IN CONVERSATION WITH MARIO AND CASAS
Interview by Jana Letonja
Brothers Mario and Óscar Casas are well-known Spanish actors, who are currently working together on ‘Mi soledad tiene alas’. This film marks Mario’s debut as a director and it stars Óscar. Mario has been a star in Spain since his 20s and Óscar has been following in his footsteps. Both of their careers have been gaining international exposure for a while now.
Mario, you’ll be making your directorial debut with ‘Mi soledad tiene alas’. How exciting is it to be in this role for the first time?
The truth is that I am like a mixture of many emotions. I’m nervous, but nervous in a good sense. I mean, like with butterflies in my stomach, but at the same time I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a project that I’ve been working on for almost three and a half years. I started writing the first words together with the scriptwriter Deborah François and it’s a very exciting and long journey at the same time.
I really hope that the people who see the film enjoy it. But more than anything, I would love that the actors reach the public. It seems to me that they are in a very nice place, they have also worked a lot and I would like the public in general to see the work done by my brother Óscar as the protagonist and then also the other non-professional actors in their first film.
What can you share with us about this upcoming film and its special meaning to you?
For me, it’s very special because it’s written by me, it’s a story that I have been writing for a long time and for which I have fought so that it could be made. It’s special for the whole team that has been by my side. And at the same time, something as special as being able to direct my little brother, we were able to have such a special, emotional journey. We know each other very well, but this has opened a door, where we have gotten to know each other much more and it is one of the most special things to have shared something so magical with one of the people I love the most in this world.
How has it been working on this film with your brother?
It has been a unique journey of personal discovery. I think it has happened to him as an actor and it has also happened to me. We have seen ourselves in a totally different place. He had already made many films, he’s a great actor while still young, but this is a special situation because your brother being the director is not something that usually happens. From that point on, it becomes something different and for us something almost transcendental, especially for him.
And also I have learned a lot. As an actor, I have made many films in 37 years and in every film I do, I keep learning. But as a director, it’s my first film and I’ve tried to take care of Óscar as much as possible, as well as all the other actors. I wanted them to have a unique experience and live this long process of casting and rehearsals with them. We’ve tried to record everything in favor of the actors and I hope that somehow it has changed their lives, even in a small way, and that now they see everything differently.
You’ve been in the acting industry since your 20s. Which role you’ve portrayed has left the biggest mark on you personally and on your career?
The character that has marked me the most and still accompanies me today after many years was H in ‘Three Steps Above Heaven’ (Tres metros sobre el cielo). It’s the character that introduced me much more in the cinema and gave me the opportunity, thanks to the success of the film, that many directors or producers wanted to count on me in different projects, in the cinema in this case. It is a character that people continue to see in the film, is one of the films that most people talk to me about, young people are still watching it and older people like me, at 37, still remember.
How did you develop your passion for directing? And how would you say acting helped you in this new role?
Wanting to direct went hand in hand with acting for me. For many years, I always had the idea that someday I could direct a film and direct a film starring my little brother. As an actor, while preparing the character, playing and so on, I always tried to look at the figure of the director, how he created the film, how he worked with the actors, how he worked with the technicians, what kind of shots he used. I’ve always liked that a lot and throughout my career I’ve paid a lot of attention to that. Maybe I was younger before and it was in a more unconscious way, but little by little as the years went by, I had more and more desire. I just lacked a script. Then came the pandemic, I started to write and suddenly everything happens. Magic, destiny and everything goes forward.
In the end, I think that directing this film is a bit affected by everything that has been my career. I imagine that for directors in general, when making a film, everything from unconsciousness and intuition starts from a point of view of their cinematographic life since they were children. You watch cinema or you watch television or you see art in general and that affects you and you capture it in your films. In my case, apart from that cinematographic journey in my life as a spectator, I have made many films as an actor, that I have lived directly, and there is also something that affects me in the films. Being an actor and having made films and series, has affected me in a direct way. That has been my other cinematographic life and where I have also learned.
Oscar: Jumper GCDS, pants Diesel, sneakers Camperlab, necklace Alex Sobrón, rings Twojeys and his own earring
What are your ultimate goals for the future of your career? And what can you share with us about your upcoming projects?
The biggest goal is to continue doing what I love, which is acting. I hope to have the opportunity to work with directors that I admire a lot in Spain and also abroad. That would be very nice, to work with people you admire and have the opportunity to share a trip with them.
