Interview with Victória Guerra (Portugal): “I can’t imagine myself being in a huge blockbuster”

Interview with Victória Guerra (Portugal): “I can’t imagine myself being in a huge blockbuster”

by February 20, 2017

Victoria Guerra

Victória Guerra (©Ralf Uhler for EFP)

The British-Portuguese actress Victória Guerra has starred in international productions such as “Cosmos” by the late Polish director Andrzej ?u?awski and “Casanova Variations” by Michael Sturminger, where she was cast alongside John Malkovich. Damian Harris’ “Wilde Wedding” will once more bring Guerra on the silver screen with the American actor this year. Her leading part in “Impossible Love” by António-Pedro Vasconcelos brought her two Best Actress Awards. She is also known for her appearances in several Portuguese TV series.

Sabine Kues talked to her about her experience in international productions, her work on TV, her relationship with her characters, Portuguese Cinema and what Shooting Stars means to her.



You already have a lot of experience with international film festivals thanks to productions like Cosmos by Andrzej ?u?awski, which was shown internationally. In which way is being part of Shooting Stars at the Berlinale different?

Victória Guerra: I do, but I must admit that it’s very different, because when you’re at a festival with a film, you are with a group of people that you have worked with for a long time and you finally get to show what you have worked so hard on. It’s like a proud family. In this sense, it is very different to now although the Shooting Stars group is absolutely amazing and we’re really good together.

In which way are you benefiting from the Shooting Stars program as such, apart from the promotion?

V.G.: It’s amazing being together, because we are all so different. But, we all have to do the same things. So, we’re all together in this, and that is a really amazing opportunity. I think it is really amazing that, suddenly, there is no competition. We all just know that we are so lucky to be here and that we are really proud of each other. We are quite overwhelmed with everything and we are just making the most of it.

You are already familiar with the international film industry. How was your experience working in the United States?

V.G.: I’ve been very lucky but all the international films I did – like Andrzej ?u?awski’s Cosmos and a small part in Benoît Jacquot’s Never Ever had Portuguese co-producers. So, I didn’t feel that it was very different. But, when I was in America, I did feel there was a big difference; the small budget film is a huge budget compared to Europe – at least, in Portugal. It was a very interesting experience because it’s a different country, it’s a different continent. So, obviously, the actors are different – the way they look at things, the way they think… Everything is different, so it was really good to have this experience.

Is the big Hollywood film industry something you aspire to or are you more intrigued by smaller productions?

V.G.: I wouldn’t say smaller – I like more the artistic European films. Obviously, I have preferences – I do prefer European Cinema, I must admit. But, obviously, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be in the Unites States and do an American film. And, that was great because I got an agent. But, I have to say, I do like Europe, European Cinema. I can’t imagine myself being in a huge blockbuster. It might happen, you never know…

What was it like working with Glenn Close and John Malkovich?

V.G.: Oh! They are so normal! You don’t even notice that you are working with Glenn Close and John Malkovich. Actually, I did the film because of John Malkovich. I did a film with him in Portugal and he was helping the director choose the cast. It was a huge young cast and he called me and asked: “Can you do a self-tape which I’ll show to the director?” which I did, and I got the part. The truth is, I didn’t really have to go to America to get that opportunity. I didn’t have to leave Portugal to get the opportunity to work with Andrzej ?u?awski. So, I must admit I’ve been very lucky. And, also, I’ve been just making the most of the opportunities that were coming up.

 You have a wide spectrum working in television, theater and films…

V.G.: I started very young in TV, on one of those young program series with kids. I was found on the street and they took street-casting photos and called me back to do an actual reading and I got the part, and that’s how I started in TV.

And, are you still working on TV?

V.G.: I’m still working on TV. It’s possible, because I can do both. Now, on the show I’m doing, I’m playing a schizophrenic, for example. There are really quite good parts. You know, sometimes you get a script for a film but it’s not that interesting; the story is not so interesting or the character might be very similar to something I’ve done before. I like to act, and there are very good projects on TV right now.

So, being able to develop a character for a longer time is something that attracts you?

 V.G.: Well, that’s true, because sometimes, like in the series I have now, we don’t receive all the episodes right away. We receive some at the beginning, some in the middle and then at the end. Whereas in film, you know the beginning, the middle and the end. You know where your character is going to go. In TV, in the case of the series I’m doing, you don’t. So, suddenly, imagine – it’s a ridiculous example – but, say, my character does not drink water but there is one episode, where she has this fixation with water – I have to find a way to make that believable and that’s really interesting. I like that. Besides, technically, Cinema is slower – which I prefer, obviously – but you learn a lot from the quick process of TV.

How do you perceive the film industry in Portugal as such, considering the success of films like Tabu by Miguel Gomes and the presence of Portuguese films at the current Berlinale?

V.G.: We have nine films here this year! It’s amazing! I think we have an amazing industry and I’m really, really proud of what is done. João Pedro Rodrigues won Best Director in Locarno with his film The Ornithologist and a Portuguese won Best Actor [Nuno Lopes for Saint George that screened in the Orizzonti section], so I’m very proud.

What are your plans for after Shooting Stars?

V.G.: I’m going to finish the series I’m doing in Portugal and then, I might shoot another film for which I am waiting on the dates. I want to continue doing what I love and if Shooting Stars opens any opportunities I’m going to make the most of it and grab them!

By Sabine Kues