When it came time to cast an AI in the FX murder mystery series “A Murder at the End of the World,” show creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij turned to a familiar voice: Edoardo Ballerini. While the name may not be immediately recognizable, you’ve no doubt heard Ballerini before – he’s an award-winning audiobook narrator whose work ranges from “War and Peace” to “Metamorphosis” to the Hebrew Bible.
“I started out wanting to be a writer,” Ballerini told TheWrap as part of the video series Bold Steps, presented by Johnnie Walker. “Then as I started watching plays, and I started watching films, I realized I wanted to be a part of this world where I could work with directors, I could work with screenwriters, I could work with costume designers, I could work with makeup artists.”
Ballerini, whose onscreen credits include “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire,” said he immediately sparked to the collaborative nature of filmmaking. But that collaboration was put to the test when the actors of SAG-AFTRA went on strike last year.
“The strike was painful,” he said, adding that the strike coincided with the release of “A Murder at the End of the World,” which meant he couldn’t promote it due to SAG’s rules of the strike. “I had a show that was coming out and of course, we weren’t allowed to promote it, which was frustrating, there was no doubt about it. It was frustrating to have to stay silent and say like, ‘Look, I have this great role in this great series, but I can’t tell you about it.’”
The work that Ballerini does in the audio space was not struck so he could continue making a living, and he was delighted to find that other actors looking for non-struck work during the strike reached out to him.
“A lot of people would write me or call me and say, ‘I need to get into this world too. I have bills to pay. Can you help me?,’” he explained. “One of the most satisfying moments of the strike for me was an actor friend of mine who said, ‘I just booked an audio book!’”
That collaboration that’s so key to making great art extended to the picket lines, and Ballerini said it was heartening to see so many extending a helping hand.
“That’s the great part of the solidarity among actors, like how can we help each other? But it was a painful time there’s no question about it,” he continued.
The strike ended just before “A Murder at the End of the World” premiered, allowing for a last-minute event to celebrate the release of one of Ballerini’s most high-profile roles to date.
“The strike ended the day before our premiere event, and so everybody sort of scrambled and came together and it was this moment where we all got to see each other again,” he said. “There were a lot of hugs, a lot of laughter, a lot of smiles. And it made me realize it is that collaborative nature of this industry that makes it special. It’s the people coming together to do something. So to have that moment, we got very lucky.”
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