An Interview with Sonia Braga
Its like they have more questions than answers.
Ms. Braga on families
Tell us about Berta, your character.
Berta. Shes a mom. Above all, shes a mother. More than a wife, or Mexican-American, or whatever. Shes the international mother. Shes a woman with a big, big heart. Dont they say, In the heart of a mother always fits one more? I think they always say that in Portuguese. Thats what Berta is. Shes nothing but unconditional love.
What do you like about Berta? What dont you like?
Well, I love the character. Theres not much to dislike about her. You may not agree with her her life, her lifestyle but theres very little to dislike about her because thats what she is. Shes love. She has this huge amount of love [for] her kids, her husband, her lifestyle. There was one scene that I did that really explains Berta, where she says, Its so hard to understand right now because for me growing up was so different. I knew what my life was going to be like. I was going to get married and have children. My mother knew everything. She had all the answers. But now I dont have any answers. She was made to be a wife, a housewife and a mother. I have a huge amount of respect for people who are like that. I can say that I wish they could have another life. A better life, maybe, but I totally respect them.
What questions do you explore through your character?
My questions about life, about family. What is it to have a family, to have a father, a mother and children, and to try to hold these people together? I grew up in a very open-minded family. My father died when I was very little, so my mother was really, really incredibly busy trying to provide for us. So I think that what I gave to Berta is my searching for love, maybe. Thats what it is.
What does family mean to you?
I dont know. I think all families are different. They have more questions than answers. All generations are different from one another. One comes very open. The next one comes very restricted and dry. In the big sense, I have no idea of the truth. I have no idea if we were supposed to be in a family, if we were supposed to be together. If you take away money, if you take away the houses and things, who are we really? What is love really about? What is it to love each other? Why do we stay together, and why do all the kids split? All these questions I have really deep inside of me. The only thing I know is that we came from the stars, and that we have the same material as the stars. Thats all that I know. Everything else I dont know.
Where does Berta come from? Is she part of you?
There are fragments. Shes like a mosaic of women I've known. Part of Berta, believe it or not, is one of my friends, one of the people who disappeared in the Brazilian regime when we had the dictatorship. So Berta, she goes everywhere, because this to me is a woman that can be revolutionary, the way she holds people together and says, Look, lets go. Theres a scene. The man is depressed and she says, Shut up and get out. Dont stay in bed. Were going to get there. Were going to get over this and together well do it. That to me is fantastic. I have an image. My grandmother, my mother, myself, my friends, the women in pictures that I see that I have never met. The women from another part of the world from Japan, from wherever, all over the world. These women that I try to describe are all the picture of painful mothers trying to survive and trying to give to their kids education, trying to feed their children.
What do you like about acting?
You can keep yourself alive. Thats the magic of being an actor. Like today, when I miss Raoul Julia so much, I just go and see a movie. I see Kiss of the Spider Woman, and there he is with the same power as when he made that picture. Thats the magic that makes movies and television and art and painting. Thats a mystery, too. How we do that, I dont know. I have no idea. But thats the beauty of it and the magic of it. We can bring to characters dark and bright sides that nobody even dreams about. Guess what? Sometimes we dont have to tell this to anybody. We just stay there. If the pain is right for that character, if the director reads that as a good thing for the scene, thats what he prints. We agree that the pain is right or the happiness is right or the love is right. So when you agree with that, and go to a magical place, thats total amazing.