Strong, sensitive, Santos- (São Paulo state) born hunk Marcio Rosario samba-ed his way into Los Angeles in 1997. Although he's been working non-stop in the City of Angels, in big ticket films like Collateral Damage, The Scorpion King, The Thin Red Line, Fight Club, The General's Daughter, he never turned his back on his beloved Brazil.
Brazil has been very good to Marcio. It offered him stardom on the musical stage where his work in Grease, Beauty and the Beast, Cyrano de Bergerac and Sleeping Beauty was applauded. He starred in Balada de um Palhaço (Ballad of the Clown) by famous Brazilian playwright Plínio Marcos, and paid his dues on the Brazilian stage in Equity shows like Extremities, The Would Be Gentleman, and Comedy of the Sexes, which broke box office records.
Not bad for a boy whose first role was playing a pig. Marcio discovered early on that acting was his calling. His grandmother was his first fan. She encouraged him, paid for his acting classes and came to his school plays. Marcio adores her. She returned the love. Marcio: "I was born in Santos, left when I was 9 years old for theatre reasons. We were doing this play about colors, we traveled all over Brazil. When I got back, I moved with my grandmother to São Paulo."
Marcio shared his dreams with her. "She was the first person that I told that I wanted to be an actor. She took me to school." Marcio has always been a quick study. "At six years I was in my first play as a little pig. My closest friends play with me. They say I started as a little pig then I became a big pig ." [Laughter]
Marcio did a lot of plays and he sings as well. Marcio: "I love musical theatre. Going from that to thrillers is a big leap, theatre and movies are my biggest passions." Marcio also did a ton of Brazilian TV. "I did our version of sitcoms. We don't have a laugh track. We did 26 episodes for 26 weeks. Every week a different story. There isn't an ongoing storyline. Brazilians love watching the soaps."
Everyone thinks of Brazilians as very sexy people. Is that true? Marcio: "It is true. Because of the economy, we went through so much in the last 30 years. The only thing that we do have for free is the beach. Everybody goes to the beach. That's the reason I think that the sexuality comes very easy for us; it's very common to go to a nude beach. All my friends here ask how can you go to a nude beach?! There it's normal."
This writer can think of a few women who would buy the ticket to Brazil to see Marcio and his friends on that beach. Marcio's very clear about his strengths as an actor. "Growing up in Brazil, the movie industry was big, but not exactly what I wanted to be doing. It was the erotic, comic style. It wasn't what I felt best suited to. We have great actors who come from that traditionpeople like Sônia Bragabuy you need to know how to do it to make it right."
The Brazilian film industry has been changing. Marcio: "The whole sensual thing hasn't been done for five or six years. We have a very nice culture, and people still don't know anything about the country. Films like Central Station were very important and that's the future of Brazilian cinema."
Some facts about Marcio: He's never standing still. "I love to travel." A diverse cultural mix, Marcio's part Portuguese, Polish, native Brazilian and half Spanish from Spain. That's where the name Rosario comes from. Marcio: "My dad was born in Spain; my grandfather was from Madeira, I've been to Spain many times. There's even a Rosario street in Lisbon!" Marcio's passionate about everything. That passion pours into his work. A dedicated actor, Marcio's even been jailed in the line of duty.
At 12 he was in the streets doing research for his role in Young Girl by director Wilson Rodrigues and he was arrested! "Basically I got pulled over by the cops. They me in a juvie jail, overnight. The first person I called was the director. I said, "It's your fault, you wanted research!" Another brush with the police came years laterhe was innocentjust following orders! "When I was promoting the movie City of Lost Souls I was taking the train from Geneva to Paris. They told us never to open the door unless the police slip their ID under the door. Apparently there's a lot of crime on the trains.
"A few hours later, there's a knock at the door. They said, `Open up, police!' I said, `If you don't show me your ID, I won't open!' They broke down the door. It really was the police. There were drug dogs all over me they searched through my things and the first thing they saw was the poster of the movie. They said, `Oh, we're so sorry' I just said, `Can you please take the dogs off me?"
Marcio takes everything with good humor. Ironically, as regular cast member on American soap Days of Our Lives, Marcio plays tough guy Officer Santos of the Los Angeles Police Department busting soap offenders. His distinctive chuckle and soft, gravely voice is used to dub top US stars Bruce Willis, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, Rupert Everett and Dean Cain when dubbed into Portuguese.
Fresh from shooting the most challenging role of his career to date in renowned Japanese director Takashi Miike's daring film: City of Lost Souls, Marcio outdid even himself, speaking Portuguese, Spanish, English and Japanese with a Chinese accent. The film was released around the world; it opened at the Toronto Film Festival and has played in Canada, Japan, Turkey, France, Sweden and the U. S..
