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Best known for his role as PabloEscobar on the Netflix series ‘Narcos’, Wagner Moura wears many hats. The Brazilian journalist, director, musician, and actor was in Goa for the ongoing 50th International Film Festival of India. In conversation with NT BUZZ, he waxes eloquent about his journey

Pablo Escobar comes to Goa


Q. You started your career as a journalist. How did you make that transition to becoming an actor?

It’s interesting – because I actually started as an actor. I started acting when I was 15. But when I went to university, instead of going to acting school, I decided to do journalism simply because I was always fascinated by it. And I think that I learned a lot of tools that helped me. I worked as a journalist for a while but I never stopped working on stage.

Q. You have portrayed a lot of flawed and nuanced characters on screen and stage – from the role of Olavo in the soap opera ‘Tropical Paradise’, Hamlet in a Shakespearean production, and of course Pablo Escobar in ‘Narcos’. What is it that draws you to these roles?

I think the most important thing is the character. Of course you want to work with directors who have made their mark, or actors that you like. But most importantly, it’s about the character, what you are going to do with it, and what that character will teach me, whether it is something about myself, or something about the world, or something that I don’t know. So this is the general idea when I’m choosing my films.

Q. You have won several awards, gathered several accolades over the years – including a Golden Globe nomination for your role in ‘Narcos’. How has fame changed you – if at all?

I don’t really know, because I have been living with this. I have been a popular actor in Brazil for some time. Of course ‘Narcos’ made it bigger – today, people know me in different parts of the world. But I really feel that honestly – my life hasn’t changed that much. I’m a pretty normal dude.

Q. Owing to your job though, you must be on the road a lot. And as a family man, how do you strike a balance between your personal life and your career?

It’s really hard. Because I want to work and do the things that I love and am passionate about, and at the same time, I want to spend time with my family, I want to see my kids growing up. So finding a balance between these two is really hard. So I try to involve my family in every way I can. For example, for ‘Narcos’, because it was a big commitment I brought them to live in Colombia. But I cannot do this all the time – I cannot be uprooting them with every new role I get. At some point you kind of need to be alone, when you’re doing what you do. It is really a hard thing to balance, but I’m trying my best.

Q. You made your directorial debut with ‘Marighella’ this year.

Directing was so good. It gave me such a pleasure.

Q. You mentioned that “directing was easier than acting”.

I think acting is really hard – you are so lonely. Of course, you are with your peers and it’s great. But as an actor, you have to create and you have to do that alone. And you have to visit places in your soul that are really dark. On the other hand, directing is just putting people together, and making them do the best they can. It’s the quality of a director to extract the best of each person but it’s not that hard. When you cast the best actors, and have a great script, and the best crew – I think you would have to be a really bad director to make a bad movie.

Q. As an artist, what would you say is the role of art in society today?

I think art plays a really important role in society. It starts with making society see themselves for who they are. And I think that is the role of an artist too, to kind of, hold a mirror up to society. Sometimes the mirror is distorted, sometimes it’s a clear reflection of society itself. It is very important to see how we behave as individuals and as a society. However, the governments sometimes don’t want that to happen so they censor art. It is as if they want us to go through life with blinkers on.

(For more on his In Conversation

session ‘Magnificient Artists’ at IFFI turn to PG 3)

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