Nobody crosses Pablo Escobar. Nobody.
The romantic drama “Escobar: Paradise Lost” is currently playing in limited theaters in America. The film stars Josh Hutcherson, Benicio Del Toro and Claudia Traisac in this film.
Here’s the synopsis:
When a young surfer begins a relationship with the niece of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, he finds his life on the line after being pulled into the dangerous world of the Escobar family business.
Latino-Review had an exclusive one-on-one interview with the lovely Spanish actress Claudia Traisac. We discussed several topics including Pablo Escobar, Josh Hutcherson, Benicio Del Toro, Colombia and even the difficulties of an English performance.
“Escobar: Paradise Lost” is currently in theaters.
Read the full interview transcript below.
Latino-Review: Tell me on why you were attracted to this project.
Claudia Traisac: For everything. I did an audition. In my third audition, I just loved it. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the environment of the script. My character, Maria, is a very strong woman. She has so many changes during the script.
[Once] I met the director Andrea [Di Stefano], he realized he is a really, really good director. My audition was a three hour audition and I was completely blown away with his ability to direct. I said to myself, “I really wanted to work for him!” It’s because he really pushes you to your limits. That’s really cool. And with these other actors, it was like a dream project for me.
Latino-Review: About your character, Maria is the niece of Pablo Escobar. She seems to be kind of naïve about her uncle and doesn’t realize it till the end. Tell me about the changes/transformations and on why you thought Maria is a strong character.
Claudia Traisac: I think she is a strong character, because she has a really strong personality even if she’s naïve with all these things. It’s really hard to understand on why she doesn’t judge her uncle. I was doing my research on Pablo Escobar and the Colombian people by talking with Colombian families before the movie. I was looking at this contradiction on why Maria was not doing anything and on why she doesn’t see the real face of Pablo.
I discovered that it’s because of her location. She was raised in this world of Pablo Escobar. She felt that she was really protective and saw her uncle as a hero for his work in the communities. She only saw the good face of Pablo.
I think she is really strong, because she really believes in herself. She is a strong woman who fights for love. In a bad moment, you would show on who you really are. So when Maria discovers the truth of Pablo, she fights to be with Nick and against her uncle. She never gives up all the way to the end.
Maria is a really brave woman. She is a victim of Pablo like so many people in Columbia. It’s representative in this world we live. We have this person who is so charismatic and a good face that you’ll get trapped in his work.
Latino-Review: Now how much research did you do on Pablo Escobar and what do you think of him?
Claudia Traisac: [Chuckles] At first, I barely knew on who he was and didn’t know so many things about him. When I read the script, I was so shocked about this person. I started to watch the documentaries and read about the books on Pablo.
For me, the most shocking thing was when I talked with this Columbian family who told me about all these stories about that time. They would tell me like, “One of my cousins was killed by one of his guys.” My reaction was “What!?!”
I think he was horrible on what he was doing back then and to that country. I can’t believe that there were people like that who would do anything to keep their power. My mind simply can’t [comprehend] that. It was really shocking for me to learn all of that.
Latino-Review: When Benicio Del Toro portrayed Pablo Escobar, what was your initial reaction to working with him? Was it scary? Was it cool? Was it a whole bunch of emotions?
Claudia Traisac: I was really impressed on working with him. I love his acting and he is one of my favorite actors always. I was like admiring him at the beginning. He was really always focused on the character and really into the character. I was really surprised. I never really knew on I was talking to Pablo and talking to Benicio.
I was so excited in the beginning, because it was such a dream to work with him. I had this admiration for him just like Maria had for Pablo. He was really nice with me and helped me a lot [on the set]. He was a person who would talk Spanish me to make me more comfortable. That was my support.
When you started to work with him, he was such a brutal actor. He was so intense. There were moments that I was like intimidated by him since he is such a strong actor. He worked in a completely different way than I’ve [experienced] before. It was very special.
Latino-Review: Tell me about developing that chemistry between you and Josh Hutcherson.
Claudia Traisac: We had that chemistry with the very first moment. It felt really real. I really like on how he works, because he is really honest person. He would look at you and he really listens to you. It was really good to work with him. I didn’t know on what to expect since he was this actor from “The Hunger Games.” I was a little afraid. It turns out he is the most humble guy I’ve ever known. It was really good to work with him and really fun.