Marcio: "When I read this scriptmy part was of this talk show host in Japan, like a Jerry Springer-type guy, someone who makes money off people's miseryI asked myself can I play this guy? It was really far from me. It was based on a true story. I ordered the book from Amazon, and it came in Japanese! I had to have it translated. Then I fell in love with the part. Then I began the auditions."
It took four months. "At the time I was working on Sunset Beach where you have to really be in shape. This character wasn't in shape at all and the director asked me if I could go for six months without working out. My first response was no! I almost lost the job right then." The film proved to be a great learning experience for Marcio : "I worked with one of China's greatest actors, but there was this one drawback: this actor didn't like to rehearse!", Marcio groans
"I can appreciate wanting to feel the moment, but this was my first time ever speaking Japanese with a Chinese accent!" To top it off, the director did not speak English. We had to do the whole thing with a translator. I was in Japan for six months."
The director wanted to use the actual seasonsspring and summer. Marcio: "He's a real artist and was voted one of the top ten directors outside the USA by Time Magazine. It's really interesting to see how people work outside of Hollywood."
Marcio recently completed Mexican writer/director Jackie Torres's film El Precio Del Sueño Americano (The Price of the American Dream) in which he played Detective López and also has a development deal with Koesch/Winterman Productions to host a TV show for the Brazilian market. He did the highly successful Brazilian Variety show called Brazil TV. The show did extremely well, receiving international prizes and the Best Foreign Television Show in America Award.
Marcio also pays his dues, encouraging young Latinos to reach for the stars and stay out of trouble, visiting schools as part of the prestigious National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. Marcio: "This is such an incredible organization. It was started in 1997 by Sônia Braga, Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales. These are dedicated actors of the highest integrity, all pulling together to do something for young Latino kids and Latinos in the industry." Marcio's very proud to be a part of this.
What's the biggest difference between the States and Brazil? Marcio: "When I came to the U.S. it was the first time I felt racism. In Brazil we do have different classes and you know who's rich- and who's poor. There's nothing to do with the color. It took me a long time to understand what's going on with this in the U.S.. In Brazil we had black slaves, we had white slaves, we had Chinese slaves...
"There's a beautiful soap opera in Brazil about a white slave who had to fight for her freedom. In Brazil blacks brought a dance ritual, the capoeira. It's like martial arts mixed with dance. Brazil's culture is incredibly rich."
What does the rest of the Latin world need to know about Brazil? Marcio: "We are a huge cultural mix! We have the second biggest Japanese community outside Japan. Even bigger than New York's. Brazil's a very peaceful place. If you just want to party, that's the place to go. Sometimes though it gets to be too much even for me."
Through the Pain
I traveled with Ballad of a Clown, a play by writer Plínio Marcos, who was known as `the evil writer'. He was able to say through his characters the words that everyone wanted to say about what was going on in the country with all the unrest.' Marcio: " This is about two clowns trying to survive, who got sidetracked by the survival and the money. The first time I read the script I thought-this is about actors, the second time I read it I thought-no-this is about any career in life it's basically about when do you sell yourself out for your dream to pay your rent?" Marcio:
"It was so beautifully done. They hired a Brazilian guy who's living in France to teach us clowning. We had a three month rehearsal to learn the whole clown thing. Something very interesting happened during the opening night. I started the play with flips. During the show, when I did the three flips, I stood up and I heard this CLACK! I said, `oh, I think I just broke the chair!' But it was this muscle here [he points to a calf muscle on his left leg], the muscle just tore away from the leg, it just dropped.!
"We had a full house800 people. In my home town, everybody was there and I have three minutes to think. I went and found a piece of rope and wrapped it around my leg to hold the muscle in place; for an hour and a half, I did the play like that in such pain. There was a part at the end where I have to get down, on my knees and make the sign of the cross. When I stood up I lost my balance and I fell over the tent and the whole set went down!
"Nobody thought I was hurt. They thought that because my character was going crazy the whole thing was a `sign'. People were screaming and clapping! My mom was the only one who knew that it wasn't planned because she saw the rehearsal. I went from the theatre to the emergency room! We put the play on hold for two weeks. I had severe muscle damage. Then we went to Portugal, to Argentina, to France. Now we're going to bring the play here to Los Angeles and to New York. Doing it in Portuguese with subtitles in English, at either UCLA or Nosotros theatre."
Unstoppable Marcio Rosario. Fed by the passion for his craft, willing to go out on a limbor break a limb! No wonder audiences love him. They know he's always giving 110 percent.
Marcio Rosario has his own homepage: www.marciorosario.com
Judi Jordan, the author, is also a contributor to Venice Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org