Secuestro Express - Mia Maestro interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
MIA Maestro, the Argentine actress who is best known to mainstream audiences for her roles in TV’s Alias and the recent Poseidon, talks about the traumas she faced while filming Venezuelan kidnap drama, Secuestro Express.
Q. You’ve appeared in both Poseidon and Secuestro Express recently which both feature a woman in peril. But how did they differ?
A. The films couldn’t be more polar opposites because of the budget and the nature of the films. But somehow there is a connection between them. Carla in Secuestro Express and Elena in Poseidon are both in a situation where they could die at any moment, so there’s an emotional feeling that they go through which is pretty similar.
Secuestro was a little bit tougher because we were shooting in Caracas, which was and still is going through a major social revolution. There was a lot of violence around us and it was hard to go home and have that violence around you as an every day context.
Poseidon was also a complete hell to shoot because of the water. But then we were shooting in a Warner Bros studio so we were pretty much contained and it was easy to step out from fiction to real-life. In Secuestro it was not, it just continued all the time. Plus, we were shooting nights and that messed you up completely because your whole day was upside down.
Q. How scared were you while making Secuestro Express because you were working with mostly unprofessional actors who perhaps took their role a little too far at times?
A. Well, it’s interesting because when working with fellow actors if a scene is more aggressive, you try to compensate that in your time off. You know that if you don’t balance your energy, the character might take over your life. In a movie like Secuestro, that’s so intense, it can be tricky. It was also pretty frightening because of the context of the country and the subject matter of the film.
The truth is, the guys would just do the very aggressive scenes and then just look at me with bad eyes in between takes instead of asking if I was ok, or whether they’d hurt me. They would never walk a scene off, or something like that. Because it was their first time acting, sometimes they would hit me really hard in the scene and they’d cut the scene and there would be silence. I would feel bruised all over because sometimes they went a little bit too far and the silence was just odd. Yet it was also difficult to say anything like ‘you’re hurting my arm’, because it would go the other way and on the following day they wouldn’t even touch me. They didn’t know how to balance it out. But having said that, they all give such great performances and Jonathan [the director] was on top of it. He was a good mediator.
Q. Do you get on with them now?
A. Oh, I adore them. Even though the movie is over I get so happy when I see them. Especially with Carlos Julio Molina [the actor who plays Trece], we talk on the phone and text all the time. But it was tough during shooting.
Q. I guess the response to the movie has made it all worthwile because it’s the most successful film in Venezuelan history?
A. It is.
Q. And it’s had repercussions because the government aren’t happy about it. So it’s clearly achieving its objective in terms of making people aware?
A. We just don’t know why the government is upset about the movie because while it reflects what’s going on in Venezuela, everyone knows that it has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in Latin America. Everyone knows that Caracas is a pretty violent city. So I think the government has decided to be against the movie with no real argument to back that up. I think they’re upset because Jonathan used a clip where it shows one of the deputies shooting at some people, which actually happened. Everyone in the world saw that clip, so it’s nothing new. But Jonathan is on trial right now and had to leave Venezuela and it seems to have got a little bit out of control.
Q. Do you find that frustrating?
A. Well it is because the film attempts to do what Hugo Chávez (President of Venezuela] wants to do, allegedly, and fix the problem. The movie serves as a metaphor for these two factions of society which never get to have a conversation with each other. If they could, it would be the beginning of remediating something, or fixing something that’s completely broken. I think that would be the first step in fixing a country that has so many sociological, economical and political differences like Venezuela. It’s one the wealthiest countries in the world because of the amount of oils it has and yet the gap between the wealthy middle class and the poor is huge. I don’t think there’s many countries that have that gap.
So I really don’t know why the government is so against the film. It has got so many people that had never been to a movie theatre to go. That’s so strange to think that nowadays there are still people that have never gone to the movies. But there are a lot of people in Venezuela that hadn’t – yet this movie reached those people and got them out.
I also have some friends who were telling me that some people from shanty towns would come to the more posh part of the city to see the film. So in the theatre itself, you would have this mix of people which was so wonderful. The movie has succeeded in bringing people together that would never normally be together. It’s like the beginning of acknowledging the problem that Venezuelan society has. You would expect that’s what the government wants as well, yet it’s not.