and the psychology of these characters, especially with something like PTSD that can affect people so differently, and how that can be played out on screen. With The Punisher, it was obviously a very comic-like world and we had these giant scenes where there was a lot of tension and panic. With Darcy on A Million Little Things, what I love about her is that she’s just living a seemingly normal life as a single Mom and she’s just living with this trauma that can be triggered at a moment’s notice. She’s very hyper-vigilant and she has to really be on top of it because not only is she trying to have a normal life, but she has a child to live for and be an example for. I like that you said that the two are similar in ways, but I love Darcy because she’s a lot like many people today who are living with PTSD, she’s normal. [laughs] Krista Dumont is such an intense, twisted, villain of a character but yeah, they’re pretty similar in dealing with the trauma.
BT: What was it like to come onto an already established show as a newcomer?
FL: Well this cast is really amazing. They were so welcoming and it was really easy to jump in and start working with them because they’re such giving actors and people in life, I just love them all so much. We became a very quick family. I’ve done that before on a few shows where I have to come in – I did that with Punisher, I did it with Supergirl, and now I’m doing that with A Million Little Things – but it is a challenge. You have to figure out how they work, what’s the rhythm of the show, what’s the tone, and what are they expecting of me? That’s the challenge for me, Floriana, trying to go in there and fit in. It always just sort of clicks, but I’m still trying to learn Darcy. Every script that comes out, I’m like “ah, gosh, it’s going in this direction”, and that’s really fun for me. It’s been really fun. But yeah, that is a challenge – trying to find the tone and how to work with (James) Roday (Rodriguez), who is amazing! He’s so fun. Everyone on the show is so fun to do a scene with. So it hasn’t been hard. DJ Nash, the creator of our show, it’s as if he has a sixth sense of who will fit well together and who can play what. We’re all just so shocked at how well we click as people and as actors. I think a lot of how well we work together is how well DJ has done in choosing all of us.
BT: How did you go about crafting your portrayal of Darcy?
FL: The thing with Darcy is she’s a Mom and that’s something that I’ve never really played. So I always have that in the back of my mind, that I have an eight year-old somewhere in the world, and I’m mindful of that in every scene, even if it’s a light scene. I think of the single Mom of it all, I mean I grew up with a single Mom, so maybe I’m tapping into that. I don’t know, I’m still kind of learning her.
BT: The show really resonates with a lot of people because it explores a lot of difficult topics but the tone of the show is very comforting and the characters are relatable. How has the show resonated with you?
FL: I like to be able to play a role that makes people feel like they’re being seen, and DJ does that really well with this show. Like you said, there is a lot of heavy content. There’s suicide, mental illness, and there’s a lot going on, but what DJ does so well and what our writers do so well is that they tie in some humour. That helps lighten it up and is easier for people to watch, you know? If you watch something dark and there’s a little humour to it, then you can swallow it a little easier. [laughs] But yeah, I’m drawn to something that has a message and I want it to help people in some way. I think Darcy is the perfect fit for this time of my life and what I want to play.
BT: You’ve done a lot of work with PETA and you’ve recently collaborated with your fellow cast members for breast cancer awareness. What has that work meant to you?
FL: It means a lot to me because I don’t really love the focus on myself. [laughs] I want to be able to help others and if I have a platform and voice, I’d like to use it to help others. Breast cancer is something that we’ve all been touched by somebody who has had it. My Aunt passed away recently and that was a really important cause for me. My work with PETA and animal rights and now with animal rescues, that’s really important to me because it’s something outside of myself.
BT: That shows in the empathy that you radiate on screen, I think, in particular in the scene with Roday’s character where he’s honest about his past heartbreak and your character is open about her PTSD. What was it like filming that scene?
FL: Those scenes, when we were doing them, I was really overwhelmed by them. I think you’re speaking of one scene in particular where it’s after I have the panic attack in the closet and I come out and talk about having to protect my son. I mean I was really trying to hold it back and I think that really worked for the character. I guess I have been feeling a lot of the emotion of the show.
