“I definitely enjoy scaring people,” Mattea Conforti told Entertaining Options when asked about her latest role. Mattea plays Millie Manx, a vicious demon child, in AMC’s dark suspenseful drama, NOS4A2. NOS4A2 is based on Joe Hill’s book of the same name and stars Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek) as Charlie Manx and Ashleigh Cummings (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Puberty Blues) as Vic McQueen (aka “The Brat”).
NOS4A2 is an engrossing, character-driven series with heavy supernatural horror overtones. It is set in a world where “strong creatives” are capable of slicing through the fabric of reality to gain access to their own personal “inscape” — something that exists in their imagination — to make it real. To do this, the individual needs a “knife,” which could be anything from a pair of roller skates to a bag of Scrabble tiles. Each time the strong creative uses their knife, however, a toll is taken from that person, so the power must be used judiciously.
Charlie Manx is a complex, once-kind man who steals children away from their “cruel” parents. Using his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith, Manx transports the children to live forever in his inscape, Christmasland. Christmasland is a place where “every day is Christmas and unhappiness is against the law.”
Millie Manx is Charlie’s daughter. She is a monstrous little girl with a mouth full of conical fangs who wears a large sword in a sheath on her belt. She has a fondness for playing “Scissors for the Drifter,” a murderous game that never ends well for the adults who invade Christmasland.
Age-wise, Mattea Conforti may only be a young adolescent, but career-wise, she’s a veteran actor with an impressive array of both stage and screen credits.
“I actually started out as a competitive dancer,” Mattea informed. “I didn’t have much formal acting or voice training or really any experience with being in this industry.”
When she was just 9 years old, Conforti auditioned at an open call for a dance role in Broadway’s Matilda the Musical. She was surprised when they called her back with a different offer.
“The callback wasn’t for being part of the ensemble, it was for Matilda. I don’t really understand how I could have ever done that at such a young age. I guess when you really put your mind to something and you really believe in something, you can accomplish it.”
Mattea credits dancing for her early theatrical success.
“Dancing helped me perform on stage under pressure,” she explained. “It helped me to not just pick up choreography fast, it helped me with staging and blocking. It also helped me learn how to transfer notes into my brain very quickly.”
During the conversation, Mattea considered the possibility that her ability to quickly learn dance moves and routines may have also helped her to memorize the long and complex passages of dialogue that she needed to learn to play the lead role.
After Matilda the Musical, Mattea went on to play Young Anna in Disney’s Frozen. The change involved a hectic two-week transition when she was working on both shows at the same time.
“I was doing labs for Frozen during the day and performing in Matilda at night. That was a lot of work for me, but I had a very fun time doing both and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Developmental labs are an essential part of bringing a Broadway production to life. These are the crucial weeks before opening when creators and performers get together to work on fine tuning the dialogue, scenes, songs, and dances.
Besides the Broadway version of the massively popular story, Mattea auditioned for a role in Disney’s Frozen II. While some of the other actors made it a priority to record on high-end equipment, Mattea simply sat down inside her closet, focused on the performance, and recorded a voice memo for her audition.
When asked if playing Young Anna on Broadway made auditioning for Frozen II any easier, she replied, “It’s still just as hard. Some experience does help, but it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve had more experience with one show or less experience because every role is so different.”
One day, while Mattea was working on Frozen, Jennifer Lee, the Academy Award-winning writer and director of Frozen and Frozen II, as well as the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, approached Mattea.
“We were doing the labs for Frozen when Jennifer Lee actually came over to me. She pulled me over to the side and said, ‘We want you to know that we would be very happy if you would like to do Frozen II with us as Young Elsa.'”
Besides the aforementioned productions and feature film, Mattea has played opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Broadway’s Sunday in the Park with George. Additionally, she had a recurring role as Elisa Marie on the hit Starz series Power, playing opposite Jerry Ferrara and she appeared in The CW’s Gotham and Netflix’s The Good Cop. Mattea is also the voice of Moon on the animated series Ollie and Moon.
Although Mattea’s classmates are very supportive of her work, her role in Season 1 of AMC’s NOS4A2 was something that most were not permitted to watch. As a matter of fact, if she hadn’t been in it, Mattea would not have been allowed to watch the MA-rated show either.
“I’ve seen Jaws, which is definitely scary, but I’m not a big horror fan,” she admitted. “I can watch this show because I’m in it and I know the process of what happened. I know that it is not real, so that takes away the scary part for me and I can have a better time enjoying it.”
To be transformed from Mattea to Millie, the young actress had to spend roughly an hour in the makeup chair before filming each day. She expressed that it was a bit awkward to film the scene in Season 1 when she attacked the sheriff, but thought it was interesting to see how it all came together on screen.
“It was very fun to see how that scene turned out because it’s so different from when you are rehearsing it and when you are filming it. Once you see it on the big screen, it’s like ‘Wow, I never really realized how much work went into a scene like that.'”
When asked what it was like working with Zachary Quinto, she answered, “He’s a very fun person to be around! He can definitely be serious and professional when he has to be, but he can also joke around with us — the cast and crew — and make us all feel comfortable on set as well.”
When Season 2 of NOS4A2 begins at 10/9c on Sunday, June 21 (AMC and BBC America), Mattea said it will pick up “eight years after the first season ended and focus on Charlie’s desperation to get revenge on Vic McQueen. You’ll see a lot more of Millie Manx during this season. She’s going to take you on lots of journeys, which will keep you guessing on what’s going to happen next.”
Cover Photo: Laila Lockhart Kramer as Kid #3, Darby Camp as Haley Smith, Mattea Conforti as Millie Manx, Yamilah Saravong as Kid #4 in “NOS4A2” (Season 1, Episode 7) – Photo: Zach Dilgard/AMC