Inside Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso's 'Intense' On-Set Love Story: 'Chemistry from the Moment We Met' (Exclusive)

Mancuso and Mendes reflect on how their real-life relationship blossomed while filming the new Prime Video film 'Música'

<p>Hutton Supancic/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty </p> Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso at the premiere of "Música" as part of SXSW 2024

Hutton Supancic/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty

Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso at the premiere of "Música" as part of SXSW 2024

Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso’s love story found its roots in an unlikely place.

The actors star as love interests Isabella and Rudy in Música, a new Prime Video film that tells the largely autobiographical story of Mancuso’s life growing up in the Brazilian community in Ironbound, New Jersey.

Over the course of Mendes’ auditions and the weeks of production, Mancuso, 32, tells PEOPLE,  “Lines began to blur between Rudy and Isabella and Rudy and Cami."

“I don't think either of us expected it to be as intense and move as quickly as it did,” he says of their romance, as Mendes, 29, adds that their shared Brazilian culture played a role, too.

“It felt like I'd known him for so much longer than I had because we just understood things about each other that I think it's hard for other people to understand,” the Riverdale alum says.

The “familiarity” they shared right off the bat “accelerated things almost,” she admits.

Related: Camila Mendes Shares How She Realized Her 'Work Crush' on Boyfriend Rudy Mancuso Was the Real Deal (Exclusive)

The couple first met at Mendes’ screen test, where sparks flew instantly.

"We have this two-minute silent footage, because there was no audio on the day, this silent footage of us talking and interacting, and we have it all recorded so you can see that there's this exciting energy and this giddiness," Mendes recalls of their first meeting.

“It's safe to say there was chemistry from the moment we met and it certainly was visible onscreen,” Mancuso agrees.

<p>Amazon MGM Studios</p> Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso in 'Música'

Amazon MGM Studios

Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso in 'Música'

Música serves as an impressive debut from Mancuso, who co-wrote, directed, composed, choreographed and starred in it after having “seen the film in [his] head for years." He admits that he had his eye on Mendes for the role of Isabella, who transforms his character's life.

“There's no one more fitting for this role than Cami. That's the truth. She was always, I think, number one on the dream list,” he raves, prompting Mendes to sweetly encourage him to continue singing her praises.

“She ticked every box and more,” Mancuso continues, adding that when she came on board she “really helped elevate the material and she helped personalize the role and she helped refine the dialogue.”

Mendes calls her boyfriend’s explanation an “A+ answer” before asking, “What are you doing later? Should we get dinner?”

Related: Camila Mendes Says Riverdale Stars' Group Text Is Still 'Lit' and Dishes on What They Chat About (Exclusive)

The joke prompts the couple to reveal that dinner dates were one of the methods they used to “get to know each other better” while filming, though looking back, it was really just an excuse to spend more time together.

“The excuse was always, ‘Let's talk about the day,’ ” Mendes recalls.

“‘Let's prep for tomorrow. Let's get in character,’ " Mancuso adds. "Bulls---.”

<p>Alexander Tamargo/Getty </p> Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso at the "Música" premiere at Regal South Beach in Miami on March 27, 2024

Alexander Tamargo/Getty

Camila Mendes and Rudy Mancuso at the "Música" premiere at Regal South Beach in Miami on March 27, 2024

Their relationship — which officially began in July 2022, as Mendes revealed in a sweet anniversary post shared a year later — developed organically as filming continued.

“It worked out because we were getting to know each other off-set and we got to play out that dynamic in real-time, in front of the camera, as we got to know each other as our characters,” she says. “And so there was this natural kind of charismatic chemistry that existed in that scene.”

Aside from telling the story of his upbringing in the predominantly Brazilian community, the film also stars Mancuso’s real-life mother, Maria Mancuso, and was filmed in many of the real places he grew up visiting — including his childhood home.

“80% of what you saw in the film is either true or based on a real experience I've had,” he says. “These are all things that filmmakers dream of having in their projects, and I had the luxury of doing it on my first one.”

The former Vine star admits that Música was “a dream come true” for both him and Mendes.

“I don't think either of us anticipated just how personal and authentic to our actual lives that these characters were going to become. Like I said, the lines began to blur, but in a really beautiful way.”

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Música premieres on Prime Video on April 4.

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