Leonor Watling: “We came from a garden and now we are more uncomfortable” | Culture

He was 23 years old when Manuel Vicent asked him to read in public some parts of They are from sea, her novel awarded with the Alfaguara, and she was a nervous wreck at the Madrid Book Fair, exposed to the gazes that saw the birth of an actress (also a singer, with Marlango) who has come to work with the greats directors but who never (never) forgot that it is mortal and that fame also deteriorates the most powerful organ of the human being, discretion and elegance. Then she was the protagonist of that They are from sea directed by Bigas Luna. And here he is, elegant, with his mask, before Goya’s black paintings, in the noblest room of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, talking about the present. In the past, 2010, he had told this same journalist that “in Spain we are of virulent extremes.” It was a 35-year-old girl.

Ask. And now, what is this country like for you?

Answer. For everyone it is harsher, more uncomfortable. We came from a garden, a full orchard, and when you are well off financially you are happy, you are living and doing your things, and you are not so bothered by what is around you. Now I think we are all more skin deep, more uncomfortable. So, whatever the next person does, we look at it, we think, it annoys us. But because we are not well, and not only Spain, but in general.

P. It is a global earthquake. Has it affected you in your life?

R. Sure. I am not able to say to what extent, but in the end, as a craftswoman, as an artist, this costs a lot … You are working with the material you have, with what you feel around you, with what you receive, and what you receive is more uncomfortable and harder and harder. I don’t know how to tell you to what extent, but I’m sure that if there were another climate I would be saying other things.

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P. What would you like to be doing now?

R. I would like to be able to write, it is costing me a lot, and I would very much like to be shooting. I really miss working on that part. We’re playing and spinning, and thank goodness I have that. But the interpretation is a bug.

P. And why is he not interpreting?

R. Right now because they haven’t offered me anything. It is a job so dependent on the outside that when it is there it is wonderful … Things that I have done will be released now, on television the second season of Nasdrovia, and a beautiful film by Félix Viscarret, based on the novel From the shadows, by Juan José Millás, although the film will be called Don’t look into people’s eyes. Paco León is incredible as the protagonist, he is a great actor … But the life of an actor, or an actress, is very hard in that sense, you are at home, waiting …

P. That novel says a lot from the inside …

R. Very complicated to do. A guy who locks himself in a closet in a house. It is there, hidden … Suddenly, it has things from the quarantine, “resonances of what has happened to us,” said Paco. It is as if you reread things and they are acquiring new meanings.

On the platforms there are many things to see, but they are still things that do not leave you anything

P. Have you also undergone that rereading?

R. No. I try not to make myself an object of study or to have an objective opinion. It doesn’t help me much, it doesn’t help me. It helps me to do. When I sit down for an interview I say “ah, I had not thought about it”, but in my life it does not occur to me.

P. Now it’s like a confinement, again … How did you do in this confinement?

R. During the confinement I was stopped for a very short time, I was making the audiobook of Harry Potter, Seven books! From January to December stuck as in another reality. It saved me, the coexistence with Gloria Tarridas and Adrián Velasco, who was the sound technician, was wonderful, all three of us as in our bubble. And rolling Nasdrovia. I have gone out as if I had made a parallel journey and I have met injured people. We are all a little hurt.

P. What does what you do while interpreting other lives leave you?

R. I love it. It gives me a lot of freedom, it lets me experience many things without consequences. Is incredible. I think we are all looking for it, that’s why we go to the movies, to live a story, and then go out, have a coffee, not have done anything of what you have been involved in from the screen. Interpreting is that for real: becoming something else and having no consequences. For someone who is shy and thoughtful like me it is a gift.

P. And what has the world you’ve lived in made of you?

R. A lot, a lot, working with a lot of people, the team in the cinema … In music … Musicians are very lonely, we are like single-celled beings that you share at a festival from time to time, but cinema is a honeycomb. You miss that companionship, meeting people who have nothing to do with you, but with whom you are deeply and truly.

Leonor Watling, on the terrace of the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
Leonor Watling, on the terrace of the Círculo de Bellas Artes.Samuel Sanchez

P. Do you think society, and its cultural leaders, are aware of the testimonial role of Spanish cinema, on a par with or above literature?

R. Literature is a more solitary exercise; In the books that Almudena Grandes has written, there are many voices that Spain has, but it is one voice, whatever echo it may have. Cinema is something more social, more open, there are more voices involved in each story. Perhaps that is why it gives the impression that Spain counts more, because I think it is a more joint work… And how is cinema treated? Well, like science, like the environment, like education … We are all a bit on our own, if a movie happens there you see it, you do not feel that it is your responsibility, that the cinema depends on you as a spectator, in the same way that you do not feel that healing depends on you. It seems to me that we are very childish regarding the social responsibility that we have.

Musicians are very lonely, we are like unicellular beings that you share at a festival from time to time, but cinema is a honeycomb

P. The truth is that theaters are not full and the blame is blamed on the cinema.

R. It takes effort to see a good movie, it requires maturity, because something is going to happen to you and when you go out on the street you will feel different. On the platforms there are many things to see, but they are still things that do not leave you anything. I saw in the cinema The power of the dog by Jane Campion, and it does take effort to see a good movie, which moves you. It’s like falling in love, like getting involved, many of us don’t want to. Going to the movies has more to do with a relationship than hooking up with someone at a bar counter.

P. Could it be that a society is being built that is indifferent to the knowledge of the other?

R. To that I resist, I am old, very analogical, all the applications touch my balls a lot, and it bothers me a lot that there are people sitting on the benches with whom you can talk. But I resist the pessimism of “we were better before.” We will find ways to communicate deeply and have deep and meaningful relationships.

P. What has gotten worse?

R. Speed. I am overwhelmed with options and movies and records and stimuli. I can not anymore. I close myself off a lot, I close myself off, I don’t get caught up in networks. In that I am very English. I have a hard time arguing. When I’m very overcome, I lock myself away.

P. He said that we are virulent extremes …

R. I do not like to generalize a country, but it is true that there are many angry and scared people. The speed that makes me lock myself up a lot of people scares him a lot and he holds on very tightly and tries to make sure nothing moves. That’s where populism also comes from, clinging to what seems solid. And I am not saying it about Spain only, you see it in Boris Johnson’s England, in Trump’s America. The need to have bosses like that, on both sides. In the middle it is very difficult to be right now.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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