Warning: This story contains spoilers about “Master of None” Season 2.
Actress Alessandra Mastronardi scored what could be the most important role of her career in a hotel restaurant in London.
It was in that same room that she had to admit to the man who would officially hire her weeks later – “Master of None” co-creator, writer and star Aziz Ansari – that she had no idea who he was.
“It was weird and funny at the same time because he didn’t know either – I didn’t know he was big in America and he didn’t know I was big in Italy,” Mastronardi told CNN in a recent interview.
Mastronardi, 31, plays Ansari’s on-screen love interest, Francesca, in the second season of “Master of None.”
She debuts in the first episode, playing a woman in Dev’s circle of Italian friends while he’s living in Modena.
Though the show sets up a possible missed-connection romance with a British native Dev meets in Italy, the season reveals that to be sort of a red herring.
Dev and Francesca’s friendship evolves during the season, but is complicated by the latter’s engagement to a man named Pino.
Mastronardi knew nothing of the world of “Master of None” when she joined the show, but studied it after her hour-long, improv-heavy audition with Ansari.
“I went home and I started watching the first season, and I literally watched it in one go,” she said. “I just finished it and said, ‘This guy is amazing.’”
A native of Italy – where, she points out, as if to plead for a little slack, Netflix only became available in October 2015 – Mastronardi has been living in London for two years. But her career started and continues to flourish Italy, where she began acting as a teenager.
Her breakout role was on a popular family dramedy called “I Cesaroni,” a part she credits for her fame in her home country.
Stateside, she’s probably best known for 2012’s “To Rome with Love,” from director Woody Allen.
“When we walked around the streets of Modena, people stopped her and asked for pictures,” co-creator Alan Yang recalled to CNN. “She was the big star there – no one knew who Aziz was.”
Working with Ansarii has proven to be one of the most rewarding moments in her career, Mastronardi said.
During scenes, he leaves room for actors to improv, adjust lines, and interpret moments. This is a “rare” quality among people who wear as many hats during a production as Ansari, Mastronardi said.
“Working with him and even watching him – he’s a really genuine and generous person,” she said. “For him to just let you be free to do whatever you want with your character is a massive compliment.”
The future for Dev and Francesca is murky – that’s partly because “Master of None” has not yet been officially been picked up for a third season by Netflix. (Though, it’s hard to imagine the buzzy program not receiving another season.)
It’s also unclear because that’s how the ending was designed.
In the final episode, an emotionally torn Francesca must choose whether to stay with Pino or try pursuing a relationship with Dev, who has made his romantic feelings clear to her.
The final scene features Dev and Francesca in a bed where they once platonically spent the night. Except in this moment, they’re both under the covers (clothed) and she’s not wearing an engagement ring.
“Definitely they’re together, but is it a dream? Is she dreaming? Is he dreaming? It’s a truthfully open end,” Mastronardi said.
She’s not sure what Ansari has planned for the two going forward. But Mastronardi is ready return to set if or when called upon.
“Aziz is very caring. He’s always there for you; he’s always at the [other] end of the phone,” she said. “It creates around him a sort of family issue. You don’t feel like you’re going on set to work, you feel like you’re going to have fun with your best friend, and it’s amazing.”