Wagner Moura on Diplomats and Drug Lords
This is kick ASS news. I'm Ben Mathis. Hey folks before we begin. I want to tell you about a fantastic. 'cause the comedy store just did a live broadcast featuring many of your favorite comedians that raised over one hundred thousand dollars for the Comedy Store Family Fund benefiting its employees and Comedians. Who were all out of work right now and God knows we need a laugh more than ever right now so you can still watch the show on demand through the comedy store channel on Roku and the benefit show will also be out as three comedy specials on Apple. Tv and xbox beginning. Monday April twenty-seventh. The spectacular lineup includes Whitney Cummings Chris. Delia Bobby Lee. Andrew Santino and Tim Dillon. Joey Dee as Tom. Sikora Bert Kreischer and Theo. Von Neal Brennan Bill Burr Donnell Rawlings and special guest. Dave Chapelle and while you're having some laughs donate by texting. Tc asked family to four one. Four four because comedians are struggling right now just like everyone else. They can't get out to clubs and perform in front of a live audience and they've got to make a living and support their families to again. Check OUT THE COMEDY STORE. Benefit on-demand through the comedy store channel on Roku or on Apple TV and xbox starting today and text T. family to four one four four four to donate again that's TC s family to four one. Four four. Thanks guys and now. On with the show Charisma Mannequin Complex. Sergio Vieira de Mello spent the majority of his storied career as a top U. N. Diplomat working in the world's most unstable regions deftly navigating deals with President reversionary war criminals for the sake of protecting the lives of ordinary people. But just as he readied himself for a simpler life with the woman he loved. Sergio took one last assignment in Baghdad. Newly plunged into chaos following the US invasion. The assignment was meant to be brief until a bomb blast caused the walls of the UN headquarters to come literally crashing down upon him now. This tragic true story has inspired a new Net Flix film called Sergio starring Brazilian actor Wagner Mira as the late diplomat and today Wagner joins me on the podcast to discuss how his first career as a journalist informs his acting today what it was like playing ruthless drug lord. Pablo Escobar on Netflix narcos. And how he gained and then lost all that weight for the role he talks about his long held fascination with brazilian-born human rights advocates Sergio. De Mello and how? He hopes that this film will have a positive impact on how Latin Americans are portrayed in Hollywood. He also says that working with famed. War correspondent turned director. Greg Barker added extra authenticity to Sergio. He reveals that they even used real life refugees as extras on the film and he theorizes that Iraq might have turned out very differently if Sergio de Mello had lived to complete his mission. Plus what political leaders who are dealing with the corona virus could learn from this revered diplomat and humanitarian coming up with Wagner. Mura in a moment ended the Brazilian stage film and Television Actor Wagner. Mira is widely considered one of South America's most popular talents. Us audiences know him as the notorious Pablo Escobar in net flicks critically acclaimed series narcos which garnered both the show and more golden globe. Nominations now he stars as the Real Life U. N. diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello in the movie Sergio also now out on that Flex Wagner Mura. Welcome thank you. I'm I'm happy to be here with you. Thanks for having me. We'll wagner you star as a real life diplomat in some of the most war-torn regions of the world and Sergio. And I was interested to read that I guess you originally started out as a journalist before you got into acting. Did your experience as a news reporter. Come in handy for this role Yes I I was. I was acting. I was acting since fifteen but when I when I got to the moment but I should decide what to do in terms of damage. I always liked journalism and I like to. I like to write and so I decided to join But it was a. It was a good experience for me. I've worked in them in the newspaper for a while and But I so I think that the the fact that I was a graduated in journalism might interest in in what was going on around the world and the news media made me a choose the kind of things that I that I choose when I when I decide what I wanna do is inaccurate. Think I think it had a huge impact also the things that I've read at university. The guys from School of Frankfurt Adore Beijing. Mock use. These things that you know this guy would think about coacher and society. I remember that when I was at a university might fascination by by the United Nations enhanced increase because I was studying Joe Politic's in this thing so in that and win a was in university that was longtime ago I was a I realized Was and that was the first time I heard his name really so you were aware of him long ago. Yeah yeah long ago he was a surgeon joined the the UN when he was twenty one he was really young he He spent thirty four years of his life. He considered himself think more more. Un Man than a Brazilian Man. Interesting then he but he will of course. He played the Brazilian guy when he needed to. It was very it was it was it was a very pragmatic guy but But yeah but he was he went. He moved to Paris when he was really young and he joined us so born his third and he graduated in philosophy and actually he'd received the highest degree education degree suborned could give to anyone But he he was. Un person who was a UN man he was and he had this and though he was of course. This intellectual