Bruna Cusí’s career (Barcelona, 1986) is an adventure that leads her to embark on the riskiest and most exciting projects. Now “The Queen of The Lizards” is premiering and, in December, we will see her in “The Barcelona Vampiress”. Two more surprising characters in the brilliant career of a restless actress who shot to fame with “Summer 1993” and “Uncertain Glory”, and who has just returned to the stage with “Siglo mía, bestia mía”, in Madrid’s Valle-Inclán Theater.
When directors Fernando Martínez and Juan González, who make up the Burnin ‘Barnacles, asked you to star in “The Queen of The Lizards”, which narrates the love story between an alien (Javier Botet) and a single mother, how did you react? Did you think “this is far too crazy”, or did you say, “Let’s go! Let’s do this!”?
It was a ” Let’s go! Let’s do this!.” I had already worked with Fernando and Juan in sketches for the group “Venga Monjas”, and I did a cameo in their previous film, “IKEA 2” (2016). I accepted before even reading the script. It made no difference to me! “Let’s do it, guys!” They are two very talented directors, and I am delighted to be working with them again.
Do you consider cinema an adventure, and television, where you have participated in series like “The Red Band Society” and “Instinto”, as security?
Yes and no. In a way, cinema, and especially independent cinema where I work, can still afford to take risks. Cinema is an artistically free space, but, in recent years, television has also gotten into the act and is entering riskier terrain, fortunately.
So, what then is theater? A return to the essence of interpretation?
Theater is the most difficult medium of all. There’s something ritualistic and dangerous that neither movies nor TV have. Every day you expose yourself to the public. Now that I’m back doing theater again, I’m finding that people want to see exciting stories and cry. The funny thing is that, at the end of the performance, at the time of the applause, since you can’t see the faces of the spectators because of the masks, you have to trust that they are smiling, that they liked it. The staging of “Siglo mía, bestia mía”, which we performed at the Villa-Inclán Theater, was almost like a vaccine for me and has given me hope for change. After confinement and this kind of end of lockdown, I’m still in shock, but I want to be positive. The system has to change.
“Summer 1993”, “Ardara”, “Desaparecer”, “Mia and Moi”, “The Barcelona Vampiress”… Are you specializing in firsts?
Yes, and it is not a coincidence. A new generation of directors is emerging who are my age, and participating in debut films is something natural, a way for them to grow as well as for me. In the same way that Agustí Villaronga took a risk on me by giving me a leading role in “Uncertain Glory”, despite being a stranger to cinema, I also like to trust new filmmakers.
You won the Goya and Gaudí awards for “Verano 1993” (2017), by Carla Simón. Where do you keep the two statuettes?
Right now, on a shelf in the dining room. For a while, I had them in the kitchen, along with the macaroni. When I moved to a larger house, I was able to change their location, and, specifically, I have the Goya next to a box of Goya Pastel Pencils, ha ha.
Some of your awards come from the world of short films. You were awarded at the Aguilar de Campoo Festival for the short “Todo el mundo se parece de lejos” (Everyone looks the same from a distance – 2019), by Rafael de los Arcos. In your early days, you collaborated on many shorts. Right now, can you manage to take part is as many?
I started out in this profession making video clips and shorts. I have great memories of my work with Oriol Puig Playà, who was my roommate at the time. They were shorts like “Miranda” (2012) or “It Girl” (2014). I’d love to continue making more short films, but now, due to my schedule and time restrictions, I prioritize feature films. You also have to remember that, in general, shorts are unpaid work, but if the story really touches my soul, who cares about the money, right?
In December you’ll premiere “The Barcelona Vampiress”, directed by Lluís Danés. Another non-standardized project, a period film set at the beginning of the 20th century that tells the story of Enriqueta Martí, known as The Vampiress of El Raval. You play Amèlia, a prostitute related to a journalist (Roger Casamajor) who investigates Enriqueta’s alleged crimes. Another different, original film on your resume. Another risk?
Well, the same thing happened to me as with “The Queen of The Lizards”: I’ve known Lluís for a long time, and with I’ve worked with him in theater and on video clips. I immediately understood what he wanted to do with this script, because I know his world and I knew that, despite the low budget of the film, he would produce something interesting. In itself, it’s a classic script, with a police tone, but what makes “The Barcelona Vampiress” different is its artistic proposal. Amèlia is a typical femme fatale, but, at the same time, she’s a survivor, a prostitute with a troubled childhood and adolescence.
It’s been three years since the premiere of “Uncertain Glory”, and you haven’t crossed paths with Agustí Villaronga since then. Why is that?
I’m wondering the same thing! Tell him! I’m already reminding him, and he answers me saying that, right now, he doesn’t have any character for me. I have fond memories of that shoot. For example, how Oriol Pla, Marcel Borràs and I met with a historian to explain the context of the film. In addition, we had a great bible to work from in Emili Teixidor’s novel on which “Uncertain Glory” was based. There were things about my character, Trini, that reminded me of my grandmother, and I had conversations with her about the time of the Civil War.
You haven’t filmed with Carla Simón either, after the phenomenon of “Verano 1993”.
In Carla’s case, I understand it even better because of the way she works. First draw the character, and then find the actor and actress to play them. And not the other way around. With “Verano 1993” I was lucky enough to resemble, in its essence and spirit, my character, Marga. In addition, Carla doesn’t always shoot with professional actors, but she likes to mix actors and non-actors. I’m following the process of her next film, “Alcarràs” closely, the filming of which has had to be postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.
Recently you crossed paths twice with Mario Casas; once in the Netflix movie “The Occupant” and then in the series “Instinto”. He has a reputation for being a perfectionist and always challenging himself. Do you think you’re likeminded?
Mario prepares in-depth and gets deeply involved in every project he works on, and the results are truly positive. Every movie requires a different interpretive work, and it’s not the same working with Agustí Villaronga, who likes to be very close to his actors, as it is in other cases in which you don’t have the direct attention of the director. Or where you have to improvise. In general, I’m very demanding, very demanding of myself. Sometimes overly so.
So, do you think we’ve hit on a title for the interview?
No, no, I always get branded with the same interview titles; this one about how demanding I am, either that or that I slog away as if I was breaking rocks. Let’s turn it around, what about, “I have to stop being so demanding of myself?”