This 30-year-old New Zealander with a boisterous, electric mind is credited with the ultimate showbusiness feat: having resurrected a genre, the romantic comedy, who had been waiting for years, if not decades, for some brave man to restore his honor. With the two-season series ‘Starstruck’ (HBOMax), Rose Matafeo, protagonist and creator, has become something like the flamboyant daughter that the writer and screenwriter Nora Ephron and actress Meg Ryan never had. And what is best for her, in the absolutist queen of word of mouth thanks to this fiction in which a girl on the verge of 30 who joins shit-jobs in London and who does not meet any of the requirements of the Instagram court has a one night stand with an action movie star… with no idea who he is. “You are a star! It can’t be that he consented to oral sex!” she exclaims the next morning. “Consent? You asked me!” he replies (Nikesh Patel), a ‘partner’ with discreet humor and unexpected tenderness.
Their difference in status, one of the plot points, is embarrassingly detonated when, on their second date, she bumps into a group of paparazzi while leaving his house. “You’re safe, they thought it was the cleaner. The speed with which they thought it was quite offensive,” says Jessie, allergic to romance and celebrity culture, to Tom, in a respite from an emotional labyrinth that in the second season explores what can happen to the characters of the genre after the credits. “There is something sexy about making a man laugh at a woman’s jokes, something that is still rare in a romantic comedy and in life in general,” Matafeo said days ago in ‘The New Yorker’.
From New Zealand to London
Experience in the field is not lacking. With a Scottish-Croatian mother and a Samoan father -both, attention, from the Rastafarian church-, at 13 years old she already wanted to be a comedian, and at 17 she watched ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ every week while preparing to be crowned an emerging value in New Zealand Comedy Festival. After verifying that in the stand-up clubs women were pure exoticism, he went to Londons with her boyfriend at the time, James Acaster.
The thing, against all odds, worked. One of his plays, ‘Horndog’, won the Edinburgh Festival Comedy Award. Then, along with two colleagues – the screenwriter Alice Snedden and the actress emma sidi– molded ‘Starstruck’, whose filming was postponed to fall 2020 due to covid. The rest is history. “I’m ethnically ambiguous and I have curly hair,” says Matafeo, with a series and a play in her portfolio, “so she was called to be the character who says something funny and then disappears.” It’s more. Her role also seems to remind millions of teenagers suffocated by aesthetic pressure that, beyond oppressive canons, life can be very interesting.