Belen Rueda Talks The Orphanage

by Brian Tallerico

Belen Rueda gave one of the best performances of 2007 in the magical The Orphanage, a film that is finally rolling out across the country, having its biggest expansion to date today. If The Orphanage has opened in a theater near you, change your plans for this weekend and check it out. You won't regret it. The film is haunting and, quite simply, terrifying, and while the excellent direction by Juan Antonio Bayona and the complex screenplay by Sergio Sanchez deserve credit, it's the incredibly fearless and moving performance by Belen Rueda at the heart of the piece that really makes it tick.


If she was more of a name stateside, people would be talking about Oscar nominations. On a whirlwind trip this week through Chicago, Ms. Rueda took the time to speak to The Deadbolt about the film and its impact around the world.

THE DEADBOLT: You're in nearly every shot of the movie. When you first read the script, did you realized it would be such a physically demanding role? Were you nervous that it might be too physically or emotionally demanding?

BELEN RUEDA: I like the first time that I read a script because it's the only moment when I can feel like the audience. For me, it was very exciting because when I was reading this script I found it very interesting. I have read a lot of scripts and it's very difficult to find ones that are interesting when you read it the first time. I could see that the story was really deep and the way it was told was very interesting. When you see the film, you don't know what is going to happen. I think this character is really good because you she offers an actress many things. At first, she's a strong woman who does what she wants to do. As an actor, you can see something very good in her character. When her son disappears, you can see that, for her, he was the only reason for her to live. At first, I spoke with the director and I wanted that when she changed her mind for it not to be like crazy people in other films where they change a lot. In real life, you change little by little. I think that is more important in this film what you don't see than what you are seeing. It's everything that you feel. Everything that Laura feels is inside of her, not outside of her.

THE DEADBOLT: You told the New York Times that this film is about "something that could happen in real life"? That's not what most people are expecting from a horror film. Could you explain to people who might be curious about the film what you mean by that?

BELEN: Many people ask me if I believe in ghosts. In Spain, all of us believe in ghosts. The real ghosts are the ghosts we have in our minds. All of us have these ghosts when something dark has happened in your life. The film is good because we don't tell what to think about it. Do you want to believe? Do you want to think? Do you want to do? When something very hard happens in your life, many things change in your mind. Sometimes you are lost. You change the meaning of what is happening around you. I think these are the things that happen to Laura. In the film, you can see people who have one view and Laura's view of the same thing. That's what happens in real life in many situations. I think there are ghosts but the ghosts that you have in your mind about death, about losing someone that you loved so much, or if you are put in a very difficult situation. I think that in that moment, the ghosts of your mind come out.

THE DEADBOLT: I interviewed Juan Antonio and Sergio and we spoke a lot about influences on the film. What films or actresses influenced you in your role?

BELEN: When I spoke with the writer and director, they told me that it would be good to watch some films. For example, The Innocents. They told me that they read a book by Henry James called The Turn of the Screw. They are speaking about the ghosts I was just speaking about. One that was funny is that Juan Antonio told me I had to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And I said, "What?!?" But when I was watching the film it was very interesting because you can see in the middle of the film, when Richard Dreyfuss is eating with his family, you can see that he's changed. You can see that he's changing. He's choosing a way very different from the other people around him. Then I could understand why Juan Antonio told me to see this film. Sometimes you have to remember only the things that are very similar to only your story but other times you can use many different things for your character. Like Close Encounters.

THE DEADBOLT: Were you at all nervous about working with a first-time director? How was Juan Antonio different?

BELEN: The first time that I met him was with Guillermo Del Toro and the writer and it was really wonderful. I could see that Guillermo Del Toro was very trusting of Juan Antonio. It's his first film but he was a very secure director. When you have a very secure director, you can be free when you're working. He's very young. I'm older than him. Sometimes my idea might be different from him but, instead of a fight, we put into the film both ideas.

Belen Rueda Talks The Orphanage Page 2

-- Brian Tallerico

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