“It’s a show about what makes us human and not so much about aliens.”

Joanna Ribeiro is one of the actresses Adaptation TV series “The Man Who Fell to Earth” – a science fiction story created by author Walter Teves in 1963 that also led to the emergence of Movie Starring David Bowie in 1976.

This Wednesday, May 4, the series premiered on HBO Max. Story focus An alien arrives on Earth on a mission: learn how to be human and discover the only woman who can help save his species. Together they discover that to save his world, they must first save ours. There are 10 episodes in total.

The cast of “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” an original Showtime production, includes names like Chiwetel EjioforAnd Naomi HarrisAnd Clark PetersAnd Jimmy SimpsonAnd Kate Mulgrew And Bill Nighy, among other things. This is a project Alex Kurtzman And Jenny Lumetproducers of the “Star Trek” saga.

NiT spoke with Joanna Ribeiro during a break from the actress in the recording of another project – the Portuguese film “A Sibila”, which is about to finish recording in the northern region of the country. Read the interview.

How did you get the role?
It was through my self-tape that I did in January or February 2021. I was in Malta filming another series, “Das Boot”, and my agent sent me this suggestion. I kept recording there, and in April, I found out I got the part. At first the character was from Guatemala, then after all they wanted her to have an American accent and they ended up rewriting it to make it Portuguese.

Did the producers make that decision or did Joanna encourage them to do so?
No, I really enjoy my accents and have even worked on Spanish and American accents. But the character has gained attention, and throughout the series she will understand why she is not American, being the daughter of immigrant parents. The fact that she is Portuguese gave her a more interesting background than she initially had. It was a combination of factors that made it work better for everyone.

What attracted you most when this story and character was introduced to you?
I’m a fan of science fiction and interested in the way you often answer questions about what it means to be human. What we do here is not focused so much on aliens and other planets, but more on what we do on Earth, which will have disastrous consequences. The character also intrigued me a lot, because she is a super smart girl, works for the CIA, is an analyst and student at the top of her class. She never runs away from any problems and is never intimidated by men or people at the top of the food chain. It’s interesting to see her dynamic with Jimmy Simpson’s character, her boss, and the way she often gets along with him. It was almost a game of tennis between the two of them, in which he played with tremendous force and was softly hitting the balls and, at the best moment, making a devastating move. It’s so much fun as an actress to be able to work on a character like that. It is someone who receives and interacts, not someone who creates friction. Then I learned that Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet were involved in the project, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Naomie Harris, both the acting and creative part of the series piqued my interest a lot.

How does the CIA’s core intersect with the extraterrestrial that reaches Earth?
The series is adapted from Walter Teves’ book. And 46 years ago, A movie was shot with David Bowie, directed by Nicolas Rouge, which starts from the exact same principle – an alien comes to Earth to save his planet. But in the movie with Bowie, the hero Thomas Newton ends up discovering the vices of humans – alcohol and television and ends up getting a little lost. He also suffers at the hands of the CIA when they try to find out what he is doing on Earth, because they think he is a threat; So it’s a little darker. This series captures the story 40 years later, with the arrival of a new alien to Earth by order of Thomas Newton. Now played by Bill Nighy, it’s as if Bowie’s character has grown old. He’s amazing and it’s not easy to continue the path started by David Bowie into such a distinctive character that has marked a generation. Faraday comes to Earth with the same purpose: to save his planet, which is suffering from severe drought and all aliens are dying. During this process, he tries to understand what makes us human. And it is very interesting, there is an episode – the sixth – that comes from a lot of music, the desire of the creators. I remember Jenny at rehearsals always explaining that every character has their own song.

what was yours
I made a character playlist [risos] And the change continued from Bowie songs to “Heart of Glass.” [de Blondie] So is jazz. Because I think sometimes she was kind of confused and jazz has a lot of not following a rule and I found that very interesting to create the character. We see Faraday discover what it means to be human, love and family – why Justin cares so much about his father even though he is on the verge of death. These are all meaningless things to him. Although it’s a science fiction series, to me it’s more of a series about what human beings are and what makes us human, rather than a series about aliens who come to Earth. It turns out that none of these things.

Science fiction has many stories that make these parallels between fantasy and reality.
And he talks a lot about what’s happening right now, global warming and deforestation that we’re doing, because we’re destroying our planet. The series warns a lot about this.

Do you know the movie with David Bowie? Was it a reference to build this series?
I haven’t seen the movie, just pictures. It’s not easy to find a movie, it’s not a commercial, it’s a cult. In that respect, the series is more accessible than the movie – although the movie is amazing and a must-see for everyone. I saw it when I self-registered. When I self-tape something I really want to do, I try to learn as much as possible about this project, and at the time, I saw the movie and really enjoyed it. Bowie is bigger than anything else in the movie, he’s amazing. Each episode of the series is named after a David Bowie song.

Is Joanna a fan of David Bowie’s music?
I love him! I remember that when he died, there was a party at the Lux Hotel and I went with my friends to remember him. She was very special. All of these things made this series and the character so attractive to me.

Besides the playlist, have you done other things to get into the spirit and build character?
Yes, I took lessons to find out how she communicates. From the start of the conversations with Alex, who told me he thought my character was too similar to Jodie Foster’s in The Silence of the Lambs. She manages to be very cold and to face people in an intelligent way, without getting into aggression. This was something that had always been present in character creation. I’ve seen a lot of movies like that, a lot of documentaries about aliens, I’ve been reading those documents that come out every year about aliens and UFOs, from Area 51 and all that stuff. [risos]. All I could see and read. I’ve watched videos of how CIA agent training works, I’ve tried to build on it and I’ve tried to get a backstory to it through conversations with Alex, because Lisa…so she had to have context.

And this has to do with the fact that the character became Portuguese? Did that help create this context?
No, they did such good homework that all of a sudden, some changing episodes came out and when I read them, I was like, “Oh, how funny.” Since there is a reference to Rainha Santa Isabel and my first theatrical performance I did – in summer school, I don’t even remember my age, but I was very young – I played Queen Santa Isabel. So, when I read it, I found this detail very funny.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in this project?
It might be far from home. We started this series in May last year and there are still a lot of rules regarding Covid in place, so between June and October I didn’t come to Lisbon. Of course, part of our job is to be away and long time away, but I’ve never had the experience of staying away for so long, not being able to come home for the weekend and stay with my family and friends on days I wasn’t filming. Perhaps all of the logistics of imaging with Covid-19 has been the biggest difficulty in a project of this scale. Taking exams every day was the hardest part [risos]. At least in England, they don’t put the swab in the back of the brain as in Portugal [risos].

Do you see yourself doing more and more projects abroad?
I don’t know, it depends on the projects – some make sense and some don’t. I’m not that person who just wants to work outside Portugal. There are very good things to do in Portugal and I hope to continue working here, I am very interested. In the end, it will always depend on the project and the people involved. There are a lot of actors who have done things outside of Portugal who continue to work here. Nothing is seen as something… “Oh, it’s just because there’s no business there.” no. People work in Portugal because they want to, because very good things are done here.

What are you recording now?
I’m shooting an adaptation of “A Sibila” by Agustina Bessa-Luís, directed by Eduardo Brito and produced by Paulo Branco, with Maria Joao Pinho in the lead role. I am her niece. It’s Augustina’s very personal book, almost like a diary of her life – or part of her life. We’re shooting in the North and it’s almost over. Filming took two months. There is narration throughout the movie and it was done by my character. So, I was also working on the text to understand the way Agustina wrote, which has a very specific language.

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