graduated by disappointment as great philosopher. He was a man who was Formed in the fields of of the United Nations agency for for Refugees. So he had this Jill interesting qualities he was he could think theoretically but at the same time he was he wasn't a field he was You know he was. He was a guy who didn't like to be the offices and so he was a very unique. You went person going back to when you were a reporter starring out. What was the strangest or most interesting news story that you've ever covered was I mean I joined? I want it to be a journalist for a of course for very romantic reasons. I wanted to you know to discover something to investigate or to a find a way to help people's lives or are it was a very romantic Immediately when I started working on newspapers and things like that old that you know was because did the kind of things that I was sent to do. We're like very simple things like covering neighbors. That were fighting. What happened and so it was. It was a big disappointment to me. I didn't I didn't have the strands to to keep going. Yeah well certainly acting as more romantic is that part of the reason you decided to give up journalism for acting. I think so like I said I. I was acting since I was fifteen so I was. Wia was studying journalism while I was working on in newspapers and things like that I was at night was working on stage so it was. Yeah yeah acting and art and I think I started to work on stage mostly because I wanted to hang out with those people know those kind of people connect with and read. I guess I didn't know this but I read that you're also in addition to being an actor. You're a musician. You have a band music. Those those are different things. I have a band but I'm not a musician that think I can play. I can play instruments. I can play. The Guitar can play drums and I can. I can play instruments but I can't. I cannot consider myself a musician and look at you know that people that really dedicated their lives to you know learning and studying and Music. I I can say that but I love blaming my bats. My Band was on. We have this band since we were dim. Agers in the And and we still keep playing edit. Every time I go to Brazil and to my hometown Salvador we play and we We record sayings and then and whenever we can we. Can we make This little digs tour in different cities. But that's really rare because most of these guys. Most of the guys who play in my band are journalists a really journalists on account who does he is he the one who has all the best stories you can't well. You have been a big star in Brazil for quite a while before American audiences I saw you on Narcos But I think if I had this right you have done other films in Hollywood prior to Narcos. Wh what was your first big breaks in terms of crossing over to American film and TV from that I did here was a film called. Ilise him a film directed by Neil Bunk. Camp with Matt. Damon was in two thousand eleven may think twelve. I don't remember there was a there was the first film that I did hear. I have to say you were just so terrific. Pablo Escobar and narcos. I was a big fan of that series. And Wow what a nuanced character. I mean. He's both this murderous drug lord but then in his mind I guess he sees himself as a hero or Robin Hood figure. How did you get into the head space of the mentality of playing a person like Escobar? So now playing someone like Sergio Mello. Who was you know of a man with very elevated values? I've been answering similar questions like so for me. Pablo Escobar was not a monster as Surjit via Saint both both are are are human beings who of course very different a person's but but I think the thing is to to see them as human Persons as something that goes beyond their the way they're usually seen the biggest drug lord in the history of your our biggest. Un official in history to those labels they don't They are not helpful for anything but especially for an actor cannot of course. George what a characters. Yeah I it was sort of easy for me to almost empathize with Escobar because with your portrayal of him you really got a sense of how trapped you felt in his world and how he could never let his guard down and could never just be happy and satisfied with witty hat. He was a prisoner of his own creation. And that's one of one of the things that drove that home for me. I don't know if anyone's ever asked you about this. But I like to say that you in that role could say more with a grunt or sigh than most actors can say with a whole page of dialogue. Do you know what I'm talking about. You come up with the signature Escobar Cy. That's that's a. that's a nice compliment. Thank you I don't know I I don't know I think he He had these when you got to do to the place where the guy like him. God like in terms of leadership on I think there were things that didn't need to be sad and I think that I like the fact that You could see a lot. From the way he looked at people and that inhibited. He didn't say anything I like that. I think it's a think it's a nice compliment that you'll make thank you. Yeah and you pulled a Robert Deniro. You actually gained forty pounds for that role. How did you gain so much weight and more importantly? How did you drop-off that we add? That's important question because in yeah because gaining weight is the easiest thing in the world is just about you know. Eating eating in waiting decadent amend. My Age wasn't supposed to be eating but getting rid of A. That's that's that's complicated. So what I did was most of all. I wanted to get rid of of of of the energy of Pablo was. That wasn't my body but that wasn't neither my energy so I what I did was A. I did this Vegan Diet for for for a y till today. Don't