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'Warrior Nun' Mother Superion role was Sylvia De Fanti's destiny

Sylvia De Fanti plays Mother Superion on Netflix's Warrior Nun. Photo courtesy of Netflix
Sylvia De Fanti plays Mother Superion on Netflix's "Warrior Nun." Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, July 2 (UPI) -- Netflix's new series Warrior Nun tells the story of an ancient order that has been battling demons for the church. Italian actor Sylvia De Fanti plays the warrior nuns' Mother Superion, training them for battle.

She said angels and demons have touched her life in a prior role and a business endeavor.

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On the Italian series Incantesimo in 2007, De Fanti played Dr. Anna Archangelo in the hospital drama. Her archangel namesake might have foreshadowed her latest role.

De Fanti also maintains an independent art space in Italy. She co-founded Angelo Mai, named after a 19th-century cardinal whose name translates to "never angel."

"Mother Superion is in my destiny with all these angels around," De Fanti told UPI in a phone interview from her home in Italy.

Warrior Nun is based on the Warrior Nun Areala comic book published in December 1994. De Fanti said author Ben Dunn's original conception of Mother Superion was different from hers.

"She's blind [in the comic]," De Fanti said. "She has glasses, like oculus. It's almost like the ones that pilots used to wear in the '40s. And, she also has a story that I'm not sure is going to match completely with the choices that have been made in the script."

In the Netflix adaptation, Mother Superion can see and walks with a stick. De Fanti said she made some physical choices in her audition that remained in the filmed version of the show. She slowed her breathing and used her posture to represent the weight of her duties.

"Because of the stick, but also because of the moral weight, I try to translate that in the body to embody that feeling of gravitas," De Fanti said.

Netflix's Mother Superion also has a scar over her right eye. De Fanti said viewers won't find out how she got her scar in the first season of Warrior Nun. The actor does not yet know, though she suspects she got that scar on the job many years ago.

"It's really still a mystery," she said.

Mother Superion does not enter until Episode 3 of Warrior Nun. It begins when Ava (Alba Baptista) is brought back to life by a halo -- a circular artifact that attaches itself to her back. In life, Ava was paralyzed, but the halo allows her to walk and gives her enhanced strength and the ability to move through walls.

The order has been looking for the new recipient of the halo. It brings her to the convent, where Mother Superion tries to train Ava in the ways of the warrior nuns. De Fanti says Mother Superion is most focused on emotionally preparing Ava for the battles she will face.

"You see, all these young women are very different," De Fanti said. "A trainer must really value the differences and the specificities."

Warrior Nun premieres Thursday on Netflix.

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