IN CONVERSATION WITH ALEX PASTRANA
Interview by Jana Letonja
Spanish actor Álex Pastrana is best known for his role as Raúl in Netflix’s ‘Élite’, which will be returning for its seventh season this Fall. He also starred as Ulises in ‘Welcome to Eden’ and as Nacho in the movie ‘Under Her Control’.
Álex, you joined the highly popular Netflix series ‘Élite’ in the sixth season. How did you get cast on it and how exciting is being a part of such a succesful series?
Of course having a manager and having recently done another huge Netflix show helped to get the audition, but I like to think it was because of a very strategic shoot I did. I wanted to be cast so bad that I grabbed my friend Carlos Villarejo and we did an amazing photoshoot with my strongest highschooler/bad boy impression just around the days they were auditioning. It worked.
It’s been amazing and it’s been a dream of mine since I got into acting school because of all the opportunities that it brings and how many people it reaches all around the world.
In ‘ Élite’ you portray Raúl, who is obssesive and controlling. He is always checking on his girlfriend to see where she is and resorts to physical violence. How hard is it portraying a character like this?
Being given this kind of role was something that scared me for so many reasons, but at the same time I was willing to portray this reality because I thought it would help bring awareness around toxic and dangerous relationships.
Honestly, it was very hard to get in the skin of such a character, but also it was the kind of challenge that I’m interested in. I worked on it with my coach Oscar Velado and I remember him telling me “More, stronger, more violent”. And I was like “More? That’s my max”. It was a long journey. Also listening to friends of mine and women that have suffered this kind of abuse helped me build the character.
What can you tease with us about the upcoming seventh season?
We are under “Pena de muerte” if we say something, but I can tell you my character gets darker and the new members are insane. It’s been a real pleasure to work with Maribel Verdu and Anitta, who are insane in the show.
Acting wasn’t your initial career choice, as you studied to become an engineer. How did your acting career start? What made you passionate about acting?
I started acting after I finished engineering and got my first job as an engineer. So basically, once my parents were happy and I thought I was already settled. I enrolled, just to try, into the acting school and I fell in love at the very first second, so I had to leave everything behind. The reality is that growing up I didn’t know that the arts or acting were a real option or that it was something that you could study. If only I had known earlier.
You studied at the prestigious acting school Estudio Corazza in Madrid. What are some of your favorite memories from the time you spent there?
Those were the best times, without a doubt. Being in a place where they are so passionate about the craft, where they put in the hardest work, where they take care of the little things, away from the ego, it translates into a language of the heart, of the soul. And people really want to be there and that delivers a special type of warmth. You learn to meet people at a deeper level and you learn about yourself like nowhere else. It shifted me.
You were born in Caracas, Venezuela, but also spent some time in Paris. What did you enjoy the most about Paris?
I finished my engineering degree there. I fell in love with the city, just walking around was like a dream. Also the language, the people, everything. And my plan was to stay there, get settled, get married, live the French life. But the first step was to find an internship and well, I didn’t.
How would you describe the Spanish acting industry, which is truly incredible with its highly popular productions?
It is exciting to see how it is growing every day and how more talented and hardworking people are given the opportunity to work and to shine. And not only waiting to be given this opportunity, we are chasing this opportunity after seeing so many local references that we can deliver outstanding projects that travel all around the world. It is also exciting to see that this situation is attracting talent to Spain from all over the world and we are creating an artistic hub here. The city is booming.
What are your dreams and golas for the future of your acting career?
Strong and complex lead characters and projects that are really interested in telling a story, where every single department is working towards that. I would love to start working in English soon. To summarize, doing something like one of my favorite movies ‘Whiplash’ and also one of my favorite actors too, Miles Teller.
Besides acting, what are you most passionate about in life?
I can’t imagine my life without sports. Soccer, running and surfing are some of my favorites. My other passion is eating. I really love trying new foods and restaurants. And I love travelling, discovering new places, new cultures,
What can you share with us about your other upcoming projects?
I really wish I could share, but they are still cooking. I’ve been recently traveling and meeting people in the US because I want to explore opportunities there. It is a culture that I have experienced since I was a kid, so I feel very close to it.
Talent: Alex Pastrana @alexpastrana
Photographer: Daniel Sars @daniel.sars
Stylist: Thore Damwerth @thoredmw
MUAH: Anh Nguyaen @anhnguyaen
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Interview by Jana Letonja @janaletonja