Mar 12, 2024

How Rudy Mancuso's 'love square' movie "Música" turned into real love story with Camila Mendes

Rudy Mancuso is taking the phrase "life imitates art" to a whole new level with his feature film debut Música.

The Vine-turned-YouTube star directed, co-wrote, and stars in the coming-of-age love story based on his own experience living with synesthesia, a neurological condition where he hears rhythms within everyday sounds. But that's not all: Mancuso also cast his real-life mother Maria to play his onscreen mother; he shot most of the movie in the neighborhood spots and house he grew up in; and while he had never met Riverdale alum Camila Mendes before casting her as his onscreen girlfriend, she actually became his real girlfriend over the course of filming.

"I met Cami on the film, and of course it was a dream come true," Mancuso tells Entertainment Weekly. "She ticked every single box that I could possibly tick for this character: she's Brazilian American, she's beautiful, she's immensely talented, and she really connected and personalized Isabella, her character, which was amazing because as we were shooting, our characters were having conversations that her and I were having conversations about in real life, so the lines would often blur between Rudy and Isabella and Rudy and Camila because of how personalized it was. Rudy and Isabella's connection translated to real life."

Música (premiering March 13 at SXSW and streaming April 4 on Prime Video) follows Rudy, a slightly fictionalized version of Mancuso as a soon-to-be college graduate and street performer living with his mom in Newark, N.J. and feeling stuck in every aspect of his life, from his seemingly futile passion for music and performing, to his long-term relationship with his girlfriend (Francesca Reale) who doesn't understand him, to his mother pressuring him to marry a Brazilian girl. But after a chance encounter with the enthralling Isabella (Mendes) at his local fish market, everything changes.

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