'Rome in Love's Italia Ricci Previews Amelia & Philip's 'Playful Relationship'

Meredith Jacobs
Q&A Philippe Antonello/Crown Media

Italia Ricci got to spend five weeks in Rome to film her new Hallmark Channel movie, Rome in Love, and it was a change from her Designated Survivor character, Emily Rhodes.

"Especially after playing Emily and having to deal with such dark, heavy stuff for five months, it was so lovely to spend five weeks in Rome getting to love and play so much joy and happiness and have fun — not that I wasn't having fun on Designated," Ricci told TV Insider. "It felt like I was on my own vacation filming this movie. I was so lucky to be part of it. I'm really glad to be a part of the Hallmark family."

Her character, Amelia Tate, is an unknown actress who lands the role of a lifetime in Rome — in a remake of Roman Holiday — and meets Philip (Peter Porte), an American journalist profiling her.

Here, Ricci previews Amelia's journey (and her own!) in Rome, relationship with Philip, and more.

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Tell me about your character and what brings her to Rome.

Italia Ricci: I play Amelia Tate, who is a small-town girl who lost both parents tragically very young and her life got realigned as far as her priorities were concerned. She had to stay home and take care of her sister instead of following her dreams of becoming an actress. She ends up doing community theater for fun and managing a coffee shop and becoming happy with that.

Then life throws a bit of a curveball and gives her another chance and she takes it. She's thrust on this adventure she never expected, and it's a whirlwind and it's exciting and it's scary. It's everything that she could have imagined and some things she couldn't have with lovely surprises.

(Philippe Antonello/Crown Media)

And how is Amelia handling and approaching everything, considering Italy is very different from her hometown?

The culture clash is pretty exciting. It was really fun because she's a total tourist, and she really doesn't try and hide it. She doesn't try and pretend to be anything that she isn't. So it's sweet that she gets to take Philip's hand and be led through this beautifully romantic city and all of its history and really absorb what's going on and what's happening to her and relish in the dream come true.

Can you talk about Amelia and Philip's first meeting and first impressions of each other, and how that changes as they spend time together?

They don't really meet, but the first time they lay eyes on each other is when he and Petruzzi bring a welcome cart to Amelia's room, which is actually the room Audrey Hepburn stayed in when she was filming Roman Holiday, so that was pretty cool to film in. They bring her a welcome cart, and she sort of is taken aback at this handsome gentleman who's bringing it in, so you see a little bit of the eyes there.

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Then they're formally introduced by the director of the remake of Roman Holiday, and he's introduced to her as a reporter so she gets taken aback and finds it curious and interesting and I think a little exciting. They already have a fun repertoire because she's now caught him in his day and night jobs, so to speak. It sets it up for them to have a very playful relationship.

What's Amelia's relationship like with her sister? Kathryn's her biggest supporter, right?

Yep, Kathryn is definitely Amelia's biggest supporter and fan, and Amelia doesn't really have anyone in Rome who she can keep herself grounded with because everything's happening so fast. It's wonderful and exciting, but it's a lot and she needs to process and digest it and freak out about it a little.

(Philippe Antonello/Crown Media)

It's really sweet, and even though she's her younger sister, at times she has some very grown-up advice, and they know how to handle each other. I don't have a sister, but I would hope if I did, the relationship would be similar.

Can you talk about filming the movie? Everything looks so beautiful.

Oh, it was stunning. I honestly had such an amazing time. It flew by. I couldn't believe how quickly it went. It was such a gorgeous setting, a perfect time of year. Every location was more breathtaking than the last. My parents got to come out, which was great, and they even were extras in the movie. I actually think they may have been cut out of it, but don't tell them that.

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It was a total, total dream. Everything that I'm seeing in the movie that you guys are seeing me see, no matter how many takes we did, it was still so breathtaking. It never got old. I could still go back and marvel it, and I've been to Italy tons of times now and it's such a gorgeous place.

What about it will draw in viewers who enjoy watching Hallmark?

It's a fairytale. It's a Hallmark movie. It is exactly what you want it to be. It's got sweetness. It's got fun. It's light. It's got love. It's charming. You feel good watching it. It's one of those movies that you can put on at any time and it will just put you in a good mood, and it just keeps you happy.

(Philippe Antonello/Crown Media)

Honestly, my mom lives and dies by Hallmark, so this one is for her and she couldn't be more excited about it, so I knew it was a good one when she read the script and got head over heels for it. I'm excited for everyone to see it.

What do you think makes this movie stand out from other Hallmark movies?

First of all, there's no Christmas or holiday in it. There's Roman Holiday, but there's no holiday holiday.

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There's no triangle. There's usually one villain. There's no real villain in this movie. The situation is the villain instead of there being a terrible boss or an ex. There's usually a person who ends up embarrassed in the movie, I think, in the ones I've seen anyway, which is great for those storylines, but I think this one doesn't have that.

Nobody's the bad guy, so you're rooting for everybody and enjoying watching the story unfold.

Rome in Love, Movie Premiere, Saturday, July 27, 9/8c, Hallmark Channel