eat need to do that in Brazil. I mean Brazilians love is. How do you do that? It's not easy but but I feel good. I feel an yeah and this thing about gaining weight. Something that I want. I don't WanNa do it anymore. Yeah it's it's It's not it's not good at all. It's very bad for your health. Okay so only skinny roles from now on on a skinny row executive expect scare all from now on. You're in great shape and this Newfield was. The surgery was you. He was older than I am when he when he died in the film The timeframe that we chose for films the last years of his life he was already fifty five. I'm thirty I'm forty four three. It was for two in Charlotte and But he was pretty much in shape he was a guy who took very good care of his of his Physicality he was jogging and he was a very handsome Dude in a how did you first come to this project for me like I said? It's this all began when For my interest in in the UN. I was very fascinated by this organization that is in utimately is is about human rights. It's about taking care of making sure that everybody in the world is going to be respected in in in their most basic rights. I am a human rights activist and this has been a very important thing in my life and especially coming from Brazil and I am a UN. Goodwill Ambassador have been working with the United Nations for ten years. I think you mentioned that you first became aware of Sergio de Mello. When you're in college but when did you begin to really take an interest in his story as someone you might WanNa play on screen? I actually started to. I knew who surgery was in a new who wasn't important person in the UN but to pay attention to really start to study and read and about him after he was killed after two thousand three because there was very very shocking and strong for me. Because there was the first time that you win was the central target of terrorists. That's true and and he was killed there. We're GONNA take a quick break and then I'll be back with more when we come back in just a minute. This ad is a warning. Our democracy is under attack from the US Supreme Court in the middle of a deadly global pandemic people across Wisconsin. Were Planning on voting absentee to keep themselves and their families safe but the night before the election five Republican justices on the Supreme Court told thousands of people they would have to choose between risking their lives and forfeiting their right to vote. This supreme court favouring Republican interests over our democracy is nothing new. They gutted the Voting Rights Act. They invited billionaires and corporations to spend unlimited amounts trying to influence elections. They gave a green light to gerrymandering voter. Id Laws and voter roll purchase now. A progressive movement is rising up to fight back. Because it's quite possible. The Wisconsin case won't be the last twenty twenty showdown over voting rights to be settled in the courts. And we simply can't trust this court to put aside partisan views and protect people's right to vote. Our courts are becoming too political. It's time to say enough. Learn more about how you can join the fight. By visiting demand justice DOT ORG slash kick. That's demand justice dot org slash kick and I also heard that one of the things that drew you to this part was a personal desire to broaden how Latin Americans are portrayed in film and television. Tell us about that. I WANNA produce more films. I I'm one of the producers of this film of Sergio and I have I I really want produce films here in the US. About letting people Latinos but films that daunte reinforces stereotypes and especially after play. Pablo ESCOBAR UP. I wanted to a to bring the example of of Latino of a Brazilian man in that dozen Fit IN A in a in a stereotypes that the way letting people have been seen in the Hollywood movies. Do you think that sort of these superficial depictions of Latin Americans as violent Tony Montana scarface types or Latin lovers sort of deny the depth and humanity of Latin Americans. Yes yes definitely. In and specially doesn't represent what what does Group is in the American society we are. We are a big a social group here and obviously the most represented one no not only in the amount of characters but also in like you said in the way that this characters are are represented. Well it's a hell of a median deep role to play. It's a fantastic part for for anyone. Latin or non Latin We see in this film that Sergio was sort of seen. As something of a hero in places like East T- more and he's meeting with Presidents and close friends with Kofi Annan. Was He as well known in his home country of Brazil as he was everywhere else apparently around the world know. That was another reason to make this film. I think I I really wanted to be more of acknowledged a mormon in there and especially right now where there's a big lack of good representation in my country. So yeah the fact that he is Brazilian in not only in Brazil managing the coronavirus crisis exposing how we how a leaders are being exposed in their mediocrity in there a lack of values of elevated values in surgery like I said he was a very pragmatic man. He was not a naive dude. He was a very pragmatic person even the way he saw human rights but everything that he did in his life was led by very very elevated values. And if I could summarize what this film is about our to the Sergio's biggest quality which was a empathy in the ability of of looking at people as people not as a statistics or numbers are and I think this is a something that lacks lot nowadays. Yeah it's interesting that you say that because I know that the film is based on a book by Samantha Power. Who's been a guest of the show? Before and what I