A star is born in A Fantastic Woman. As Marina, the transgender nightclub singer ostracised and humiliated by her late lover’s family, Daniela Vega is the driving force behind Sebastián Lelio’s absorbing drama. Her passionate and moving performance is one of the year’s most memorable pieces of screen acting, as well as marking another breakthrough moment for transgender representation in cinema. We sat down with Vega to discuss it.
Do you remember the first conversations you had about this film with Sebastián Lelio?
Of course, how am I not going to remember that? That process of research is a little bit more private. I can tell you about what you see in the film, but the process I think belongs to us.
So what was your reaction when he asked you to play the lead role?
At first he told me that he was doing the research on something so I started working with him as a consultant. Two years went by, and one day I received a package at home, containing the script. On the cover it said ‘UMF [Una Mujer Fantástica] – TOP SECRET’. I started reading it, but because it only said UMF I didn’t know exactly what that meant. So I started reading and the first 40-50 pages were all about Orlando, and then suddenly Orlando died, so what are we going to do now with the protagonist dead? When I carried on reading I understood that there was a female character who takes over the film, and she was looking very much like me. I finished reading it and I didn’t understand much, so I called him. He told me, “I want you to be the protagonist of my new film.” I said, “You’re mad!” He said, “No, I’m not mad. I’m completely sure.” Then I accepted.
Read the rest of my interview at Little White Lies