Latino-Review: Was it odd or different? I mean like did you know him before the movie?
Claudia Traisac: Actually, no. I didn’t see “The Hunger Games” before. I knew on who he was. I had admiration of him, but I didn’t realize the fame he had. He is an American actor and I mostly worked with Spanish actors before. It was a big difference for me.
Latino-Review: How’s his Spanish?
Claudia Traisac: Good! Really good! [Laughter] It’s really good! He learns really fast. I am trying to learn English and he learned Spanish already. He learn things really fast and he has a really good accent. I’m really jealous of him! [Laughter]
Latino-Review: Was it really difficult for you to be in a project that has English? You have a long resume of Spanish projects.
Claudia Traisac: I didn’t know English when I did the movie. It was very difficult since I was going for the basic level of words. It was hard, but at the same time—it was an adventure. The character didn’t really know how to speak English that well. The Columbian people and Pablo Escobar didn’t really know how to speak English in real life.
So it felt very natural in the whole story since I didn’t know that much English. Yeah, it was really hard because sometimes I would have dinner with the actors and didn’t understand them. Sometimes the director coming and telling me things and I was like, “Could you talk slower? I don’t know what you are wanting in this scene?” [Laughter] It was completely difficult, but at the same time it made everything so special.
Latino-Review: You’re speaking English to me right now. You seem to completely understand everything.
Claudia Traisac: Yeah. I learned. [Laughter]
Latino-Review: You’re still learning English?
Claudia Traisac: Yeah. Of course. Of course. I enjoy taking classes in English. I learned in school with a basic grade level of English during the movie. Now I really want to improve my accent.
Latino-Review: Do you want to do more English projects?
Claudia Traisac: I would love to work with anything that I could work with. If there’s a project in English, then I will go ahead and do it. I really enjoy the project in English since there’s something about it. I love American TV and American movies. It felt really good working in English. It was really difficult, but at the same time—it’s so different from working in Spanish. I like it and I feel comfortable in doing it.
Latino-Review: Was this project filmed in Central America? How was it being on a production from these small towns to a huge villa?
Claudia Traisac: Everything we were shooting was just so special. I’m from Spain and I’ve never left my country before. I had to move to Panama for three months. It was so special with everything and it was such a different culture. Nobody just hung out in their homes. The family was with our crew. The environment was just incredible.
We filmed in Bocas del Toro, which is an island in Panama. It is a paradise. Everyone is so happy being there, because we filmed on these beautiful beaches and [forests]. It was so special for me to be three months away from my home on an English project like this. It was so crazy.
Latino-Review: You want to go back?
Claudia Traisac: I would love to go back! [Laughter] I would sign on right now to do this again.
Latino-Review: So what was the most difficult thing you had to do on this project?
Claudia Traisac: There were just so many things. It was special and so difficult for me. First of all, I had to learn English. I had to work in a language that [I’m not familiar with]. Then I have to have an accent that would be different from Spain. I had to be this Columbian girl, which is completely different from being a Spanish girl. The way they talk is completely different.
Then there are the hard scenes like the drama scenes. They are really intense. When Maria discovers [the truth] about her uncle was really tough. A lot of the movie is about the love between Maria and Nick, but then we had to go to this dark place [of Pablo Escobar]. I was so into the character. I was so sad and was so destroyed by the story. I felt so bad for her. I did connect with the character so much.
Latino-Review: Wow. That is pretty intense.
Claudia Traisac: It is definitely intense. It’s intense for the beautiful things and the hard things in the movie.
Latino-Review: Can you talk about any future projects you may have?
Claudia Traisac: Right now, I’m doing to Spanish TV shows and a play in Spain. Who knows? I don’t know what else I will have the future. There are just so many things. I’ll be coming here too and we’ll see what happens.
Latino-Review: Thank you for this conversation and I was cheering for you all the way to the end.
Claudia Traisac: Yeah. Poor girl. [Laughter]
“Escobar: Paradise Lost” is currently playing in theaters.