ANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
As part of an ‘In Conversation’ series titled ‘The Magnificent Artists’ at the 50th International Film Festival of India, Wagner Moura enlightened the audience about his experiences in the film industry.
Best known among the Indian audience for his role in ‘Narcos’ as the notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, Moura said: “Narcos was a great, great, great journey for me. Anywhere and everywhere I go, people have seen the show.”
He revealed that he never imagined the impact that the Netflix series would have worldwide. “I think ‘Narcos’ was the first series that made non-Spanish speaking viewers read subtitles,” he said adding that Netflix along with other streaming platforms really changed the way how audio-visuals are being perceived and how shows are consumed. “I think it is fascinating, that viewers from all over the world could watch something that they are not culturally connected with,” he said.
While filming the show, Moura committed wholly to his role. He gained weight to fit the profile of the Colombian drug kingpin, moved his family to Medellin and even went back to college to learn Spanish.
And although Brazil is isolated from the Spanish-speaking countries in South America, he said, as a Brazilian, he felt part of that culture. “I was working in Colombia, and working with actors from all these countries and talking about the drug trade, the narco traffic – which is something that still affects our daily life in South America. These are the countries that produce and export drugs and where the war on drugs is really taking place,” he said, adding that he learned a lot about it all just being there. “For the first time I felt like I belonged to something bigger, than just being Brazilian, I was Latin American,” he said.
And while he admitted that Pablo was a bad guy, as an actor, he said, you cannot show a character as a monster or as a saint or as good or bad. “People are more complex than that. We all have dark places in our soul as well as great, wonderful things. And Pablo was a very charismatic guy. It wasn’t that he was the richest narco dude, he was the most interesting. He didn’t want to be seen as just the bad guy. He wanted more. He wanted to be loved at the end of the day,” he said.
Moura added that he was so dedicated to the project that he even let go of the Hollywood hit, ‘The Magnificent Seven’. “The director was a very cool guy. He was like, ‘No we will wait for you’. But I was exhausted. I had just wrapped up the first season. And I had to lose weight for the film and gain weight to go back to ‘Narcos’, so I passed. I said I couldn’t do it,” said Moura.
The actor is currently based in Los Angeles, but he doesn’t have big Hollywood aspirations. “Of course Hollywood is big – it is so many things. It’s a great working opportunity, especially after ‘Narcos’, I was getting so many invitations but I am not interested in having the Hollywood sort of a ‘career’ thing.”
He further added that his main aim is to produce his own content and to make this content politically relevant. He wants “to make films about empathy and to make people see people as people.” ‘Marighella’ his directorial debut, is a step in this direction, he said, adding that the film highlights the political scenario in Brazil.
‘Marighella’ tells the story of Carlos Marighella, a Marxist guerrilla fighter during the beginning of Brazil’s military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Marighella was assassinated by the state in 1969.
The film, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last weekend, has already proved controversial in Brazil, and has been censored in the country, shared Moura. “We are living the worst moment of our history. It’s really bad. We elected a far right fascist president that praises dictatorship and praises torture,” he said.
Moura also produced and acted in a film about Brazil-born diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello who was killed in Iraq in 2003, that is set to release next year. “My goal is to produce movies and make movies about Latin people. Movies that don’t reinforce stereotypes. I have a very political and ambitious agenda in that sense,” he said.
Apart from these, Moura told the audience that he is looking forward to his next project, directing the second season of Netflix’s ‘Narcos: Mexico’, a spinoff of the hit franchise. “They invited me to direct it and I was like, ‘I don’t feel that I am a director – I am an actor who directed a film, but I know the show very well and I love the guys. So I think I am going to do it,” he said, adding that he will continue to fight to release ‘Marighella’ in Brazil.