LA ACTRIZ DEL MES
Melina Matthews is a true chameleon. She can switch between four languages without even blinking. Her acting goes from strength to strength. However a little known secret is that she often works behind camera and has also assisted Luci Lenox on a variety of projects over the last ten years. Her knowledge of behind the scenes production and casting only helps make her a better actress. And let’s not even mention her presenting career.
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?
It all started when I did my first school play when I was about eight years old. That’s where I met my first “acting coach” Angel Llàcer, who told me that some people were lucky enough to do this for a living. And there was I at eight years of age thinking all jobs were boring!
What training have you had?
My passion for acting kept growing since that then but also became interested in other things, so whilst I was graduation from journalism at the University of Westminster in London, I took evening classes at Central School of Speech and Drama and studied Shakespeare, as well as many other courses along the years with casting directors Luci Lenox, Pep Armengol, acting coach Mel Churcher. Another big training however, was to learn on the job, as I was lucky enough to get cast in a TV show here in Barcelona where I learnt all the camera technique.
What are the principal differences between a national and international production in your eyes?
I can only think of only really: money! We are as talented and as prepared as the rest of the world. The budget will determine whether the actors will have decent rehearsals with the director, and most of the time determines the success of the film. In the US, the product they’re selling might be mediocre, but the promotional work is so powerful that the film is likely to make millions on the opening weekend. Here, however, we have to be a little more creative and rely on social media a lot, as well as word to mouth, which makes a more “honest” promotion.
Which director would you like to work with in the future and why?
Well, allow me to dream a little! Here in Europe I would love to work with French director Jacques Audiard. Ever since I saw De battre mon Coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) I fell in love with his dark/thriller cinema. His characters are profoundly complex. I remember I read an article when The Prophet came out, which describes this complexity: "Losers can seem like winners, devils like angels and cowards like heroes." As an actor, playing this sort of character must to be a heck of challenge, and that is exciting.
What is the most surprising thing that you have seen on a shoot?
I was working for an American producer who invested in Spanish film directed by a good friend of mine. After three weeks of shooting, my boss wasn’t happy with the result so she asked me to go to her trailer to talk about the possibility of replacing the director with the first AD. I didn’t quite understand why she was telling me all of this, until I realized she wanted me to do her dirty work for her and go up to the director and tell him the producer wanted him fired. She also wanted me to break the news to the first AD, and also ask him out for her. I could not believe my ears. I felt like a pimp. Needless to say, I refused. I told her this might be how it works in the US, but here we do things a little differently. (PS. they never fired the director in the end!)
What would your advice be to a Spanish filmmaker trying to breakthrough internationally?
From what I have observed, the best advice I could give a Spanish filmmaker is to try to make it at home first. And by making it, I don’t necessarily mean become the next J.A Bayona or Amenábar. Making a film or short films at home, regardless of whether they’re successful or not, can help you shape up a career in order to get better deals abroad. I have a Catalan friend who studied in LA, and has been living out there for more than a decade, trying to make it happen, but his first opportunity was to make a film here, in Barcelona. Thanks to this first film, some producers invested in a short film, which turned out to be one of the best last year. He is now directing his second film in LA.