Q&A with Gilles Marini of ABC Family’s ‘Switched at Birth’

Q&A with Gilles Marini of ABC Family’s ‘Switched at Birth’

Actor talks about the show’s new season, new revelations and a possible future in politics

By Lie Shia Ong

Gilles Marini was a fan favorite on the all-star season of “Dancing With the Stars,” which wrapped up in December. Now, the actor returns as Angelo Sorrento for the second season of ABC Family’s hit show “Switched at Birth.”

In the Season 1 finale, a jury had ruled in favor of the Kennish family, agreeing that the hospital was negligent in switching their baby with another child. The jury also ruled in favor of Angelo, awarding him a huge settlement.

But just as shocking as the jury’s determination was, another revelation – a mystery woman who showed up in the courtroom claiming to be carrying Angelo’s child—threatened to further strain his relationship with his biological daughter Bay and the daughter she was switched with, Daphne.

MSN TV spoke with Marini about how Angelo’s life has changed when Season 2 picks up on Monday, Jan. 7, and also about how his life has changed since becoming an American citizen last June.

MSN TV: How has being back on set for “Switched at Birth” been?

Gilles Marini: It’s fantastic. From one place I’m dancing 10 hours a day and I’m out of my natural element, I would say. And now I’m back on set with people I really love. So, I’ve been smiling quite a bit the past couple weeks.

When the show picks back up, several big things have happened with your character, Angelo. What can you tell the fans about what to expect?

[Laughs] It’s an incredible, incredible roller-coaster ride. I mean, when someone makes $5 million out of nowhere, it becomes kind of a turmoil, and obviously he doesn’t have a lot of experience, so I think he’s probably going to use his money in the wrong ways, which will probably upset a lot of people. There’s also this mystery woman who comes into play who is claiming that she has his baby. So, when I say roller coaster, I underlined it. It’s very much a roller coaster. I was thinking this first season was brilliantly written, and sometimes you’re afraid what they can do in the second season. They clearly, clearly know what they’re doing, and the second season will probably be even better than the first one.

How do you think Angelo’s relationship with the families, especially with his daughters and Regina, will develop? It seems Regina still has feelings for Angelo.

I think he has this true passion and love when it comes down to Regina. They have this kid, obviously, and this unfortunate event separated them, so it’s a long story, but hopefully they will make it work. I believe that Angelo doesn’t have much experience, like I said, when it comes to being a father. So, he’s very awkward with the girls and the girls are not young girls. They’re becoming women. So, they can hold their own without him, so he has a lot of work during Season 2 to try to get everybody together. Is he going to be able to make this happen? It’s a big question mark. I’m doing like six episodes right now and it’s one thing after the other. It’s really intense. He’s trying as much as he can, but when he makes so many mistakes like that, sometimes people give up on him and sometimes they don’t. So, we’ll see how long the girls can be patient with him and see if they can actually make things work. Deep inside of him he really wants to make things work. He’s just very awkward. It’s very different. He’s got a different way of thinking, so it’s a challenge. It’s a complete challenge.

One of the great things about this show is it’s not only entertaining and dramatic, but it also raises awareness about the Deaf community and the hard-of-hearing community. How proud are you to be part of a show like this?

First of all, I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I would bet on it, that this is the first TV show ever to include complete scenes with absolutely no sound. You actually feel for it. Someone like me who has no problem with hearing impairment, you cry watching those scenes. I don’t think anywhere in the world that has been done. I’m very, very proud of this. … I was not so much aware of this community. I went last week to a restaurant and this woman was from Spain and she watched the show online somehow and she told me she loved us and that it means so much to her. There’s a lot more people who are paying attention to the [Deaf] community. So, this show becomes important more than just the drama, it becomes important. It’s valuable to open the eyes of the masses about the Deaf community.

Switching gears, a little bit, some of your fans sent in questions they wanted me to ask you. Kate wanted to know: During “Gangnam Style,” one of your most memorable dances on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars,” how did you manage to keep your towel on? Was it double-sided tape?

[Laughs] It was a little bit of a hook. The first time we danced, and it kind of came off, and I was like, ‘Oh God, oh God.’ The entire dance that thing was just like coming off, so when Bruno asked me for it, I just decided to give it to him. But it was pretty intense to do that dance. I wasn’t for it at first, but I was like, ‘you know what? Those people who watch it on YouTube for the rest of their lives can actually go back and watch it and have a laugh, and if we can bring some people a little happiness by watching this dance, then we did something good.’

Katie wanted to know: Has life felt any different since you became an American citizen last June?

My only dream was to become an American, so it’s very close to my heart. I love America with everything I’ve got. I probably will die here one day. That’s how much I love this place. My kids are Americans. I submerge myself with American culture. I only have good things to say about this country. I want this country to always be in incredible shape. For me becoming an American was by far the best thing that ever happened to me besides the birth of my kids. It’s really something I wanted with all my heart. So, what’s changed is very simple. I always restrained myself from talking about politics  … because I felt that if you weren’t a citizen your voice is very limited, and you just go with the flow. I feel like now that I am an American maybe I could do something I am passionate about, and that’s politics. I would love to go down that path down the line. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever said that.

I heard that there is going to be a reunion with your “DWTS” competitor Kirstie Alley with a new pilot you’re working on called “Giant Baby.”

I’m sitting in my room as we speak. They are waiting for me to finish the table read. I’m working on as we speak on “Giant Baby” the new Kirstie Alley pilot, yes.

That’s pretty exciting.

It’s incredible. It’s Kirstie Alley. We have a very fun cast. The writers are very good. We’ll shoot the pilot and see what happens. It’s very edgy. It’s funny. It has a lot of heart. My character is a bit of an out-of-control, self-centered cocky chef. It’s something I’ve never really played before, so it’s exciting. Kirstie is just an incredible person. I’m having a good time.

Season 2 of “Switched at Birth” premieres Monday, Jan. 7, at 8 pm. ET/PT on ABC Family.

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