GREECE – From the warrior Cassandra of “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey“, behind the scenes of Eurovision and on the stage of the Great Competition. From the famous, popular video game, to a great movie signed by Hollywood star Will Ferrell and Netflix.
Melissanthi Mahout follows her dreams ι sharing her time, energy for work, and her love of cinema and acting in Greece and abroad. With careful steps and a little luck – as she says in ETHNOS newspaper – she found herself participating in the comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga“, which, although a bold parody of the Eurovision contestant, touches on essentially the pursuit of the realization of dreams.
The film has been shown for a few days on Netflix’s streaming platforms, it is in the top five of the Greek Top 10 and in number 1 on the platforms of Asia and Australia.
“It’s the biggest thing I’ve done so far in terms of global exposure and production size. I hope that other roads will be opened, “says the actress, who is in Athens for the needs of the shooters of Sotiris Tsafoulias’ TV series” Another Me “.
Born in Canada and raised in Athens by a Greek mother and a Canadian father, with a guarantee of her childhood love of cinema, acting studies at the National Theater and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and her bilingual skills, Melissanthi follows with a focus on its goals. Moving from short films and performances in England to the Greek theatre (Vault Theater with Dimitris Karatzias), to Greek cinema (“Art Therapy”, “South”), to the global video game industry (Cassandra’s role in the famous Ubisoft’s video game gave her two nominations in the American and British “Oscars” of the genre) and on Greek television (“The Other I”), she is now among the talents of the world cinema-television called Netflix.
“I don’t think the recognition offered by Assassin’s Creed helped that role because it’s a game aimed at a specialized audience. Most people just know my voice, not how I look, ”explains the actress, who admits she watched Eurovision for years from a distance without being a fan. And yet in the film he had to play and dance next to artists who have won the competition. The nice thing is that knowing the people involved, I realized how much talent they have. Because it’s all grande, full of glitter and exaggeration, I forgot to really notice people’s voices. Listening to them sing next to me (s.s .: Conchita makes a guest appearance in the film, among other things), I realized that they are not only perfect voices but also the level of professionalism. On the occasion of the film, I reconsidered my attitude towards Eurovision, realizing that I am biased.”
“When the audition for the film came out, I said I would try it out for fun. I did not imagine that I would pass it. The production had already been sought in Greece because the role was for a purely Mediterranean character – the casting announcement was definitely about Italy as well. I was among the candidates. The auditing process was done literally. The fun and interest started afterwards. And it still didn’t occur to me that I could get the role. Where can I imagine it … ” she says.
In the Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of the Fire Saga, Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele are writing the screenplay, and David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”) is directing the story of Lars (Farrell) and the Shakespeareans (Rachel Musk), Rachel McAdams, from Iceland, who seize the unique opportunity given to them to find themselves in the Eurovision Song Contest, which they fell in love with for the first time by listening to Abba’s “Waterloo”, in order to take part and finally get to know the world that has always enchanted them.
Of course, in a film by Will Ferrell (“The Poor Asphalt Knight”, “The Presenter: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Stranger and Stranger”), who has built his distinctive comic persona on parodies and in disguises, nothing is neat. Even at Eurovision itself, where he was introduced to spending the summers at his wife’s paternal home in Sweden through a family “Eurovision party“, Ferrell puts a tripod on the two protagonists of his story on the way to the big night of the competition, placing them opposite in love dilemmas and unforgettable meetings: among them, the big favourite of the competition, the Russian “George Michael” Alexander Lemtov (played by the English star Dan Stevens stealing the show) and his close friend, Mita Xenakis pop star and representative of Greece in Eurovision.
With her Mediterranean charm, short mini dress and science fiction spectacle on stage singing “Masquerade”, Melissanthi Mahout reminds Eleni Foureira, second in the popular pan-European music competition with Cyprus in 2018. And yes, she had that in mind. the actors when they wrote the role, but Melissanthi did not imitate her. “In the beginning, the role was much smaller and in the process, it started to evolve and grow without knowing details – I assumed that because they had addressed a Greek actress, the character would represent Greece at Eurovision. At least that’s what I understood from the context, “she told ETHNOS.gr.
“So glittering in a suit, the role couldn’t help but be based on Foureira!” Mahut adds. “It’s never easy for me to talk about preparing for a role. In this case, I didn’t want to do anything recognizable, because I thought that in this piece I would be overwhelmed by the costume and that it would be easy to make references and comparisons with Eleni Foureira. The role was created by a combination of things: it was inspired by different people and emerged from the discussions in the auditions. It was built slowly, discussing with director David Dobkin and Dan Stevens.”
In the process, Melissanthi’s participation in the film developed so much that her name appeared fourth in the leading cast, after those of Farrell, McAdams and Stevens:
“Will Ferrell is a big fan of Eurovision, he has studied it a lot and the production did a lot of research. for each favourite, the supporters, the mistakes that are made, those who are petty or all have a lower appreciation. So they had a compass and they knew very well that Greece might not be a favourite, but it is beloved at Eurovision, as well as that England does not like it. This was the basis for my role to grow, but its development gradually emerged through my good relationship with Dan Stevens, when we began to discuss how the situation could get a little more complicated. And so the role developed. From a nice idea, it was extended to the script and happened to concern Greece as well “.
Rehearsals for Eurovision’s specialized choreography were held in England by choreographer Liam Laines. Equipped with experience from the dance theatre requirements of “Assassin’s Creed”, Melissanthi easily manoeuvred: “It was all a lot of fun and dancing. Difficulty zero. I was preparing for days with rehearsals to play the pop star and when I went on stage the last day and saw the lights and the people I couldn’t believe it. I said to those around me: I can really be a pop star! (s.s .: laughs) “.
For the challenge of big production and contact with Hollywood, the Greek-Canadian actress gives us her own unique feeling: “In the first meetings we had when we were talking about our characters, we all spent a lot of time together. We went out friendly, we talked, so when it came time to shoot our scenes, there was nothing stressful about contacting a star. I never felt anxious. Never. Will Ferrell and Rachel were happy as people, relaxed, special … My participation in the film is a shocking memory today. I keep the fact that it was done effortlessly, it was a nice job and the experience itself is something light and uncomplicated. It just went well. “