The Cast and Characters of HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend”

Title Card for My Brilliant Friend.

The cast and characters of the HBO program My Brilliant Friend and a brief description of each character and their story (with spoilers).

The cast and characters of the HBO program My Brilliant Friend and a brief description of each character and their story (with spoilers).

Character descriptions and pictures used are changed as notable information is presented and better screenshots are taken. Especially if they represent their personality better.

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General Information




Saverio Costanzo, Elena Ferrante

First Aired


Groups & Organizations

  • L’Unita (3.3): A newspaper that Elena writes for

Notable Locations

  • Naples: Where the often referenced “Neighborhood” is

Terms To Know

  • ():

Other Noteworthy Information

  • What’s the date? (2.8): It’s around 1967
  • Wedding Date (3.3): May 17th is Elena’s wedding date
  • Time Passed (3.7): It has been 8 years since Elena published her book

Alba Rohrwacher, Ingrid Del Genio, Margherita Mazzucco, and Elisabetta De Palo As Elena


Elena is the lead character of My Brilliant Friend and through whose eyes and ears we are given any and all information. From what we learn in the first episode, she lives to be 60 years old, so no fear of death required, and as a kid, she was one of the brightest in her class. Also, we learn she had quite the crush on Nino, a boy in her community. It isn’t clear if, in the long run, they end up together.

Episode 4 Update

As a teenager, Elena struggles a bit with her physical appearance, due to pimples, and the boys she finds attractive seemingly not finding her alluring. However, with entering high school, she at least has her academic prowess to build up how she feels about herself. Even if, as she did throughout her younger years, struggle before she became top of her class.

Additional Information About Elena


To become was a verb I’d always been obsessed by, but I only realized it on that occasion. I wanted to become something, but I never knew what.
— Elena (3.6)

I was a young girl back then. And I didn’t realize that his wanting to transform me was the proof that he didn’t like me as I was.
— Elena (3.7)

Ludovica Nasti & Gaia Girace As Lila

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Le Bambole (The Dolls)”

Who Is Lila

Vibrant, rebellious, a bit of a time boy, uninhibited and highly intelligent, Lila seems like the type of girl who would have excelled if born in a later era. However, with being born before the feminist movement and the modern rights many women enjoy, she seems stifled. Yet, as the child we are introduced to in episode one, it seems she lets very little hold her back – including fear.

Episode 4 Update

While long separated from school, Lila remains a voracious reader to the point she still, at least when it comes to reading and writing, is ahead of Elena. However, unlike when they were children, Lila has no desire to compete with Elena in any shape or form. Her focus is upward mobility and knowledge. Something she hopes her brother, Rino, will be her partner in.

Additional Information About Lila

  • 2.7 Son is named Gennaro Rinuccio
  • Job (3.6): Head of Technology – System 3
  • Education (3.6): Only got up to 5th grade


In fairy tales you do what you want, in life, what you can.
— Lila (3.6)

Inside small things there’s something smaller that wants to burst out. Outside a big thing there’s something bigger that wants to keep it prisoner.
— Lila (2.1)

Valerio Laviano Saggese & Fabrizio Cottone As Alfonso


Alfonso is one of Don Achille’s children and is seen as one of the smartest boys in his class. He seems painfully shy and perhaps the black sheep of his family because of it. As of episode 4, that hasn’t necessarily changed.

Other Noteworthy Information

Antonio Pennarella As Don Achille

Don Achille (Antonio Pennarella) surprised to see Lila and Elena at his door.
Don Achille (Antonio Pennarella)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Le Bambole (The Dolls)”

Who Is Don Achille

Don Achille is a notorious loan shark and shadowy figure. He is someone people don’t talk about often and hold a fearful respect towards. Even children know to fear him and his son Stefano uses this to his advantage. Well, he tries to anyway.

Kristijan Di Giacomo & Giovanni Amura As Stefano

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 1 “Le Bambole (The Dolls)”

Don Achille’s son, and Alfonso’s older brother, exemplifies the fear and intimidation his father is known for. Something even girls like Lila aren’t safe from for just her making his brother feel a certain type of way leads her to be smacked around. Especially when he hears her smart mouth.

