A first surprise role
by Mathieu Loewer
- Hip-hop singer turned actor, Carlos Leal has just snapped up a Swiss Film Award – and a ticket to the Shooting Stars in Berlin – for his part in Snow White by Samir
Cineuropa : In Snow White, you play the main role of Paco. Is this your first big role?
Carlos Leal: No, I already had a first role in a French film, Trinivel (2003) by Hubert Woroniecky which hasn't yet been released. I also had a supporting role in Love Express (2003), a Swiss feature directed by Elena Hazanov. I have also worked for television and performed in shorts, which taught me a lot. But Snow White is the greatest cinematic adventure that I have known so far. We shot in different towns, on several different sets, but also in different seasons… It was very intensive!
When did you first meet the Swiss-Iraqi director Samir?
About ten years ago when I was working on the docufiction Babylon 2. We got rather worked up because he wanted to reveal things about me that I didn't feel like revealing. He is an extremely intelligent person... He has been around for a long time in Swiss cinema, but with Snow White he had the courage to do something different that nobody expected: he brings the viewer from a fairytale to hell... At the Locarno Festival, where the film was presented, this boldness didn't please everyone and some critics, especially professional critics, seemed to me to go over the top to the point of being cruel.
Does what Snow White has to say about drugs seem over the top or just right to you?
Young people, teenagers especially, are hit with a blow. When Samir talks about coke, that doesn’t detract from its glamorous and attractive dimension.
For your main role in Samir's film you won a Swiss Film Award and you were also named as Swiss Shooting Star 2006...
I am very honoured and moved to have received the Swiss Film Award, but I am a little uncomfortable with the notion of "best actor", because there are quite a few "best actors" in Switzerland. "Best actresses" too! That is why I am dedicating this award to them. I was surprised to receive this distinction and I had difficulty in accepting it – now it’s better! – but when they announced that I had been chosen to represent Switzerland in Berlin, I didn't hesitate for a second. That suited me perfectly... I am very proud to be going to the Shooting Stars in Berlin, as the Berlin Film Festival is an international event with a very European dimension and I feel completely European. My parents are Spanish, I speak Spanish, but I grew up in Switzerland and today I work in Paris. I won’t necessarily spend the rest of my life there, as the world is a big place! There's also New York, Los Angeles or Madrid... French, South American and Mexican cinema interest me a lot.