Roma Maffia is always looking to challenge herself as an actress. She’s played big characters on the stage and been in many different types of movies and television shows, but she has never played a character like Hazel Diaz on CBS’s “Bull”. Diaz, is a drug dealer who has avoided jail for years thanks to her ability to feign schizophrenia and mental illness.
“Bull” returns with an all new episode on Tuesday night and Maffia talked with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about the show, her career and the impact that Ron Howard had on her.
DJ Sixsmith: How did your acting career begin?
Roma Maffia: I went to college and would’ve stayed in college forever doing theater. I had to leave because I was never going to graduate. I did what actors in New York do. I did plays and more plays, waited tables, was a bartender and that’s pretty much how my career began and how my work in the theater began. I attribute a lot of my start to Ron Howard. I had done a small bit on a film, but it was “The Paper” with Ron Howard that was very helpful to my career. Then his first Associate Director, unbeknownst to me had recommended me to the casting director of “Disclosure”, which was another really big help. I think those were the big leaps I made.
DS: You mentioned Ron Howard. What was the biggest lesson you learned from him?
RM: I had asked a favor of Ron Howard and I remember him saying yes to the favor. I remember his attitude was I’m going to take care of this immediately because immediacy is how you take care of things. I thought that was a really great way to do business.
DS: You play Hazel Diaz on “Bull” and she is a very interesting character. What is the most challenging component of playing this character?
RM: This particular character was feigning something that she wanted the audience to believe. Then they are going to find out she’s feigning it and maybe there’s a question that she’s not feigning it as much as she would like to be. It was around that question of her mental illness that I actually thought was the most challenging part of that role.
DS: How does your experience will Bull compare to other shows and movies you’ve done?
RM: The character. In theater I get to play bigger and more challenging character, but Hazel Diaz was the most challenging character I’ve ever had to play. It was so exciting and fun for me. Usually, I’m the one with the answers. I know the law, so it was so fun to play someone on the other side of the tracks. Not being the good one was great fun.
DS: What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
RM: How proud my mother is of my career. Her pride is one of my favorite things about my career.
DS: When people watch you on the show this week, what do you want them to walk away thinking?
RM: I love Michael Weatherly. I want them to walk away thinking the show is the sh*t. I don’t think my character gets to exhibit a lot of empathy. I don’t think there’s a reason to feel empathetic towards her in this part of her life, but I did a good job.
Catch Roma on a brand new episode of “Bull” Tuesday at 9pm EST/PST on CBS.