‘The Undoing’: Who Is Matilda De Angelis, the Actor Who Plays Elena on the New HBO Series?

The Undoing stars award-winning Hollywood A-listers like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. But in her brief appearance on the HBO series, Matilda De Angelis managed to wow viewers with her captivating portrayal of Elena Alves. So who is De Angelis, and what else has she been in?

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the premiere episode of HBO’s The Undoing.]

Matilda De Angelis in 'The Undoing'
Matilda De Angelis in ‘The Undoing’ | Niko Tavernise/HBO

Matilda De Angelis is an Italian actor

De Angelis is a musician, singer, and actor who started her career in 2015 with Matteo Rovere’s Italian-language film, Italian Race. For her performance, the Italian actor received a David di Donatello Award nomination for Best Actress. And her single, “Seventeen,” which she sang and composed for the movie, earned a nod for Best Original Song. 

After Italian Race, De Angelis starred in several films, including The Prize, Reckless, and Divine. From 2015 to 2018, she had a recurring role as Ambra Scalvino on Anything Can Happen — the Italian TV adaptation of NBC’s Parenthood.

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In ‘The Undoing,’ Matilda De Angelis plays a mysterious young woman

As seen in the first episode of HBO’s The Undoing, De Angelis plays Elena Alves, a mother whose young son lands a scholarship at one of New York City’s most elite private schools. Elena joins the school’s fundraising committee, where she first encounters Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman).

A nude Elena then confronts Grace in her gym locker room. She doesn’t say much, but her intense demeanor leaves Grace wondering if she’s attracted to her. 

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And in her final scene in the episode, Elena encounters Grace at the school’s fundraiser gala. When Grace sees her in tears, she offers Elena her advice and support. But in return, Elena simply kisses Grace and then leaves. 

The next morning, Grace learns that Elena was murdered after leaving the party. She frantically calls her husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), to tell him the news, but he’s nowhere to be found. 

The actor visited New York City for the first time during filming

In an interview with W Magazine, De Angelis talked about what drew her to The Undoing. The 25-year-old actor revealed that Elena’s layered complexity had her hooked from the start. 

“The first time I read the scripts, I fell in love with the character of Elena,” De Angelis revealed. “She is armored, and she has an extremely sensual and at the same time unpredictable way of speaking and moving. Her fragility caught me. Beneath that appearance, there was a wounded and very lonely woman, and at the same time, there was an almost animal strength in her, a very strong and very moving maternal strength.”

While noting how daunting it was to join such a big American production, De Angelis said co-stars Kidman and Grant showed her “humility and kindness.” She also revealed that shooting the series brought her to New York City for the first time. 

“It was the first time I visited New York in my life,” she said. “I was very excited; New York is perhaps the most iconic city in the world. It was so exciting for me to walk around and get lost in the city. I kept thinking, “‘Oh, here was that scene from that movie!’ It was my favorite game.”

De Angelis’ character may have died in the first episode, but she’ll likely make appearances in flashback scenes throughout the season. New episodes of The Undoing air Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.