The growth of the Chilean film industry has not only brought us innovation through premieres and filmic formats, but it has given life to a new generation of actors that have distinguished themselves with their complex and layered performances. This new wave is made up of several names and faces, and standing out among them is actress Mariana di Girolamo, who will soon premiere at San Sebastián (September 18-26) a new film by Leo Medel, La Verónica.
At 29 and with a career that doesn’t stop surprising audiences, this promising young star of film, theater, and television has played strong characters that touch on themes tied to the representation of contemporary women, as is the case with Sofía in the Amazon series The Pack, María Elsa in the TV show Perdona nuestros pecados, and Ema in the film by the same name directed by the acclaimed Pablo Larraín.
The actress returns to the Basque Country now portraying an influencer in social media, in an intimate and intricate film constituted of only close ups, that explores universal and incomprehensible elements of the human face. We spoke with Mariana about her performance, the ideas surrounding the film, her work with Medel, and also about her intentions to live in Spain.
- Regarding the use of the close up throughout the entire film, Leo Medel stated that La Verónica “is a very risky film”. Would you use the same word to describe it? Why?
Effectively it is a risky film. Maybe I would add never-before-seen, unbelievable, and also entertaining and dynamic. Leo had the idea for this film for more than 10 years, wanting to experiment in this format. We had to keep the audience captivated and it could have become tiring or utterly boring to see the same face for more than an hour, but everything indicates that it worked, it came through. I’m looking forward to the world premiere at San Sebastián, Biarritz, and hopefully very soon in Chile, and to be able to hear the different sensations and experiences people will have with this story.
- Beyond having been inspired by a Chilean model to incarnate this character, what was the investigation process like to achieve the portrayal that you wanted to materialize? Do you have acting references?
I based myself on different characters that fit within this role. I’m constantly familiarized, although virtually, with influencers. It seems utterly attractive to me and fascinating to see how they communicate and express themselves. Although the process of investigation was virtual more than anything, there was also intense work with Leo in the search for the language and tone of voice that we wanted to materialize in Verónica. She is a woman that incarnates different characters within herself, different personalities, different forms; she fluctuates between one emotion and another very quickly, between one feeling and another which depend, above all, on the listener in front of her. So, I had to be skilled to arrive at different emotions very rapidly.
- In an interview with Culto, you said that your role was “challenging in many aspects”. What do you mean? How much do the critics matter or not while you’re constructing a role?
Yes, it was a challenging role in several aspects. Firstly, because the format establishes this almost embarrassing and very intimate relationship that I had to have with the camera. The film occurs in a close up the whole time, all the attention is centered on the face, the eyes, the mouth, in the most minimal gestures, and at some point that caused a certain vertigo. There was no space for doubt because you notice everything. The relationship I had with the director of photography, Pedro García, was super important.
I don’t care about the critics, I care about what happens with the director and the crew. I enter this world, this skin, this voice, in a highly concentrated state, and I care about doing as excellent a job as my capacities allow. Being able to incarnate this character, the director’s requirements, and the director’s vision.
- For a mother to be accused of murdering her daughter sounds pretty terrible. How would you say the film is, and what is the story that the spectators are going to encounter? Is the story about an investigation or rather the internal process of your character?
The spectator is going to encounter this woman in a very intimate way, this mother, this contemporary influencer who is the main suspect in the death of her first daughter. At the same time, Verónica seeks to be the face of the new lipstick currently in fashion. To do so, she needs to get more followers. Amid all this, Verónica starts to feel jealous of her second daughter. From a certain point of view, we could say that she has Munchausen syndrome, that she has postpartum depression or that she wants to redeem herself with her husband, but in fact Verónica is none of these characters and all of them at the same time. Verónica is an accumulation of all the appearances, but without a doubt is a woman that seeks the compassion and help of others, who needs to be the center of attention, who has a lot of unmet needs.
La Verónica is an aesthetic experience for the spectator, due to the format it proposes, which is utterly particular as far as the work of cinematography. It also delves into the world of selfies, beauty; it’s like a journey into this virtual, immediate world with which the majority of us are so familiarized and immersed. The world of overexposure of Instagram, of the “like”, of the capitalization of that which is attractive. It’s no longer necessary to be attractive in the world, you can be attractive on social media. It’s all a theme that, in my perspective, is very interesting, and the film takes on that proposal.
- In La Verónica, you again delve into the theme of motherhood, just like in Ema. What is the power of that narrative tie in both films?
The power is in the questioning, in the debate, in putting a contemporary mother as a protagonist, the problematics of the role, the questioning of the role and the different types of mother, as well as the different possibilities of exercising or not exercising this role. In this case, Verónica represents a family ideal and an ideal of motherhood, and what’s interesting about this fiction is how it problematizes motherhood in a place where it should be perfect but it’s not.
- You belong to a new generation of national artists that work on interesting creative projects and that are managing to conquer spaces in the international film and television industry. What does all that mean to you?
To me it means gratitude, I’m very happy to have and to have had the possibility to approach such diverse projects, in theater as well as television, film, photography editorials, to work with different artists. For example with Ema, having the possibility to taste the global film industry, on the other hand, the reach that The Pack had, and having the possibility to be able to show national fictions abroad, what we’re doing in Chile, in the Spanish-Speaking sphere, in Latin America, Europe, and the world. There’s so much talent, so many directors, actors, directors of photography, only the possibilities are lacking, the funds are lacking. That’s why it’s important for our work to be known there. I’m really looking forward to working abroad, which is why next year I want to live and work in Madrid, make a base there. I’m very interested in what’s happening in Europe, in Latin America, and of course in Chile. So I’m working to bring about the possibility of acting and interpreting around the world.
- What are your current and future projects?
I’m currently in Barcelona, from here I’m generating different material and interviews, I’ve participated in multiple online broadcasts with mostly independent media networks, and am concentrating on the premiere of La Verónica at San Sebastián. I’m participating in the piece Amor en cuarentena, and I am also on a virtual platform for radio theater with the play Romeo y Julian, which we presented in radio-theater format for the fourth consecutive year; plus, waiting anxiously for the start of The Pack 2 and to be able to finally shoot that second season. I already had access to the scripts, it’s tremendous and I really, really want to get back on set. My big life project, professional as well as personal: settling in Madrid, meeting agents, and making plans for what’s next.