MIPTV 2012: 'Jersey Shore's' Deena Nicole Cortese Shares Her 'Merple Purple' 'Finding Nemo' Aspirations
From the turnpike to the Cannes Croisette, the MTV realty series cast member and co-star Vinny Guadagino talk to THR about their first trip to the French Riviera and plans for the future.
Jersey Shore cast members Deena Nicole Cortese and Vinny Guadagnino took a detour from the New Jersey turnpike, braving bridges, tunnels and the Atlantic Ocean to appear at MIPTV at Cannes. While spending the last few months in Italy to shoot the series' latest season, Cortese and Guadagnino spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their stay in France and their advice for the cast of the upcoming domestic version of the show.
The Hollywood Reporter: Have you been to Cannes before?
Deena Nicole Cortese: It’s my first time. It’s beautiful. The Jersey shore is fun, but this is a sight to see.
Vinny Guadagnino: It’s a great starting point to be in Cannes if you’ve never been to France before. If you were going to America for the first time, you’d want to see NY, Miami or LA.
THR: And not the Jersey Shore?
Guadagnino: The Jersey Shore doesn’t represent America.
THR: What does it represent?
Cortese: I think it represents itself. It’s kind of like a little vacation.
Guadagnino: It’s cool to represent a way of life that everyone can relate to in every country. In a way, it’s work and, in a way, you’re still partying.
THR: So have you been checking out the party scene while you’re in town?
Cortese: Last night, we went out, we kinda like tried some places out… We went into the street, there were so many things going on.
Guadagnino: In the street? As opposed to in the water?
Cortese: Yeah, I felt like it was a popping street where everyone went on their Saturday night.
Guadagnino: It’s not a great time of year for this place, but I’d love to see more. In Italy, we went out every night. It was so much fun. Maybe when I go to Paris after this.
THR: What are you looking forward to in Paris?
Guadagnino: I’m a big fan of art. I draw myself. I just want to go to museums by day and see the Eiffel tower. I want to see the touristy things then go out at night.
THR: Do you find that the party scene is different in Europe?
Guadagnino: I feel like partying is international if you know how to do it the right way.
Cortese: The people are a little different, but partying is the same. Everyone wants to drink and have a good time.
THR: How do you feel about sharing screen time with your friends?
Cortese: I kinda feel like there’s really not a star in our show. We really just go in and are ourselves.
Guadagnino: When Snooki is on camera, it’s because she has a wild personality. She does certain things that we have to show, like for example, doing cartwheels drunk in a club with your thong hanging out?
THR: Now that’s she’s pregnant and presumably momentarily retired from doing cartwheels drunk in a club with her thong hanging out, how will that change the group dynamic?
Guadagnino: She is always interesting. Snooki is an interesting human no matter what she’s doing. She’ll just make this part of her personality. I think the show is going to work out. We are a family though, so when one of us is going through something serious we’re there for them.
Cortese: It’s not like she’s popping out the kid yet. Although I guess we’ll probably have to keep the house a little cleaner.
THR: Any tips for the French Vinny and Deena when NT1 produces a local format of the show?
Cortese: I think just be yourself and have a good time.
Guadagnino: I think the show should adapt our format and visuals, but when it comes to the characters, you have to just be yourself. I’d recommend not getting people who look like us or who are trying to be a certain type, but find different personalities that will clash.
THR: How would you describe the Jersey Shore to someone from another country who might not know much about it?
Guadagnino: The Jersey Shore is technically a location in New Jersey where people vacation and go to have fun with their families or friends. More so than that, it has a distinct group of people that it attracts usually from the region of NY, NJ or Connecticut who are different from almost anybody in the United States. That one little area is unlike anything else. That’s what makes the show so appealing.
THR: Have you always been attached to the shore?
Guadagnino: I thought it was the filthiest place on earth. The beaches aren’t clean. It started to become appealing when I was 21.
