Mariana Treviño Interview

Based on a 2015 Swedish film, A Man Called Otto arrives in Australian cinemas on 1 January 2023.  I recently spoke to one of its supporting stars, Mariana Treviño, about the project…

Matt:  Otto has put up some strong emotional barriers but of all the people in the film, it’s Marisol who cuts through those barriers best.  What is it about your character that you think makes her so successful in doing that?

Mariana:  We Latin people are very expansive and we often barge into a neighbourhood with that energy.  I barge into Otto’s life in a similar fashion but not in an invasive manner.  It’s more like a burst of life and it helps her establish an immediate closeness with Otto.  There’s an instant connection beyond what is rational.  I think we Latin people have that ability and that is portrayed in the film.

Matt:  Marisol is a very animated, chatty person who loves to gesticulate.  Is it a personality you could easily relate to, or did it require a bigger transformation?

Mariana:  It’s a personality I can relate to, but I am more reserved and less friendly than Marisol.  It was within me and so I could tap into the character and it was a joy to do it.

Matt:  She has such a great spirit to her.  What is it you want audiences to take away from the movie in terms of her character?

Mariana:  The idea that anybody can make us reconnect back with life if we’re receptive to the people who are around us.  It doesn’t have to be a very close person.  It can just be someone who comes to you and open up.

Matt:  You get to work alongside one of Hollywood’s most loved actors, Tom Hanks.  Instead of asking if there was anything you learned of him, I’ll flip it around and ask if there was anything you were able to teach him?

Mariana:  No.  I don’t know.  I can tell you that I was happy and humbled to have been given the opportunity to do scenes with him.  We were all learning from him and trying to take everything he gives off into our hearts and souls.  He works from such a truthful, vulnerable, private space and we were all in awe.  Even if we can’t describe it properly, it imprints on us and that’s a gift we get to walk away with.

Matt:  The learning to drive scene with you and Tom Hanks is amusing.  Was it easy being such a bad, stressed-out driver?

Mariana:  Yeah, I had to take classes again because I’d forgotten how to drive with a shift stick.  I took two lessons before so I didn’t crash the car with Tom Hanks in it.  It was fun.  Some of the nerves were real because I wasn’t too keen on the shift stick.  I remember it as one of the most memorable days on the shoot because it all flowed so beautifully and we got to sit in that little car like a capsule going back and forth.  We had a nice chat and we connected.

Matt:  You worked under the direction of Marc Forster who I’ve admired for films like Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner.  How did you two meet and end up working together?

Mariana:  The audition process got to a point where they said okay, you’re still in the mix and the director wants to talk to you.  I did a Zoom with Marc and I remember being very nervous.  He’s such a sweet person and he made me feel very comfortable and welcome to the project.  I instantly wanted to work with him.  Everything in the experience connected in the right way – both with Tom and with Marc.

Matt:  A Man Called Otto is receiving a wide international release.  Is it a much bigger time commitment in terms of all the press and marketing stuff as we head into its release?

Mariana:  We’re very excited to share it with the world.  We created this in a private space and then comes the moment where we roll it out into the world and share.  We’re at that stage right now and I’m so grateful to be part of the process.  I’m hoping it resonates with people.  A lot of people struggled with isolation during the pandemic and so the timing is right for people to see a movie like this.