always say about Samantha. Power is as cynical as we can be about politicians and diplomats for her one thing that is crystal clear is the job was never just theoretical or about statistics for her. He has this real empathy. For how policy affects real people's lives for better or for worse. Do you think that Sergio was pretty much the same way absolutely. Yes and I in. When you read some of this book you can understand Har- or administration for surgery because she is a person who also sees the world with those lands but that's that that kind of perspective in Sergio Mello took on some of the toughest diplomatic posts in some of the most difficult regions of the world. What are some of the places where he worked all everywhere? I think surgery was a purpose demand of his generation who had witnessed the biggest amount of catastrophists in human suffering in his being Lebron Rwanda Bosnia of course eastern more Iraq the rule self Maho South America Asia. He's been everywhere and he and he was a because of those those qualities that made him a very unique person with him but also things that he had learned in the so born and in his work at the UN like I said when he started working in the UN he started in the field he started with refugees like bringing shelter and food in any any any direct contact with With poverty which suffering with so. It's it's not a. It's not a very common of a thing. So surgery was very unique. It was a very unique man. Yeah and Sergio. Mello opposed the war in Iraq on legal and moral grounds but yet he accepted the job as U N representative in Iraq during the war How do you rationalize that decision? It isn't that tragic. I think that the fact that we chose this the last years of a searchers life was because of all these contradictions. You know the fact that the one of the things that fascinates me about the UN is not only the role they win has in the world but also the dynamics of the UN and powerful countries especially in the US the trump has just a said he withdraw the money that the US used to sand to who right so and so this. This dynamic is very for job. You win is very Is still very dependent on the US and at and so they the UN do were clearly and openly against the invasion and even Dole. They had to be there to help rebuild Iraq of course for humanitarian reasons but also because of its dependency of of the US and soars your he himself. He was a personally against the invasion and he was very ambitious shoes at a man he knew that being in Iraq that position could lead him to be the next secretary-general with which everybody actually thought that he would naturally be but even though he denied the job I think twice or three times and he was convinced by George Bush Condoleeza Rice and Kofi Annan of course but it but like you said the fact that these men these organization that didn't want to be there were a target of of the first terrorist attack that the UN ever suffered in history. I think it makes it even more tragic. Yeah he and twenty members of his staff were killed in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad in two thousand and three. Do you think that history in Iraq might have gone very differently? If Sergio had lived to continue his work there. I think so I think so. I have no doubt about it. And there's another big contradiction in all that. Sergio was when he when he went to Iraq when he was sent to Iraq the U. N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. And then he got there of course he he understood all the did the coalition were. They were all violations that they were doing in concerning Hebron. Riots were very explicit so all this was another big big contradiction Kinda hotel bombing changed The way they win Operated in the world forever in of course surges legacy is a is a legacy of of diplomacy that's You don't see anymore you don't you don't you. Don't see considering an DEGEL POLITIC'S NOWADAYS. It's something that's not. You know when you see countries blaming all their countries for the corona virus or in or was it was watching any to view of former of Brazilian foreign policies. minister The Chancellor of Brazilian is a Brazilian. Foreign policies are He was he worked under Lula and the way he was Speaking with So I made me feel so Knows Tajik of a time. Where high venues ladd in this kind of conversations of I think that what we are witnessing nowadays with the Karna viruses is We are in a situation where the world is for. Sure going to change drastically after this. There is a it's a. It's a very unique point in our history So it's an I in my personal opinion. I think it's obvious that we are witnessing a strong crisis of capitalism itself. We don't know yet what this is going to be. After the but for sure. It's going to be opposed. Capitalism oppose kept capitalism. That can become either a post capitalist. Societies are going to go into a more of fair way or the opposite for sure. This crisis is going to raise a lot inequality in in the world So it's the one of the anguish is of of of living. This does not to know In which direction the world's going to go but for sure this is going to change and I think that Sergio and like I said this minister of foreign of a relationship that was they were part of of a moment in history where we were really. I think that we were going into a very interesting direction. If you believe that that a fairness and social social justice and A respected human rights in his spectrum and believe in climate change and believe in science in belittling culture. I if all that consider your topic we were going into that in that direction and I think that the world we took the opposite path very quickly and I think that this crisis is coming