About upcoming projects, I’ve just finished a film with Rodrigo Cortés, the director of ‘Buried’, that will be released next year. It’s produced by Scorsese and it’s the first time he produced a Spanish film. I also start filming another one in November, a very small project with a new director, between Barcelona and Netherlands.
And if ‘Mi soledad tiene alas’ has a good reception, I would like to have the opportunity to direct another film later on.
When you are not acting or directing, what are your biggest passions in life?
I live in the suburbs of Madrid, in the countryside with my animals, and I live quite apart, in my solitude, but in a positive way. I am happy. And then I love being with my family, being with friends, going to the movies, doing a lot of sports. For me, it’s something that is a philosophy of life. Running, training, boxing is something necessary for me and that’s what I do when I’m not working.
Óscar, how has watching your brother’s career impacted you to follow in his footsteps?
It has had a big impact on me for sure, living in a house where 80 % of the conversations are about films, about acting. For both of us it is ou dream, our thing in our lives that makes us happy. To have someone inside your home, someone in your family, that important to you, that you can experience and you can share everything about this art with has had a big influence on me. He helps me a lot, he teaches me so much. You can imagine how important he is for me in my career and how grateful I am to have him because he’s the oldest brother and he has experienced his whole career by himself. I am very lucky to have him. The experience is completely different for me and I feel more safe.
Soon, we’ll be seeing you in ‘Mi soledad tiene alas’, which will mark Marios’s debut as a director. How was the experience of working together on a project, where he’s been your director?
It has been the most intense, the most happy and the most amazing experience of my life. This whole time that we were rehearsing and shooting the film, I can’t even put into words the feelings that I had. It was a big emotional experience where, as an actor, it was the most crazy and the most difficult experience.
And at the same time, I got to experience my brother being the director and the writer of the story. It’s been the most beautiful journey that we ever had. I feel lucky as well to experience this art with my family and everything just got to a different level.
The film is a journey of discovery for Dan, who’s been living without thinking about tomorrow, between parties and beating up jewelry stores. What can you share about your character, Dan, and his journey that we’ll be able to see?
Dan is a young artist. He paints and he does graffiti. He has a really difficult family situation. He needs to start to make decisions and he’s really sensitive. He has a lot of monsters inside of him, he has some darkness inside of him because of his life. And we will see in the film how he’s developed, how he tries to live and how he tries to have wings in his life.
What kind of characters and stories challenge you the most as an actor?
Every time that the character is really different from me, it is a challenge. But at the same time, in this film, Mario’s idea and the idea of this film is not to make a character, not to act a character that is really different from me, that walks different, that speaks different from me. Mario wants me to live as the character. We try to make this character without acting and just be the character. So when you see the film, you don’t see acting, you see someone that is real.
For me, that was the most difficult thing as an actor. As an actor, I’ve been working since I was really young and to now forget everything about acting and just feel and take out all these acting skills that I’ve been working on, makes me an actor I need to be in this film. And every project that I’m doing next, I want to do it like that. I just want to portray the character without acting and make it real, even if it’s really different from me.
Where do you see your career in 5 years? Which goals and dreams would you like to achieve in the future?
I would love to make more movies with my brother. We just dream about a next movie and maybe a third one. I would love to work outside of Spain as well, to make international projects where I can explore my acting and explore my career in a different language. I would also love to work with some directors and actors that I admire.
Where will we be seeing you next in? Any exciting projects that you can share with us about?
I just filmed a film titled ‘Control Room’. Some aliens from a different planet come to our planet and try to kill everyone, try to kill our families, try to kill our community. So me and my partner in the control room will need to save all of them. It was a crazy experience, but the script of this film is just amazing and we had a lot of fun. I think this film will impact people. And now I’m working on my first English project outside of Spain. It’s been exciting.
How do you like spending your free time? Which are your favorite hobbies?
I like to spend it with my family. I have a little brother and I need to spend a lot of time with him. With this work, you spend three to four months away from home and when I come back, I just need to be with them. I like to spend a lot of time surfing, boxing, doing a lot of sports. I like to keep it simple and that’s what actually makes me feel really good, safe and chill.
Talents: Mario & Óscar Casas @mario_houses @oscar_casas_
Photographer: JuanKR @juankr_
Stylist: Caterina Ospina @cateomiwiki
Styling assistant: Ruben Cortes @runwithoutpaul
Makeup: Antonio Romero @antonioromeromakeup
Hair: Fernando Torrent @torrentfernando
Producer: Room Service 039 @roomservice039
Video: Javie Román @javieroman__
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Interview: Jana Letonja @janaletonja