BT: You’re such a natural when you’re interacting with your fans, especially recently with all the Cons in which you’ve been participating.
FL: It didn’t come to me naturally in the beginning. [laughs] When I did my first convention, I was super overwhelmed because it is a lot of working with everyone and a lot of attention, which I’m not really that great with. [laughs] When I started to look at it as ‘this is a way to connect with the people that I’ve wanted to connect with in my work’, it really meant a lot to me to go and hang out with…I have the best group of fans. They’re just so loving, and it’s a joy for me to sit with them. It really means a lot that there’s something coming through in my work that makes them feel heard or entertained or that they can escape something that’s going on in their lives, I just want to have a good message through the storytelling. Especially with Supergirl, the fans that came through on that storyline have been incredibly sweet and loyal and loving. I love to catch up with them as much as I can.
BT: What have you been watching lately?
FL: I just started watching Emily in Paris, I’m on episode three, and I’ll watch cooking shows like Jon Favreau’s The Chef Show, the new season just came out. I love that show! Last night I watched When Harry Met Sally, that’s one of my favourite movies, especially this time of year. I’ve been watching a lot of things that bring me joy, ’80s comedies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles and The Great Outdoors, all of those things that I grew up watching. It’s weird, I’m here all by myself, so I try to watch uplifting things. I have my dog here and I’m obsessed with her, so thank God I have my pup.
BT: With Thanksgiving coming up, what are you thankful for?
FL: Obviously I’m thankful that I get to work in such a crazy time. The COVID-ian era, as I call it. Every day I’m just so thankful that I get to go to work and be able to create a story that’s really going to be great for people to watch in November. People are going to say “oh finally, the show is back!”. We’re going to have a whole COVID storyline so it’s going to be really interesting. I’m also thankful for technology, that I get to Zoom with you and Zoom with my family, and even do the virtual Cons with the amazing fans. I’m really thankful for the connection.
BT: I had a chance to speak twice with David Giuntoli and he spoke about the time period where the cast and crew were unsure if the show was going to be picked up for another season. How does it feel to be filming right now?
FL: This year has been so strange because we didn’t know if we were going to get our third season and if we got that season, how would we begin shooting? It’s been incredibly challenging. Shooting is so different now! You come onto set and you have to go to a medical tent and get your temperature taken. You have to have a mask on and it’s very much how we shoot now. So right before they yell ‘action!’, you have to take your mask off, and right after ‘cut!’, you have to put it back on. I was just saying this the other day to Roday that basically, I didn’t realize how I used that time before a take, where I’m taking off my mask, to really connect with ‘what am I going to do in this scene? what’s my purpose? what am I going to do differently? what are my lines?’, all of that is going through your head and you kind of get interrupted with ‘oh, my mask’. [laughs] So we’re just adapting our own processes to really make it work. From what I’m hearing, the first episode back is looking amazing and you can’t even tell that we’re shooting that way, and that’s all we really want. But it’s been really challenging, you know? When I got up to Canada, it was a two week quarantine and that’s a mental game in itself. [laughs] I had all these plans. I was going to cook, I was going to watch all of this stuff, and I barely did any of that. [laughs] I just got through it. But it’s been challenging and we’re kind of just getting used to it now. It’s weird though, but we’ve adapted.
BT: What can viewers look forward to seeing in this upcoming season?
FL: What you’re going to see is a lot of why Darcy is dealing with her panic attacks and what her PTSD stems from. You’re going to see some pretty intense stuff that we’re about to shoot, so I’m looking forward to that. You’re going to see the storyline with her and Gary and how Gary kind of juggles dating someone with a kid and what that means for him, and he reflects on how he grew up. And you’ll see Darcy interact with the rest of the friends. She and Katherine (Grace Park) have a really great dynamic. So you’ll see a lot more of who Darcy is and how she lives. I’m really looking forward to it! There’s a lot of great stuff coming up.
A Million Little Things will return on Thursday, November 19 at 10/9c on ABC