Episode 4 Update

Despite how he was as a child, it seems with age came maturity. Perhaps the idea of community as well as it seems he wishes for himself, and his family, to be seen as the opposite of the Solara family than the other horn of evil.

Alessandro Nardi & Francesco Serpico As Nino

Nino is a young man who is one of the top two students of his class, and Elena has a huge crush on him. Seemingly, he has feelings for her too since he claims he is going to marry her and asks, until that time comes, if they can date. Unfortunately, because of his father’s actions, he moves away and jeopardizes this future he planted in Elena’s head.

Episode 10 Update

Nino, as a teenager, continues to be quite the academic and even has become a writer. However, not like his father, he doesn’t find much value in poetry. Instead, he is more of a journalist.

Additional Information


Vincenzo Vaccaro & Giovanni Buselli As Enzo

Enzo isn’t the smartest of guys, surely his family isn’t rich by any sense of the word. However, he has a decent heart. In fact, it seems he’d love for his heart to belong to Lila but she doesn’t take him seriously at all.

Additional Information


Dora Romano As Maestra Oliviero

Maestra Oliviero (Dora Romano) looking at her classroom.

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

She is Elena and Lila’s teacher who is quite astounded and impressed by Lila’s intelligence. However, once she realizes she might be the only one truly invested, because Lila’s parents can’t afford to further her education, she puts Elena against her – since her family makes a way.

Gennaro Canonico As Alfredo

Alfredo (Gennaro Canonico) being taken away after, likely, being assumed to be a murderer.
Alfredo (Gennaro Canonico)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

He is the father of one of Elena and Lila’s classmates who used to be a locally well-known carpenter until he took a loan out from Don Achille. Once that happened, he basically lost everything when he couldn’t pay it back and publicly cursed the man. Something the Solara family might have taken advantage of.

Tommaso Rusciano & Gennaro De Stefano As Rino

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

Rino is Lila’s big brother who, whether we are talking about her as a kid or a middle-aged woman, cares deeply and worries about his sister. In fact, he might be one of the few who supports and encourages her education and to be who she is. Even if it rubs some the wrong way.

Episode 10 Update

During his teen years, Rino is no longer as supportive of his sister as he once was. In fact, he finds her brilliance annoying for it comes with her stubborness. Leading to them often fighting, including him calling her a b****, as well as siding with their father more and more.

Antonio Buonanno As Fernando

Fernando (Antonio Buonanno) yelling at Lila about her wanting to go to middle school.
Fernando (Antonio Buonanno): I don’t want to hear anymore about middle school!

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

Who Is Fernando

Lila’s dad, and a local shoemaker, Fernando is old school. Also, he is stressed out since he is using his business to support his kids, his wife’s parents, and his unwed sister. Making him not always on edge but with a daughter like Lila, being calm, cool, and collected sometimes is difficult. Especially since she isn’t one to take no for an answer.

Valentina Acca As Nunzia

Nunzia (Valentina Acca) telling the maestra that her family can't afford to get Lila tutoring.
Nunzia (Valentina Acca): I’m sorry, we can’t afford it.

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

Who Is Nunzia

Lila’s mom, and Fernando’s wife, she is very traditional in the sense of her being a quiet woman who doesn’t like rocking the boat too much. Whether that is due to being afraid of her husband isn’t clear.

Episode 10 Update

One of the reasons why Fernando is so upset in life, and Nunzia doesn’t speak out against him, is that she is too frail to work. With that, she lacks notable power in their household.

Luca Gallone As Vittorio

Vittorio (Luca Gallone) talking to Lila about school.
Vittorio (Luca Gallone): Without the teacher’s help you won’t make it?

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

Who Is Vittorio

Vittorio is Elena’s father who is a bit more progressive than Lila’s dad Fernando. While certainly not better off than him, he is willing to support Elena’s education. Especially since she is an A student. However, like Fernando, Vittorio can be violent. For Fernando, his act of violence is throwing Lila out the window. As for Vittorio? It is smacking his wife, Immacolata, when she frustrates him and when she pushes him to, beating Elena to the point of giving her a black eye.

