Actress/singer Lúcia Moniz stars in Fatima as Maria Rosa, the mother of a young girl (Stephanie Gil) who believes she has seen the Virgin Mary. Moniz and Gil worked closely together during the production, and during the interview she talked about that collaboration. She also reflected on her work with Love Actually director/writer Richard Curtis.
With an all-star cast (Sonia Braga, Harvey Keitel, Goran Visnjic, Joaquim de Alemeida) behind Fatima, the feature does have an epic visual scope (it’s directed by Marco Pontecorvo). Even with its religious overtones, the picture also delves into the fractured relationship between Lucia (Stephanie Gil) and her mom Maria Rosa (Lúcia Moniz).
Even though Moniz is a veteran actress, she humbly added that she learned a great deal from working with Gil. I also had to throw in a Richard Curtis question during our brief chat, because who doesn’t love his movies (Curtis directed Love Actually and About Time)?
Yes that is brought up in the script and it got my attention as well. Of questioning what is really important to focus in life. Questioning doesn’t mean we’re pointing the finger to whoever believes in what happened. I think that’s very well done – questions are brought up but not judging the events.
My character judges in a way but the worst of it is she judges her daughter, not the happening which I think is worse. That was the aspect that made me want to explore of this story and the approach that is done about the story is so well known in Portugal and around the world.
It’s more down to earth. It shows the effect it had in real people in their lives and that is very interesting. For my character, I ended up focusing more on that because that was my job as well. It’s questioning if you don’t believe in something, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in your loved ones. I think that is a very strong message.
What about the chance to see Stephanie Gil shine in the film and also helping her through the process? And you can learn from each other too.
That’s what happened. We did learn from each other which was very special. I never felt that I was there teaching her anything. I think she did teach me (laughs).
Actually she did. Kids they can teach us so much about just being genuine and just being true and not complicating things. That was very important, this relationship with me and Stephanie. We would just go into what really mattered.
Our first scene that was scheduled was the most violent and the most dramatic scene in the film. I was really concerned about that. I was really nervous. We were already having a bit of a connection but the first scene to shoot, the first day of shooting, to be that first scene was really bothering me.
It was very emotional and it was a very tough day. At the end of the day, I went home. I was uncomfortable with myself. And I got a message from Stephanie and she said “I had so much fun doing this scene with you.” That was what I needed to hear. She took away all the complications and all the little things that we build and build – that poison our minds. She was focused on the scene. This is what we had to do. She was true, as you see in the scene. She’s amazing in the film, but she had fun!
At the end of the message, of course I replied to her and we ended up over the phone and doing silly things and singing silly songs to break the ice and focus on the good vibes.
What, in your opinion, makes Richard Curtis (Moniz worked with him in Love Actually) such a unique filmmaker?
The most thing that I admire in Richard Curtis besides the person he is . . . the big heart he has . . . His work with Comic Relief (is) unbelievable. When he tells a story he talks about people and all that a person can feel. Mixed feelings sometimes. You’re laughing but your tears are falling down.
Actually, nobody asked me that question and it’s the first time I’m answering a question and it’s so obvious for me. But to verbalize it, now it’s a bit hard.
After doing Love Actually, every film that I would watch I would call him or I would text him and I would end up saying the same thing – you make me leave the theater smiling and with tears in my eyes because it goes through all of my feelings.
A human being being cannot just be happy, cannot be sad, cannot just be mean or a great person. He (tells the story of) of real people. He describes them. He makes it a real scenario of a human being and it’s beautiful. And his sense of humor of course – it’s remarkable and amazing. I love it.
Thank you so much for you time.
Thank you very much.
Fatima is now playing in theaters and is available On Demand.