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April 2006
La Mujer De Mi Hermano: An Interview with Barbara Mori

La Mujer De Mi Hermano: An Interview with Barbara Mori

by Brad Balfour

April 17, 2006

LATIN AMERICAN ACTRESS BÁRBARA MORI REVEALS HERSELF IN HER SECOND FEATURE, LA MUJER DE MI HERMANO

As a Spanish language soap opera star, the beautiful Bárbara Mori is at the top of her game, being a huge star throughout Latin America. But in order for her to become the next big Latina star on the order of a Salma Hayek, she has had to make the transition to feature films.

The 28 year old telenovela actress began that effort with a lighthearted comedy but her second feature, "La Mujer De Mi Hermano " she stars in a serious drama (and performs in several nude scenes) with an underlying sexual theme that punctures some taboos for Latin America. As the stunning Zoë realizes that her 10 year-old marriage to Ignacio now lacks passion, she finds herself seduced by Gonzalo, her husband's brother. But the twists don't end there and the film challenges assumptions.


How different was the process of making this film from making a tele-novela?

BM: Well, it's a big difference. First of all I think that in the TV, you don't have, like an actress, you don't have the time to prepare every character, and you almost, all the time are fast everything. And in the film, you have a lot of time to prepare with the script, with the director, with the actors, and that's - I, that's what I like at the movies, you know, because I have the time, because I feel that it's good for me, like an actress.


What was it about this script, and this story that offered you the opportunity to make a feature film?

BM: Well, I think this story is wonderful because it's about this girl that has been married about 10 years with her husband, and is bored. One thing that I thought I would like to do this character, it was because it's totally different to me. She's a girl that she doesn't have courage, to live her life. She doesn't know how to take decisions, important decision in her life. And her marriage is boring, her husband is like, her sex life is not good. And she can't take decisions important. So that kind of things pushes her to start a relationship with her brother-in-law. It's a great story.


So it rang true for you. Apparently your fellow actor Manolo Cardona (who plays younger brother Gonzalo) knew several men who had gotten involved with their brother's wives. Did you know anybody who had been through this experience?

BM: No, I don't. But I just talked with the director, and through rehearsals with the director and actors, and by talking about every scene, working through all the script, and working together all the time, [I understood the situation].


Did it make it easier to do those sexy scenes in bed that you and Manolo knew each other before [they had been a couple years ago]?

BM: Maybe that helped, but you know with the other guy Christian Meier, [who plays the older brother] Ignacio, her husband, is also my friend in real life. I have been on three projects with him, so that helps too, you know.


How different was making this film from "Inspiración", the first feature film you made?

BM: It was totally different because the character I played in that other film, was an ugly girl, and she was in disguise, It's totally different to me physically. It was the first time that I did a character like that. It was amazing.


Your character Zoe is a woman that lacks courage and hides behind her husband. You seem very different from that.

BM: Of course. Absolutely.


You're a strong personality obviously, and very forthright. Are your characters in the soap operas more like you, or the character in the movie, or do you find they're also very different?

BM: I was interested in doing this character because she's totally different [from me], and when it's totally different, it's more of a challenge; you have to study more, prepare more, to be able to go with the character. It's more interesting then.


It's a challenge.

BM: Yeah, the characters in the film is more complex. Almost all the time, the characters in the soap operas are the same. You know, like crying, and everything. And in the film I have the opportunity to make different things, and that's interesting.


When you started acting, did you take lessons or just fall into it? You were young and beautiful [having started modeling at 14]but have you gone back and taken lessons, or taken them along the way?

BM: I was 18 when I started to study acting. And was studying only five months when I started to work; then I never stopped working.


If you were younger would it have been harder to do this character ho makes sense as an older and experienced woman.

BM: Maybe yes because you need experience to make the character better, deeper.


In a tele-novela, Zoe probably would have run off with the younger, hotter Gonzalo, but instead in the film it goes in the very opposite direction. I assume that's what you liked about the movie.

BM: Of course [that's what makes it interesting]. The subject is so important. We live in real world, so I think it's important.


Without giving away the story, the fun twist is that the responsible brother continues to be responsible, and that she can then have her child and not have to give it up because the irresponsible brother doesn't want to be responsible. We don't expect that at first. When you read the story, were you surprised at the ending?

BM: Yeah, I surprised. That's why I liked the story because I never thought about things happening that way.


Why do you think the film was so successful in South America?

BM: I don't know. Because the story is a wonderful story and that it touches on the subjects that we're all living like that. There are a lot of Ignacios around, a lot of Zoes, and a lot of Gonzalos. I think that the people feel like involved and identify with the characters. So I think that after the movie, maybe people go home and think about it.


So many Latino movies are about drugs, the dark side, crime and violence. In this film here are people whoa are rich, good looking with a beautiful home, different from these other characters in the other films. Do you think this movie has changed the impression of the new films.

BM: It is different from what we are used to seeing--films about drugs, violence, the poor, la pobresa, and everything like that. This is different from those Latin films. And I think this could work.


Right now so much is starting to change, like there is a new image of Latino people. Is that why this film was so successful in Latin America?

BM: Maybe people are sick and tired of the same thing in Latin films. People are tired about that, so I think this worked.


How did people in South America react to the homosexuality in the movie?

BM: Well, I think that it is important because there are a lot of people like that, living two lives like Ignacio. Living with his wife, and then living another life.


There's been a lot of South American films, from Brazilian and Argentina that dealt with homosexuality but this film deals with homosexuality in the context of bourgeoisie, and shows a conclusion not seen in a lot of films--with the man and the wife staying together. Did you see this as a surprise?

BM: I think so. When I read the script, I said I can't believe it, she stayed with him. I would never do that in my life, and I can't believe that, but maybe the people re going to be shocked, you because of the end, and that's good.


I thought the openness about the homosexuality, that they confront it, and she doesn't react as negatively about his homosexuality, was good. Have you had somebody that was involved with someone that was gay or in the closet?

BM: No, I know gay people but I didn't really know people who are openly bisexual. I know there's a lot but I don't know anyone like that.


In a number of South American countries, they are against abortion and homosexuality. Did you think that a movie like this might help change some of the anti-homosexual attitudes?

BM: Yeah, yeah, I hope so.


Were you worried about religious people who would get angry at you?

BM: Not yet. But I don't care about the church or things like that.


When director Ricardo de Montreuil and you came together on this film, how much freedom did he give you to develop the character?

BM: Well, this director is great, he's amazing because I had a great chemistry with him on the set. He talked with me a lot, especially when we filmed the scenes where I am naked. I was nervous. I was like, "Oh my god, what is happening." And he comes and talks to me, and told me everything is going to be okay, trust me, and please do it well. And I was like, okay, I'm will do it well. And I do it. When I saw the scenes it was great, I loved them.


Are you hoping to do more independent films like this. Anything planned?

BM: There's the opening of a new movie that I told you before, it's called "Pretending" and is going to be out this year. A Mexican director is working on a script for me in Mexico City right now.


Are you planning on doing films in English?

BM: I'm learning English, and working on it right now so that maybe I can do it in the future.


Have you gotten any offers?

BM: Not exactly. Just meetings with directors and casting directors.


Are you're going to move to New York?

BM: I don't know. Maybe.

 

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