Cortese: I loved it always. It’s home for me. It’s completely different. I travel a lot now and every place I go is different. We’re all different at the shore, but we enjoy the same things and we even look the same.You have to be down there to get it.
Guadagnino: Even in Europe people have a certain European swagger to them that makes them relate to each other.
THR: Now that the show is airing abroad, have you been recognized here in Cannes yet?
Guadagnino: A little bit, but the demographic this time of year isn’t a core demographic. I haven’t seen any young girls yet. I always find it amazing if anyone knows me anywhere.
THR: How has your celebrity at home changed your lives?
Cortese: It’s surreal. Just people knowing who we are and liking us for who we are is surreal to me – because I’m an idiot sometimes. It’s awesome. People I used to be fans of are now fans of me.
Guadagnino: I get to do cool things I never would have dreamed of. I’m a huge NBA basketball fan. Before, if I even sat 10 rows back, that was a special occasion. Now I’m invited courtside every game -- it's really surreal. I know it's just a basketball game, but it’s not just about the basketball, it's about who I’m sitting next to and who are my peers now.
THR: Is the “you” we’re seeing on the show genuine or do you put on a show for the cameras?
Cortese: In the house, I’m just like screw it, I’m going to be me and I don’t care if people like me or not. Then there is another side of me that everyone doesn’t see. I have a softer side. I’m a very genuine person and I’m goodhearted, but partywise, yeah that’s me.
Guadagnino: The way we film makes it hard to ham it up for the camera. I’d have to do that all the time. I’m not gonna lie, I know there’s a camera on me so I might do something funny for a laugh, but you’d drive yourself nuts trying to be on all the time. It’s about what’s happening in that moment. It’s not what I do 24 hours a day for the rest of the year. If you’re in a house with 8 people for 2 months, no cell phone, nothing but each other and alcohol, what would you do?
THR: When you see the edited version of the show do you ever have moments you wish the cameras hadn’t caught?
Cortese: There were moments I was like “oh dammit.” but you know you did it to yourself. Like forgetting to put on underwear for example. But I did it and there was nothing I could do.
Guadagnino: There’s nothing that made me say “OMG.” It’s just real life.
THR: And what are your aspirations outside of the show?
Guadagnino: I love acting. I was doing it before the show. Slowly, I’m doing little acting roles, a lot of scripted projects since this happened. Even just to be on set with directors would be great. For example, I’d be a soldier in Inglorious Basterds who stands there with one line just to be on set with [Quentin] Tarantino. Hey, I’m being realistic. I’m not asking to be the star of a movie. I’ve always wanted to be an actor I can’t hide it. It’s definitely different from the Jersey shore.
THR: But do you worry your image from Jersey Shore will prevent you from taking on more serious roles as an actor?
Guadagnino: I think any reality star should ask themselves that question if they want to be an actor. For me right now its only helped me thank god. I’m going to be in a corny scifi movie called Jersey Shore Shark Attack and you know, I’ve been on 90210 and The Hard Times of RJ Berger. I like TV, if I can make the transition to movies, like Kid Cudi, why not? I wrote a book too.
THR: What about you, Deena?
Cortese: Right now I’m just figuring it out. I like doing voiceovers for cartoons. I’d love to be in a Finding Nemo sequel. I’d be a little seahorse and I’d be named Merple.
THR: Why Merple?
Cortese: Because I like the word “merp” - it could really mean anything. I picture the seahorse as purple.
THR: Merple the purple seahorse?
Cortese: Yes! Merple the purple seahorse.
THR: And if Merple doesn’t work out?
Cortese: I like radio. I just launched a hair product line. I’m seeing where I fit.
THR: Have you sampled the regional cuisine while you’re here?
Guadagnino: I like fish so I like beachy towns. I had sea bream. It was good, you don’t find that in America.
Cortese: I just got beef. I had the option to eat frogs legs for that meal, but I didn’t.
Guadagnino: I’ve had frogs legs in Florida and I am not a fan.
Cortese: They wanted me to try duck liver, but I was a little nervous.