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Maribel Verdu's World

The star of Francis Ford Coppola’s 'Tetro' talks about acting in two languages and the complex story line of her latest cinema offering

Maribel Verdu has been famous in the Spanish-speaking world since she was a child. She became known to a worldwide audience through the film ‘E Mama Tu Tambien’, which also starred Gael Garcia Bernal and subsequently she then went on to take a leading role in the Oscar winning 'Pan’s Labyrinth'. Her latest role was in Francis Ford Coppola’s 'Tetro', alongside Vincent Gallo. The film tells the story of Tetro, played by Gallo, who has disowned his family in New York and moved to Argentina, leaving his life behind, to invent another. Verdu plays Tetro’s partner who is caught in the middle when his younger brother, Bennie, turns up out of the blue. He's run away from Military School to find his brother and encourage him to fulfil his destiny and pursue his dream of being a writer. 


Dazed Digital: Spanish language films are quite a force internationally today, do you think this is something which will continue?

Maribel Verdu: Spain does not do mainstream film really, The Orphanage and Pan’s Labyrinth are perhaps the only ones but of course, Pan’s Labyrinth is Mexican. 

DD: What was it like working with Francis Ford Coppola on an experimental films, compared to his other ones?
Maribel Verdu:
Well, Coppola is an incredible director, he was very generous with me, very protective and very kind. I really appreciate the fact that he thought of me for the film because I think that 'Tetro' made me stronger, you know, stronger than I thought I was. I never thought I was a very a brave person and it made me realise that I was. 

DD: What is it like working in English as opposed to Spanish?
Maribel Verdu:
You can’t imagine what it is like to do a film in English! I had never done an English speaking film before and for the first time to be with Francis Ford Coppola and a couple American actors with really thick LA and New York accents, I was like “Como, e”. I knew the last word they would be saying on set and I’d listen out for that word and I wouldn’t understand it! It was so difficult for me but by the end of the film I was much more comfortable… If I made the film now I think I could do it with far more confidence.

DD: I was fascinated by Miranda’s character, the way she is caught between Tetro and Bennie…
Maribel Verdu:
She is so in love with Tetro and you just think “why?” She’s a doctor with a great career, a beautiful fortunate woman who is not from the ghetto, but by the end you begin to understand his troubled mind through the story of his childhood. I think I would fall in love with Bennie rather than Tetro, he is far more tender…

DD: Tetro is a complex film about family, did you relate to the story in any way?
Maribel Verdu:
With Francis, it’s very easy to approach his ideas because he tells you about every part of his life, he’s not shy! He has the approach that, if you want to know everything about his life, then you just ask. He told us that the film was a little bit autobiographical in terms of his life and his family and huge part of the inspiration for the film was taken from his life.

DD: So when he shared so much it was very easy for you to take that on in terms of acting in the film?
Maribel Verdu:
Well… I asked him who I would be in his life, if my character Miranda would be in his real life and he said ‘It’s a secret’. So I thought she must have been a very important woman in his life!