ABC Family’s hit show, Switched at Birth continues on Monday, February 11, with an episode called “Human/Need/Desire.” During a set visit last month as part of TCA 2013, BuddyTV caught up with Gilles Marini and Constance Marie, who play Angelo and Regina on the show, as they talked about learning sign language and the possibility of more passion between their characters. 

The impact of the show on the sign language community

Asked about what affects they’ve personally observed in regards to the show’s impact on the sign language community, Marie said, “Through the success of the show, a lot of students have told me that they have petitioned their high schools to have ASL as a second language. A lot of people have decided to become interpreters and take it in school and that’s just because of a show. That’s amazing to me.”

Marini added, “It’s been quite a bit of a revelation for me. [While] walking on the streets and I have had so many people from so many different countries [come up to me], because there is no show really around the world where the deaf community is a part of it. Once two girls from Spain came up to me and they said ‘thank you’ (signs the phrase), and I know [the sign for] ‘thank you.’ They were actually bi-lingual because the sign in Spanish isn’t the same. So it was incredible to see that. They were like ‘you don’t understand what you do for us.’ “

Even Marini’s children are learning how to sign. “They are actually watching on the TV and trying to figure it out. I cannot teach them anything, I will have to call Constance.” He said, remarking on his co-star’s skill with ASL. 

Marie replied, “If you have time, it’s really so easy to learn. Even the crew behind the scenes, they’ve begun signing ‘Happy Birthday’ to crew members on their birthdays.”

Sign language is sexy 

Marini remarked that it was the connection to the sign language community that has had a part in making the show so popular. “This is why the show is very popular. As soon as you watch the show, you grasp what it’s about: the deaf community and signing. I always say that it’s kind of very sexy. I watch the deaf actors and [see them have] a full-on fight or a full-on conversation with not a sound.”

“Marie added, “But you hear (slaps hands together), the hands hitting. We had a scene last season where there was four deaf people fighting and I was jumping in and trying to sign at the same time their hands are flying so fast, that someone clocked me in the hand and I thought ‘Oh my god, they’re so strong!’ “

Marie was quick to point out that her other co-stars are grasping ASL very well, too. “You know who’s doing really well right now is Leah Thompson,’ she said.”They are shooting a scene where there’s Shakespeare in ASL. That is unbelievable.”

Angelo and Regina in a passionate love scene?

Asked about what we might expect from their characters in the rest of season 2, Marini was very clear as to what he’d like to see. “I want to do a very passionate love scene,” he said. “I don’t want to fade out; I want [the audience] to see it.” Hearing his request, Marie joked, “I’m going to start dieting and working out right now.”

When some of us point out that this was a family show, Marie laughed and hugged Marini, excusing his enthusiasm for passion by saying, “He’s French!”

“Regina is constantly evolving.”

Though the jury’s still out on whether we’ll see any passion between Angelo and Regina, Marie did promise a lot of drama for her character. “Regina is constantly evolving. My character storyline is kicking my butt, in a good way. And because of Angelo getting someone else pregnant – she really hates that, especially when he’s rich now (laughs) – and not being able to communicate with her daughter because of the injury and not being able to do haircuts, she’s being pushed to the brink right now. But Regina does evolve.”

What do you think now that you’ve heard from Gilles Marini and Constance Marie about the rest of this season of Switched at Birth? Do you really think they’ll get that passionate love scene on the show? What do you think is going to happen with Regina this season?

Switched at Birth airs on Monday nights at 8/7C on ABC Family. 

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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)

Michelle Carlbert

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV