The Mexican actress Adriana Barraza is at a wonderful moment in her artistic and personal life. This thanks to her participation in the film 'Babel" and her best supporting actress nomination in 2006 for her role as Amelia, a Mexican nanny, in Alejandro González Iñarritu's film.
This week, Barraza's new production in English 'Henry Poole is Here' will be released. She plays the role of Esperanza, Henry Poole's nosey neighbor. That cast includes George López, Cheryl Hines and Radha Mitchell.
Choosing Barraza for this project, according to the writer, Albert Torres, was easy.
"Adriana was outstanding in 'Babel,'" said Torres. "I saw honesty in her that I have rarely seen in another actor."
"When I finished watching it, I ran out of the theater, I called Mark (Pellington, the director and executive producer) and I told him, 'If we ever make this movie, this is the woman we've been talking about.' There was no doubt in my mind."
Wilson has good words about Barraza's work.
"Adriana is very good at making you feel you are right there and then," said Wilson. "She has the same quality that Ben Kingsley or Gene Hackman has. You can feel more relaxed on camera because she gets you into the whole situation in a wonderful way. It has been one of my best working experiences."
Those are huge words for an actress who - although she has been successful in theater, film and soap operas in Mexico - was someone new to Hollywood three years ago.
Barraza, during a telephone interview last week, spoke about the movie 'Henry Poole is Here," her career and her life.
Q: How did you get to be part of this new production?
A: "I have a managing agency in the United States. They received the script and the proposal. I read it and the truth is that when read it, I saw an incredible character. I was fascinated."
Q: What do you thing about the comments made by actors such as Wilson?
A: "For me, it is an honor to have been working with people who I respect so much. First of all, I appreciate it. Secondly, I try to do my best, if that's the result, great."
Q: How did you prepare yourself for the role of Esperanza?
A: "You know, what's special is to try to give the character a sense of reality, from beginning to end. This type of character could easily fall into just being the nosey person or just being the person who is very religious that ends up being a fanatic. One must be very careful. Hence, what I always try to do with every character is to give them a sense of truth and reality and I try not to judge them, but rather try to understand them. It is a principle that I have been doing for many years; try to understand them to give them a human touch."
Q: Esperanza is a woman of faith, but is she religious?
A: The job of the writer is very clear and very complex. It is up to the actor. Try not to be the gossipy neighbor. She is a busybody. What happens is that, you will uncover that she has a very strong reason to get involved in the life of this guy so much. There is a moment where Henry tells her in a really bad way, "You want me to believe in order to keep your belief." She feels offended. She just wanted to help him. She explains in a very beautiful dialogue why she's there. (It's) because she has such a need, such a need for this miracle to occur. And her personal reason is that she asks God that the man she loves is well wherever he may be. That for me, when I read it, made her very human."
Q: You didn't start your career with the goal of making the crossover to Hollywood. How did all of that happen?
A: "The truth is that for many years, I didn't plan thing too much, in the sense of 'I want to go there.' Always, 'I want to go over there is trying to do the best I can right now.' As a consequence, I was offered to direct for television. I went to study to México to be able to direct in television. When I was given the opportunity (in 'Babel'), I never thought of what is known as the crossover. I never thought it. It wasn't within my plans.
"The only thing I thought of doing with 'Babel' is try, really, of not letting the director who believed in me down, try to make this incredible character that I had in my hands the best I could. The rest has been a consequence."I just finished working with Sam Remy. He gave me an amazing phrase. It says, "It's as though you didn't have an ego. Actress like 'I was already nominated (for an Oscar).' I told him, 'I do have a very big ego. What happens is that my ego is within myself.' I try to show the energy to be able to do it."
Q: How has your life changed after being nominated to an Oscar?
A: "The nomination to the Oscar - especially being such a popular award around the whole world, so recognized, so much that I have been watching it since I was little - has changed my life one hundred percent. Really, (my life) is before 'Babel,' after 'Babel.' Then, it is before the Oscar and after the Oscar. A wonderful thing that I was given with 'Babel' and the Oscar especially is to have the possibility to spend more time with my family. I can live like an actress. I can do things that I wasn't able to do (before), such as growth, pamper my daughter or my husband's daughters, my dog, walk on the streets where I live. It is incredible. That is a great, great gift. I have worked side by side with incredible actors, make beautiful stories, and be very happy every day."
Q: What suggestion do you have for the Latino actors who want to do the crossover?
A: "Look, if you have that as a goal, I thing that you have to have excellent discipline. I have a student who has been my student for four years, Alejandro Chabán. He has really made the crossover. Then comes the stigma that 'Since you do Latin soap operas, then you will never be able to get into American television.' He, without speaking any English, went to Los Ángeles and took classes. He is a young man who up to today has not stopped taking his class to perfect the English language, acting.
"The first thing you need is great discipline; place yourself where you're at, know the business, respect the business, take your classes, and always prepare yourself. And then, look, you can have all of that. What lies in your hands is preparation, don't ever let that go."