The body of history in the foreground

A lot of melancholy” “says Natalia Oreiro, and talks about the first time she was characterized as Eva Perón for the series Santa Evita, available on Star +. And she adds about that moment: “I remember that process with a lot of melancholy: it was a long process of construction, of work, not just research. If I can recognize something good about the pandemic, it is that that time allowed me to do a lot of vocal work, with a coach, and physical, a slimming process, and beyond the external, where I looked blonde and pale and skinny, that it is the shell. I remember a moment, I was rehearsing a lot on Zoom, and one day I said I’m going to comb my hair, I’m going to put on my clothes and I’m going to try to start, with one of my coaches. I looked at myself in the mirror of the place where I rehearse at home, and it gave me a lot of melancholy, like saying ‘he left so young, with everything he did, with everything he wanted to do’. That happened to me: that extreme sadness of thinking of her being aware of her that she was dying, and that perhaps what he had made of her was lost, and that she was leaving him alone. That did feel strong, heavy”.

The series has been for years the white whale of Argentine fiction. It was a project that sought to reach the cinema more than once, and today, in seven episodes, it finally reaches the whole world. The series has top names that star in different time lines: Ernesto Alterio, Francesc Orella, Darío Grandinetti as Perón, Diego Cremonesi, Iván Moscher, Gabriela Ferraro and more members of a huge project that came to scenes with 1500 extras and dozens of locations in various cities. Director Alejandro Maci talks about the first challenge of blockbuster production: “Being able to delimit so many immeasurable elements in thought: a huge novel, a huge historical character. The historical correlate. The connotation. How can I sit in front of the project knowing that one has to delimit a character and a narrative process that are part of an echo chamber that never ends? It was a great challenge, and it led to many conversations between one of the producers and directors, Rodrigo García, and me about the modes, about which were the most appropriate for the project to be rigorous and maintain the spell that reading the novel had provoked in us”. How then to deactivate all the ideas about Eva Perón? Maci:

“Disembling her. As a procedural path it can be traversed. It was running away from a figure that is crystallized into an icon. We did not go there, everything we worked with Marcela Guerty and Pamela Rementería, the screenwriters, and with the team, with the actors, with Natalia, went against the grain of that possibility.

—Natalia, is there something you think you understood about Eva Perón by playing her?

NATALIA OREIRO: There is a phrase by Galeano that still resonates with me a lot… it’s actually a vignette of his that ends by saying “men’s fear of women without fear.” That pretty much sums up what was going on with her. The men were afraid of her and they were so afraid of her that she was dead. They were afraid of her dead energy of her. And yet, what at least Eloy Martínez, with his novel and his research, did involve things that he invented, or recreated with license. He says “People believe that what I believe is true.” There is a very iconic film where Eloy Martínez came across the director and told him “I invented that, it wasn’t like that”, and the director had copied it, which was true. Or that the truth was, he had invented it. 70 years after her departure, the myth of Eva Perón is still very present.

—What does it generate in terms of sharing the trade back, and in that term, on that scale?

O: First of all, one is grateful to have a job when many had to stop. A lot of respect for the situation, the protocols were very strong, they tested us every other day (everyone, eh, not just the actors…1500 extras). It is only possible in a series of this magnitude. It is a series that paradoxically wants to be made for many years and nobody came to do it, to produce it for its cost. When the pandemic came, the fear of not being able to do it appeared again. Obviously it was possible, but on my part a lot of responsibility for what happened, but I already had my burden for the character. Now I need to let go, because the work is completed with the gaze of the public, with the audience.

—Natalia, how do you talk to your characters, feel a lot, your work, in the process, how do you build them?

O: I had three characters that existed and that died tragically. The first was Clandestine Childhood, where she played the director’s mother, a missing Montonero woman. The second was Gilda. And the third is Eva. In all three cases they are very different characters, very different. The three have a common thread, that beyond their tragic death, they left a deep mark on the people they were close to. I asked the three of them for permission, and I asked for that permission all the time and every day. Not only one asks permission to that person and that energy, but to everything that that means. They are characters who move a lot of energy, who are well remembered, highly respected. For me it has always been an honor to be chosen, in this case by casting, but there is an enormous responsibility on my part to what the story and whoever directs it needs, asks, but mainly to the women I am playing. Because I am a woman, and to understand what each one suffered in that process, even from machismo (because it is clear that what happens with Eva’s body is, of course, a little, or a lot, of that machismo that happens with women who have something to say). So, that respect and that permission has been in those characters, in those moments; three very different moments in my life, and three completely different characters.

ALEJANDRO MACI: It’s kind of creepy what happened to his body. Of course we got into that whole universe of the anatomist, who is a great character in the series, a great character of the time. A Spaniard who came to the country that had refused to embalm Lenin, and who comes here charging a fortune to take charge of that iconization, let’s say, of Eva. It is a gothic aspect of the story.

—What do you feel you like to tell at this time of your life, Natalia?

O: I like compromise. I like to get involved in life in general, to feel that one does not go through places, but rather lives in places. And I like to choose women, or to be chosen; because sometimes I don’t know if those characters choose you. Then when I’m at the dance I think “where did I get myself?” But I like it. I must also admit that there are many characters who are not known characters, who are not part of the story, who are super interesting characters, who are anonymous and who I would love to play. I would also like to do something with humor, and that is important in my life. My latest works are dramatic and finding comedy at this point in my life would do me good.

write the awful

—They are the writers of the series. Do you feel that they shed light on something that perhaps the novel did not fully exploit?

PAMELA REMENTERIA: Yes, the manipulation of a woman, by all men. That it is well outlined, it is written, but it is not with that focus. And that is totally contemporary.

MARCELA GUERTY: Everyone claims possession of it. Of every little thing. And also some aspects of Eva that were not counted in the novel. Some parts of her story that for me are revealing of what she did and was doing, are details that we were able to tell in our own way.

—There are moments when you feel a link with another cinema, from another era, from the 70s. Is that intentional?

A: I was born in the 70s, we are from that time, we know what we are talking about. It is not foreign to us at all. It is part of our identity and it is what we grew up with. I spent my entire primary school under a military regime. We know what we are talking about. It has a particular color because all the times of the journalist in the novel are condensed in that period, that year and that moment. It has the tincture of all those years concentrated in a particular and concrete year.

G: I think that the aesthetic look perhaps brings the cinema of that moment closer. But from writing we don’t think so.

—What did you appreciate during the writing that you did not suspect could be there?

A: There is a lot of fiction on our part, to fill in the gaps in the story, and put together a thriller with all the timelines. We were surprised and he was bringing us the material. When you start to write, even though we had already written to Eva once, you have to go through the bronze door and go to the bathroom door. It is always revealing. But we always do it with respect.

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