Annarita Vitolo As Immacolata

Immacolata (Annarita Vitolo) looking at Elena.
Immacolata (Annarita Vitolo)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 2 “Soldi (The Money)”

Who Is Immacolata

Elena’s mother who seems to hate the fact her husband supports Elena going to school. One reason being that she could use the help, since Elena is one of her oldest – if not the oldest. Another reason could be that her father is willing to work harder to afford Elena’s education but seemingly other things the family could use, that doesn’t inspire him to find ways to make more cash.

Elvis Esposito As Marcello Solara

Marcello (Elvis Esposito) being threatened by Lila
Marcello (Elvis Esposito)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 3 “Le Metamorfosi (The Metamorphoses)”

Who Is Marcello

Arguably, Marcello is the future head of the Solara family. He is also a big-time flirt and seems to think he can have his way with any girl in the neighborhood. Including Lila who, as shown above, does not like him what so ever.

Alessio Gallo As Michele Solara

Michele (Alessio Gallo) coming out the car since Lila has a blade to his brother's throat.
Michele is Marcello’s muscle. He doesn’t say much, but whatever Marcello asks of him to do, he does as told. Consider the way he acts similar to how Stefano did as a child. Just with less words.

Other Noteworthy Information

Eduardo Scarpetta As Pasquale

Pasquale (Eduardo Scarpetta) in awe.
Pasquale (Eduardo Scarpetta)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 3 “Le Metamorfosi (The Metamorphoses)”

Who Is Pasquale

Paquale is Alfredo’s son who thinks his father’s alleged murder of Don Achille was justified. He also is a communist and has a crush on Lila. In fact, of all the guys in the neighborhood, he may have the best chance with her since he knows things she doesn’t, is a good dancer, and is passionate in ways the other guys aren’t.

Riccardo Palmieri As Gino

Gino (Riccardo Palmieri) asking Elena out.
The son of a pharmacist and Elena’s first boyfriend. Though she only dated him to have a boyfriend before Lila, not out of love.

Additional Information


Emanuele Valenti Plays Donato

Donato (Emanuele Valenti) laughing.
Donato (Emanuele Valenti)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 6 “Lisola”

Who Is Donato

Donato is Nino’s father and since leaving the neighborhood has become a famous writer. Unfortunately, he is also a bit of a womanizer and also a rapist. He sexually assaults Elena and it seems he believes him making people laugh and happy counteracts his rash and disgusting actions.

Nunzia Schiano Plays Nella

Nella (Nunzia Schiano) smiling towards Elena.

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 6 “Lisola”

Who Is Nella

Nella is Elena’s host one summer and she owns a little home which she rents out part of to make ends meet.

Christian Giroso Plays Antonio

Antonio (Christian Giroso) at the beach.
Antonio (Christian Giroso)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Fidanzati (The Fiances)”

Antonio is the oldest son of Melina and also becomes Elena’s second boyfriend. He is a mechanic by trade and is a bit handsy, a little frisky, but is useful to Elena when it comes to dealing with Donato.

Antonio Milo Plays Silvio

Silvio (Antonio Milo) checking out Fernando's shop.
Silvio (Antonio Milo)

First Noted In: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Fidanzati (The Fiances)”

The head of the Solara family isn’t too happy with Lila and Fernando for breaking Marcello’s engagement with Lila. He even threatens the shop that Fernando has, that is being expanded by Stefano. Yet, when there is money to be made, bygones are bygones and he sets aside his differences for greater income.

Pinuccia (Federica Sollazzo)

Pinuccia (Federica Sollazzo) talking to Lila.
Pinuccia (Federica Sollazzo)

Character Description

First Noted In – Season 2 Episode 1 “Chapter 9: The New Name”

Rino’s girlfriend at the beginning of the second season and also one of Stefano’s family members.

Additional Information About Pinuccia



Nadia (Giorgia Gargano)

Nadia (Giogia Gargano) talking to Elena.
Nadia (Giogia Gargano)

First Noted In – Season 2, Episode 3

Nino’s girlfriend, and Professor Galiano’s daughter, who is in love with Elena’s writing as much as her mother.


Maestra Galiano (Clotilde Sabatino)

Maestra Galiano (Clotilde Sabatino) looking off to the side.
Maestra Galiano (Clotilde Sabatino)

One of Elena’s teachers who takes not of her and pushes her to do better in school and meet her potential.

Additional Information About Maestra Galiano

Gigliola (Rosaria Langellotto)

Gigliola (Rosaria Langellotto) dealing with Lila doing as she pleases.
Gigliola (Rosaria Langellotto)

A young woman who shows signs of interest in Michele, but is often brushed off. Thus leading her to often scowl and get jealous of those who actually get his attention and praise.

Additional Information About Gigliola

Bruno (Francesco Russo)

Bruno (Francesco Russo) at the beach.
Bruno (Francesco Russo)

A rich kid who Elena and Lila meet through Nino while on vacation in Ischia.

Additional Information About Bruno


Franco Mari (Bruno Orlando)

Franco Mari (Bruno Orlando) taking a verbal exam.
Franco Mari (Bruno Orlando)

Elena’s boyfriend while at Normale University who is rich and gives Elena a multitude of gifts during their relationship – including loneliness when he abandons her.

Additional Information About Franco

Pietro (Matteo Cecchi)

Pietro (Matteo Cecchi) looking into Elena's eyes.
Pietro (Matteo Cecchi)

The son of Elena’s professor who is 22, an academic, takes note of her and dates her towards the end of the 2nd season.

Additional Information About Petro


Ada (Ulrike Migliaresi)

Ada (Ulrike Migliaresi) with a bruise on her face.
Ada (Ulrike Migliaresi)

First Noted In – Season 2 Episode 8 “Chapter 16: The Blue Fairy”

Brief Description

Someone who began as just another girl from the neighborhood but by the end of season two, becomes notable due to the person she ends up having a child with.

Additional Information About Ada




Silva (Maria Vittoria Dallasta)

Silva (Maria Vittoria Dallasta) talking to Elena about her life as a mother
Silva (Maria Vittoria Dallasta)

Silva is Mariarosa’s friend who is struggling with raising her child that she had with Nino, who is not helping with their son. 

Additional Information


Juan (Eduardo Rejoin)

Juan (Eduardo Rejoin) trying to have sex with Elena
Juan (Eduardo Rejoin)

Juan is a friend of Franco who often debates with him.

Additional Information


Mariarosa (Giulia Mazzarino)

Mariarosa (Giulia Mazzarino) convincing Elena to spend the night
Mariarosa (Giulia Mazzarino)

Mariarosa is Pietro’s sister and, like him, she is highly educated and adores Elena. 

Additional Information


Gennaro (Giuseppe Cortese)

Gennaro (Giuseppe Cortese) proud of his mother
Gennaro (Giuseppe Cortese)

Gennaro is Lila and Stefano’s son.

Additional Information


Mario (Eugenio Di Fraia)

Elena and Mario (Eugenio Di Fraia) swooning together
Elena and Mario (Eugenio Di Fraia)

Mario is an engineer that Elena met on her wedding day who, within one to two years, she had an affair with as her marriage to Pietro became unhappy.

Additional Information


Clelia (Rebecca Fanucchi)

Clelia is a girl from the neighborhood who helps Elena raise her daughters Dede and Elsa. 

Additional Information


Dede (Sofia Luchetti)

Dede (Sofia Luchetti) holding her baby sister Elsa
Dede (Sofia Luchetti) and Elsa

Dede is Pietro and Elena’s oldest child and eldest daughter.

Additional Information


Manuella Villa  (Imma Villa)

My Brilliant Friend Season 1 Episode 2 Soldi The Money 1

Manuella is the matriarch of the Solara family and turns 60 in season 3, episode 6.

Additional Information


Elisa (Francesca Montuori)

Elisa (Francesca Montuori) surprised to see her sister at her doorstep
Elisa (Francesca Montuori)

Elisa is one of Elena’s younger siblings who ends up with Marcello.

