The last time Kate Del Castillo and I exchanged words it was in person. She was at the peak of her post Reina Del Sur fame and she was in Houston for a promotional event. We chit-chatted over a couple of drinks in a room full of other Del Castillo fans who were just as awestruck as myself to be in her presence. Kate was friendly and open to our conversation, albeit a little bit guarded due to the gawking going on in the room, but there just wasn’t enough time that time for any real conversation with the Mexican actress. This week, however, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to talk to her one-on-one over the phone about her role in La Reina Del Sur and a couple of other topics, including the whole Twitter controversy and the rumors about a sequel to this runaway hit of a series.
She was friendly and bien mexicana as usual, throwing out phrases like pa no regarla and no puede ser chafa, during our 20 minute conversation. The funny thing is I was more nervous to talk to her one-on-one over the phone than I was to have met her in person. A couple of times I was just mumbling to her, LOL! I think it was that deep Teresa-esque voice that made me shake in my boots. Despite my clumsiness we managed to have quite the interesting conversation. For the sake of this blog post I have translated her interview from Spanish to English.
I hope you enjoy it, and by the way thanks to all of you who submitted questions for me to ask. I tried to get as many of them in there as possible. The final episode of La Reina Del Sur will be aired this week, Thursday, June 14, 2012, on mun2.
Me: What one question would you have liked to ask the “real” Teresa Mendoza if you would have had the chance to meet her?
Kate: Oh my… how did she bare with all this tragedy around her, and what is her life like now, now that everyone around her is gone? …Why she made the choices she made even though she knew a lot of them were wrong? I think that’s what made her great… and so interesting.
Me: Do you have a theory about what happened to La Reina Del Sur? Do you think she’s still alive?
Kate: Oh no! No. No. She’s not real. It’s based on real events, but it’s definitely fiction. (laughing)
Me: Which do you consider has been the most challenging role of your career to date?
Kate: Definitely one of the most difficult has been Teresa because she is a character that in many ways is similar to me, and those are the hardest roles to play. Also because of the length of time in her life that we were bringing to the story, 10 years… to introduce her as the young innocent girl and to make her grow into La Reina Del Sur was not easy thing to do. I also think the most recent movie role I just completed for K-11 where I play a transgender individual was also pretty challenging. They’re both very controversial and difficult roles. Difficult, because if you don’t play them just right they’re not believable.
Me: Why do you choose such difficult and different roles for yourself?
Kate: Well because they are the most difficult to interpret and I like things that scare me and that are difficult… roles that challenge me. I’ve always said that “easy roles are not for me.” The easy stuff doesn’t interest me. I like to have fun. I like to do things that are completely different. I’m constantly in search of interesting characters.
Me: What was the most challenging part about this character, and what do you think you identified most with about her?
Kate: I think understanding her from her point of view. Understanding why she did the things she did without judging her. I think that’s the main thing as an actor, to not judge your characters, because if you do you start losing the ability to play them objectively… just trying to understand her was a constant challenge. I think I most identified with her ability to love… that was one thing she did know how to do… What she was always trying to do was to survive. Survive in a man’s world; survive in a world that was constantly getting harder and harder for her… she was always trying to survive. For me, it was never that she wanted the life she led, but that it was her destiny and that those were the cards life had dealt her.
Me: Is there a La Reina Del Sur Part II in the works, and are you a part of it if there is?
Kate: Well I’m definitely very excited that there is so much interest out there. It means that people would like to have a little bit more of this character and this story and that’s exciting… Yes, there have been talks. The truth is there have been, but there is nothing confirmed or concrete right now. We’d have to see first if Arturo Perez-Reverte has that story to tell… If there is a story, then we have something to work with, but we can’t just do something for the sake of doing it, especially given the success La Reina Del Sur has achieved. It would have to be something good that people would enjoy. No puede ser algo chafa.
Me: You seem to have a lot of respect for this character?
Kate: A lot. A whole lot. And for all of the roles that I have ever played. I can’t discount any of them. If it’s not with Arturo Perez-Reverte well then there is no story, and he says the same thing – if there is no Kate there is no story. So let’s just wait and see what happens… Right now there are only talks.
Me: What can we expect from Kate Del Castillo in the future?
Kate: Hijole, pues no sé. We never know. For sure, I know lots of work… new and interesting projects are on the horizon. I hope I get the opportunity to keep playing interesting and controversial roles like this one.
Me: Do you think the entertainment industry is changing for Latinos, both in English and Spanish media outlets?
Kate: Absolutely! Slowly, but surely thing are changing… The truth is there are a lot of new projects where we are no longer just the maids and the gardeners, the prostitutes only. There is a lot more variety and diversity in the opportunities out there… Strides have been made, but there is still a long way to go.
Me: Will we be seeing you in Hollywood again soon?
Kate: Hopefully, but you know, I go where there is work.
Me: You have a long trajectory in the industry, is there a particular role that you look back at and think “oh my God, I can’t believe I did that?”
Kate: Wow, well you know I had my first movie role at the age of nine… and well, there have been many, many of those. We all have our embarrassing moments, no? (laughing)
Me: What can you tell me about the rest of the cast?
Kate: All of the Spanish actors were wonderful and talented. The truth is they are great friends of mine now. We shared so much time together and faced so many obstacles together that we created a bond and a friendship. They are all wonderful and I have nothing but appreciation for them… as far as the Mexican actors, what can I tell you? Some of them I had already worked with, some of them I hadn’t, but all of them were great as well. I have a lot of great memories from the telenovela. It was a really fun project to be a part of. I don’t have any bad memories from it, besides the long hours… (laughing)
Me: So the investment on the part of Telemundo was worth it?
Kate: Without a doubt! Without a doubt it was a visionary move and I am sincerely grateful that they gave me the opportunity to play Teresa Mendoza. It was a huge role for my career and it was a huge role for the network.
Me: It sort of raised the bar for all other telenovelas right?
Kate: Absolutely, I think things are constantly getting better… and I think the fact that the ratings for La Reina were higher than all of the other US major networks at times speaks volumes for the US Hispanic market and its prowess.
Me: Some of my readers and I want to know how you manage to stay so youthful and beautiful all of the time? Are there any beauty secrets you could share?
Kate: I drink lots of water and make sure I eat well. I also think exercise is important. It helps a lot, no?
Me: Now that you’re such an international star, how do you feel to be representing your country as a Mexican actress?
Kate: Hay que lindo… gracias por eso. Everywhere I go, I’m always very proud to pronounce that I am mexicana.
Me: I know there was some controversy about your opinions regarding the goverment in Mexico and the drug cartels. Do you think people want you to have an opinion about it because of your role as Teresa Mendoza?
Kate: I think so. I think some people are curious about what I might think about it because of the telenovela, but the truth is I really don’t have a lot to opinionate about this situation, especially when there have been so many deaths because of it in Mexico. All I can say is that I am sad about what has happened and what is happening… but it is our Mexico and our country and we have to keep supporting it.