to a to make us think meditate and reflect overall this. Yeah I certainly think that we could stand to see a lot. More of the kind of empathy that Sergio showed from our political leaders as the world copes with the corona virus. I have to mention the director of this film. Is Greg Barker Another person who's been a good guest of the show. Greg is very well known as a documentary. Filmmaker also spent time working as a war correspondent. Do you think his experience in war zones added an extra layer of realism to this film. I think so. I think more than that. I think that Greg. And of course Samantha Power. They knew so much about Sergio in about geopolitics and about that specific timeframe that chose to to to make the film about I felt always felt very of safe with the Greg's knowledge of all that particular part of history. Yeah prior to this. Greg had made an excellent documentary about Sergio de Mello. Did you watch his documentary before you took on this role many times? Really? Yeah Man. It's also Greg Davis. Every all the footage that he didn't use in the dock that he had to leave a outside the dock. He gave it to us so it was a very high. We had a lot of material about surgery about Iraq and the occupation. More generally when you play a character like Escobar or like Sergio. Do you do a lot of research into the real man or do you prefer to kind of come to the role with fresh eyes and let the script beer guide what I do is I I I I I mean. I may vary very very deep research about the character when I play like. You said like those so-called Rio character characters based on real people. I make a very deep research biscuit. Read than watch everything about this person as a researcher and then I go Joe Second Phase where I forget about everything that I that I've read or seen and create anything create my own version of of that character. I see the character with my own eyes. I connect my feelings that character because this is not surgery. I'm not public. There are things that you have to for example. I don't know what what Sergio felt when he was under the rubble. But I can put myself in that position and I think what would icing. What would I feel if I was there of course so the amount of things that I've read an extended about him? Make me kind of behave and talk like him and because it's so under my skin that it's a it's seen their raid. It doesn't it doesn't go a through the path of imitation but it comes from a deeper perspective but at the same time is this is sort of a mixed between the character and myself and how I see him and how I see the world in how I see the world was in this film on three different continents did that. Make a pretty grueling production schedule. There was another of the one of the greatest thing about this This film because we were making a UN guy and For me it was very very to have of course not not only different landscapes different locations but different flavors in different actors in different accents in different so we have actress from all around the world like About a UN person should be under the autumn roses from Cuba. Clemens Shaka's from Germany. Brian from Brian is from the island. We we have actors from UNGAVA from Iraq from Jordan from Thailand. From so I think that there was a very important thing. Afford film to have different ethnicities different accents. Different people in that from including extras because we used one of the beautiful things for me. The most emotional parts of the families when all the scenes A nasty more worsens that we shot in Thailand. But we brought Timorese is from From Mr Moore to being in those scenes in it so when when you see Sergio in that village when he you know made That lady and all all those people are from these two more and they were all all of them. New Surgeon new importance that surger had to their history and So I think that it was a very important thing regardless of what this is going to look like a on this. Krant for me personally. That was a very important thing. Yeah I was fascinated to read that. All of the extras used in the Iraq scenes were actual Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the scenes that were shot in Thailand and supposed to be in. East Timor. Used many extras who were from East Team. More and actually experienced what you were filming. Did you get a chance to speak with them and hear their stories? Oh Yeah Oh yeah I mean we. That was very bitter for the Timorese as they were. They were so happy to be there in into telling us that story specifically we. They brought a lot of gifts of for us like coffee from UC. More and those are scarves. They did a handmade there and we had a lot of Manny. Conversations about a derailed. I was very interested in seeing in and no Perspective on on in there for independence from Indonesia and the road. Un and surgery played in all that well? The film is just fantastic. A very moving movie once more. Sergio is now streaming on Netflix Wagner. Mara thanks so much for talking with me. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to care of herself. Thanks again to Wagner Moura for coming on the PODCAST. See Him in Sergio. Now streaming on Netflix. If you enjoyed today's podcast be sure to subscribe to us on Apple podcasts and rate and review us while you're there five star ratings detailed reviews or one of the best ways for new listeners to discover the show you can also follow us on facebook or on twitter at at kick. Ass News Pod in recommend us to your friends on your social media remorse funds duff visit kick ASS News Dot Com and I welcome your comments questions and suggestions at comments at kick ASS news dot com for now. I'm Ben Mathis and thanks for listening to kick ASS news.