Additional Information


Eleonora (Chiara Celotto)

Eleonora (Chiara Celotto) hanging out with Elena
Eleonora (Chiara Celotto)

Eleonora is Nino’s wife, and mother of his son, who is the daughter of a lawyer, and has aspirations to become a lawyer herself – though she isn’t 100% sure if she’ll go down that path.

Additional Information


How Season 1 Ends of My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend Season 1 Episode 3 Le Metamorfosi (The Metamorphoses) - Teen Years title Card

How Does Season 1 End For Elena

After breaking Gino’s heart, and then Antonio, as well as offending Nino, Elena ends up alone without a boyfriend. Yet, with her being an ace at school, and her writing getting praise, she at least has her academic career to boost her spirits.

How Does Season 1 End For Lila

After freeing herself from a coerced engagement with Marcello, she marries Stefano under the impression she has control over him and he will not just make her happy but her family. However, in pursuit of money, Stefano makes peace with the Solara family and even allows Marcello to come to his wedding reception. Thus making Lila feel duped.

How Does Season 1 End For Alfonso

While no longer competing with Elena to be top of the class, his family is still quite proud of him and it seems he is going steady with Nino’s little sister.

How Does Season 1 End For Don Achille

He is dead.

How Does Season 1 End For Stefano

Stefano ends up married to Lila, who isn’t well-liked by his family since she mostly drains their funds, but he is happy.

How Does Season 1 End For Nino

While, for a good while, Nino has some kind of interest in Elena, between her being a better writer than him, and him dissing her at school, he seems done with her.

How Does Season 1 End For Enzo

While Enzo remains friends with the rest of the kids through the end of season 1, after becoming teenagers, the most notable thing about him is being Pasquale’s best friend.

How Does Season 1 End For Maestra Oliviero

Old, and sickly, Maestra Oliviero has become a bit of a mean old woman. One who praises Elena for pursuing a high school diploma but also is very judgemental of Lila since she didn’t continue. Also, Maestra doesn’t support Elena and Lila’s friendship and upon seeing them together, when Lile invites the Maestra to her wedding, she is as rude as ever.

How Does Season 1 End For Alfredo

After likely being framed for killing Don Achille, he is still in jail.

How Does Season 1 End For Rino

With Stefano investing in the shoe store, it seems Rino’s dreams of being a gentleman, someone with prestige and money, they might be coming true.

How Does Season 1 End For Fernando

After raising a tumultuous child who he has thrown out the window, threatened, and wanted to beat until she is within the grasp of death, she marries someone of note. Someone, Stefano, who invests in his business and makes it so the burden of marrying Nunzia is lifted from his shoulders.

How Does Season 1 End For Nunzia

As it always was, Nunzia’s state of being isn’t made to be of much consequence. She is alive, talked badly about by Fernando since she is too delicate to work, but seemingly strong enough to clean the home and bear children.

How Does Season 1 End For Vittorio

He is still gainfully employed and arguing with Immacolata about the way she treats Elena.

How Does Season 1 End For Immacolata

With her, as always, watching and criticizing Elena’s every move.

How Does Season 1 End For Marcello

Rejected by Lila, embarrassed in the neighborhood, his only counter is spreading a rumor about Lila giving him blowjobs and showing up to her reception in the shoes she tried to keep him from wearing. Both insulting and stunning her.

How Does Season 1 End For Michele

Marcello’s muscle is okay. He has himself a girlfriend, a new car after someone burns up his old one, and has little in his life to worry about.

How Does Season 1 End For Gino

After Elena breaks up with him he just fades into the back.

How Does Season 1 End For Donato

After sexually assaulting Lila, she uses her relationship with Antonio to scare Donato away. To the point he may never come back to the neighborhood again.

How Does Season 1 End For Nella

She likely is still renting out part of her home, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the beach.

How Does Season 1 End For Antonio

After realizing he got played by Elena, who truly wants Nino, he leaves her looking like a fool at Lila’s wedding reception.

How Does Season 1 End For Silvio

With Stefano making peace with him, he ends up the Speech Master for the business, takes Don Achille’s place at Stefano’s wedding, and has allowed the uniting of his family and Stefano’s in business. Thus squashing over a generation of passive-aggressive war.

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