Are Haley & Isabella In ‘Musica’ Based On Rudy Mancuso’s Real-Life Girlfriends?


Musica is based on the life of Rudy Mancuso, the talented artist who came to the limelight in 2013 when he created his first short video on Vine. Rudy plays himself in the film, and he is ably supported by the rest of the cast, which includes Camila Mendes, Francesca Reale, and his real-life mother, Maria Mancuso. It is always fascinating to see a project where one man takes on multiple responsibilities, and it is even more gratifying to see them execute it perfectly. Music is innovative, it is entertaining, and it leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit hopeful. In the film, we see that Rudy dated two girls but unfortunately didn’t end up with both of them. Considering the film is based on his own life, it is obvious for the audience to speculate if any aspect of those relationships was inspired by real-life events. So, let’s find out how much of what was shown in the film is based on real-life events and what portion of it is a figment of the imagination of the creators.

Spoiler Alert

Why did Rudy part ways with Haley? 

The character of Haley is not exactly based on a specific person, though it could be said that Rudy Mancuso took inspiration from real-life events and then amalgamated it with fictional plot points. We saw in the film that, at first, Rudy was dating Haley, and he often used to tell people that she was the only girl he had ever been with. Rudy was suffering from synesthesia (in real life, too), and there were a lot of times when he lost his focus and zoned out, listening to the noises around him. Obviously, that irked Haley, but that was not the main reason for her to break up with him. Haley wanted Rudy to do a proper white-collar job so that she could boast about him to her parents. She was somewhere ashamed of whatever creative work he did. Rudy, at that time, used to do puppet shows on the subway, and he believed that no work was big or small. He liked making music and being a puppeteer, and it was something that he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Haley had told her parents all sorts of lies about what Rudy did, and for the longest time, the latter didn’t have any clue about it. After breaking up for the first time, Haley tried to come back once again in Rudy’s life.

Rudy, at that point in time, was seeing Isabella, but he still couldn’t say no to Haley to her face. He knew that she was not the person he wanted to end up with, but he just couldn’t tell her the truth. He went and met Haley’s parents too around that time, and that’s when he realized how embarrassed she felt about telling her parents about what he did, which is why she had made up all sorts of lies. Before Rudy could confront Haley and tell her that he didn’t want to be with her, it was too late. We don’t know if such a situation arrived in the creator’s real life, too, but it was a mess for sure that had repercussions on Rudy’s life. Haley was very imposing, and she never tried to understand Rudy’s viewpoint. She never gave him the validation that he desperately craved. He already felt that he was different from others and at times he didn’t feel confident about his own capabilities. Haley never acknowledged the fact that it was fine to think outside the box and not take on a normal job. 

Is Isabella’s character based on a real-life person? 

Rudy Mancuso has clearly stated that Isabella’s character is not based on any of his past partners. Rudy says that even though the instances shown between him and the character Isabella didn’t happen in his life, it is a sort of ideation of what the woman of his dreams would look like. In the film, Isabella realizes that Rudy is not like others, and there are times when his mind goes to a different place altogether. She asked him about it, and then, very skeptically, he told her how he could hear rhythms in the noises around him. He tried to make her also hear it, but Isabella couldn’t. But Rudy wasn’t ridiculed by her; instead, she told him that even though she couldn’t hear what he did, she believed in his feelings. Isabella could see the excitement in Rudy’s eyes when he asked her to hear the sounds, and at that moment, she knew that he was not lying.

Isabella was probably the first person (in the film) who did not find it absurd that Rudy wanted to do something so unconventional in his life. She, in fact, told him that he had the talent and the dedication to do it. She told him to take his puppeteering a step higher and mesmerize the world with his capabilities. Rudy apologized for his mistake, as he knew that somewhere, Isabella felt betrayed. He tried to make her understand that he never wanted to hurt her. But probably it was too late. Isabella forgave him, but she decided that it was best for him to focus on his career and get some clarity about what he actually wanted. At the end of Musica, we saw that Isabella and Rudy didn’t end up together, though the former always cheered for him and prayed that he achieved whatever he wanted to in his life.

The fun fact here is that Rudy Mancuso is currently dating Camila Mendes, who portrays the character of Isabella on screen. Mancuso went on record to say that Camila and him, in real life, did not meet the way they were portrayed in the film and that the character of Isabella is a work of fiction. Camila and Rudy met when the former came on board for Musica. The couple has been going strong since then, and they are hopeful that this heartfelt venture will strike a chord with their audience. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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