“I don’t like seeing myself in a movie”: An interview with The Intruder’s Cecilia Roth
In director Natalia Meta’s El Prófugo, Cecilia Roth takes on the role of Marta with lip-smacking gusto. Marta visits her daughter Inés (Érica Rivas) as life starts to take a decidedly bizarre turn, and Marta might be harbouring a secret or two herself. Best known to international audiences for her starring role in Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother, Roth was still nursing an injury when we sat down to talk about El Prófugo, which premieres in competition at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival.
How did you hurt yourself?
I jumped over my cat. And I landed on this [her hand], this [her ribcage], and this [her chin]. There was blood like in a Tarantino movie.
So do you still love your cat?
Yes! Of course. He was under the bed.
Your character in the film has a sense of duality, with the secret she’s keeping. How do you play someone like that?
It’s like she has a book – how to be the best mother. And she understood that she had to do that.
Did you deliberately play her like she was some type of fantasy mother?
Of course, yes. Out of the centre, a little far… not at all far, but far.
Left of centre?
Left of centre, yes. And Inés doesn’t understand all this the first time.
As an actress, how do you spot talent in your collaborators, and is Natalia Meta a talent?
Of course she is, and this is only her second film. So it’s very strange to be in Berlin with her second film – she understood that this is absolutely normal, and this is not normal. So, she’s a talent, of course she is.
What was the process like when you made the film?
We rehearsed a lot. First we met each other, and I worked with Érica a long time ago and it was easy for me to work with her again, and Natalia had a lot of questions when we began to work. So we didn’t answer all her questions, and this was good for the film, because if you come to the film with all the questions resolved, I think there’s no surprise on set – it doesn’t exist. And I love these surprises on set. The work with her was just trying to understand her questions. And I don’t know if I answered those, but it was just playing – playing, playing, playing. Not acting, playing like kids, you know?
Do you have any idea about whether a film will be good or not so good when you’re filming?
I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. It’s a surprise for me – everything, day by day. I don’t think of this as good or bad – I think it’s interesting to do it. Do I have a desire to go and do my job or not? And I wanted to do it. And it was a surprise everyday. I don’t know if I thought it was good or bad. I didn’t think like that. It was a surprise. To be here is a surprise.
Talking about being here at Berlinale, as an actress who works primarily in film, does it give you a thrill to watch the finished project with an audience?
I don’t know – I don’t like to see myself in a movie. It’s a very strange moment for me. Of course, I saw the film before. Yesterday (the premiere) wasn’t the first time I saw the film. I saw it in Buenos Aires, and it was perfect because I wouldn’t have enjoyed it [seeing it at Berlinale for the first time].
You’re known for your collaborations with Pedro Almodóvar. Do you ever have to fight the temptation to compare your other directors with him?
For me, he is the best, I think. Well, I’ve known him since I was very young, so he wasn’t the great director he is now. It was just Pedro and Cecilia. I wasn’t the actress I am now. I wasn’t the adult I am now, so it’s easy. I don’t compare him with other people. Each director is who he is… or who she is.
Image: Roth in The Intruder, © Rei Cine SRL/Picnic Producciones SRL
The Intruder (El Prófugo) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for The Intruder (El Prófugo) here: