Interview with Christian Sampedro
- Tell us about your, why did you become an actor?
It’s actually a very interesting story, one I like to tell, because is not the typical “when I was little I did some stuff in the courtyard”. Although I did that too, I used to act at my house’s courtyard and the neighbors gave me some money, but the real cause of change was my uncle, he was working at the filming of the second installment of “The Lute
” (The Lute II: Tomorrow I’ll be Free
, 1988). They needed a child, he mentioned he had a nephew, and he took me to the set so that I could appear as an extra. I was just eight years old, saw myself in the middle of the set and thought to myself, “I really like all of this, this is what I want to do” and from that point on no one could convince me otherwise.
- How did you get inside of the show business?
I grew up in Granada, a small city, where I played some theatre and went to a few drama schools, when I was little I was in plays at my school and the farm school, etc. I talked a lot, so they always gave me the role with the longest text, so that I could talk all I wanted. After I grew up I came to Madrid to study in a more serious school and I started working as a professional actor.
- You’ve worked on TV, film and theatre. Do you have any preference for one of these?
I started at the theatre, but I prefer cinema. Theatre was part of my education and I like it a lot, the problem is that in Spain is very hard to do theatre the way I want to do it. I love working on a play if I have plenty of time to rehearse and investigate my character. If I can prepare myself and dedicate all my time to the play. If you do things quickly by the end you don’t make a good job and the play doesn’t work, and everything ends up as a joke. For example I’d love to be in a musical, but here in Spain we tend to do versions from foreign musicals and they are very superficial, instead of making something that is ours. And with the songwriters we have, it’s a real shame.
So I prefer films because you can prepare it, you have the script and when you shoot you are ready, you can be more specific and it doesn’t require a huge commitment, you can work simultaneously.
- What do these different media offer you as an actor? How does your work change from the stage to the screen?
The theatre is much closer, it is a huge adrenaline boost. When you are on your own on the stage with the public and things flow is pure magic for the actor, you enjoy it a lot, the communion that appears between actor and audience when things work and are well-rehearsed is something that rarely happens in films. Besides acting in theatre requires a bigger performance, because all the audience has to hear and see you. I also like cinema a lot but as an actor what I look for in a film is to be as natural as possible, to create a performance where you show what the character is thinking and feeling. The performance is more inwards and intimate; for me what matters in a film is the scriptwriter and the story that is being told, only later comes how is it told. And there is something really satisfying in seeing the story once is completed, because you have built it little by little, it’s like a patchwork.
What I truly love about cinema and the theatre is the ability to move people, whether is criticism or an emotion, etc. Making people feel is one of the things I enjoy the most.
Regarding TV we could say that now is becoming more like cinema, but until recently it was just a way to earn a living as an actor, where in most cases the quality of the performance and the story was not that good (with some exceptions), but it makes people know you and if later you do theatre, a film or something else, they go see you.
The truth is they are very different things and you can’t really talk about which gives me more satisfaction, they have different languages.
- Which one do you prefer, drama or comedy?
Both of them, for example I love Argentinean films because some of them mix comedy, thriller and drama all at the same time. When you have all that at the same time is great, because that is how life actually works. That is typical in Spanish cinema, you are playin a drama film and you think, does everything happen to this poor guy? Can’t he have a moment of laughter? Because a relative can be dying but at some point someone makes a joke and you laugh, that is why I prefer characters with ups and downs.
I’d like to play in comedies with serious moments, comedy can be grim too and you can make people laugh using different tools, including disgrace; above all I like comedies that make people think what they are laughing about. Tragicomedies with more inclination towards comedy, we need to laugh, people don’t laugh enough and we need to deal with our problems with humor. In that regard I do prefer comedy, but mixed with other genres.
- You have also worked as scriptwriter sometimes, would you like to keep writing in the future?
I helped the scriptwriter with some of the episodes, but I’m not a scriptwriter myself. I have ideas and I can even do part of a script if I’ve been working on it for a month and I have met with someone several times to talk about it. If that’s the case, I can even have something prepared, but the actual writing is a huge effort for me, someone else has to put it on paper.
I see myself writing when I’m sixty, because that is the moment my head will stop working non-stop. I’ll be able to relax a bit and use some of the things I’ve gone through to write a book or a script, that I’m not sure about that, but I do know I’ll write more. Maybe I’ll do it before I expect, but I need my body to calm down first because I’m a very nervous person, I can’t stand still and to write you need to be calm.
- Besides writing and acting, do you see yourself working on something else, like a producer or a director for example?
I’ve started working as a producer and I’m very happy about it, I’ve produced two short films this last year, one of them is called “Fines De Semana”
and it was a finalist in the No Todo Film Festival, the other one will be released this fall and is called “Papá Es Marica”
, and this year I want to produce at least two new short films. It’s hard but I believe that considering how things are right now there is nothing better than self-production, getting together with a group of people you think is good and feel comfortable working with them to develop a project you believe in. I’ve worked mainly as an executive producer and, if it’s necessary, I help with rehearses, actor direction and the casting, I like to be there to see other actors work.
I like directing but I would need to learn all the technical part, scene directing fascinates me, I love to see how the person I’m working with evolves until he or she reaches the performance needed for each scene.
- Between all the projects you have worked on over the years, is there one you are especially fond of?
The series I worked on, “Ascensores”,
it started in 2008 which was the same year the economic crisis began and we couldn’t go on. Everything happened very fast but the group of people working there was wonderful and we worked very well together. Once we started filming the cast and the writers formed a very closed group and it was a shame it ended because the show would have improved in the future. The first few episodes we made we weren’t completely ready, but in the last three weeks we were more prepared and we were even doing some improvisation that fitted really well within the episodes. I believe that if we had got a second season the show would have worked and we would have stayed on air, people would have enjoyed the show. I still keep in touch with the director and most of the other actors because they are all wonderful people.
- You have developed part of your career in Argentina, did you find any difference between the entertainment industry there and the one we have in Spain?
Lots of them. Argentina has a lot of problems but I always say that the entertainment industry is the only thing that works over there. They may have worse infrastructure and security than we do but when it comes to comradeship and unity between actors, to feel like an actual professional, they are ahead us. They have a union that works really well, you act and you get paid through the union, is like a bank you can go to whenever you want. They fight like a group, an entity that protects and takes care of the actors.
Another difference is that people in Argentina spend a lot of money in entertainment, they are used to spend money in cultural products and entertainment, culture is really important there. You feel like a professional of an industry.
- You are going to be a part of the film "San Felices", how did you get involved in this project?
I’m really glad to be part of this film, I wanted to participate because I think it’s a wonderful initiative. When I find people who has initiative I instantly work with them because that is what I’m looking for, people who want to do things, I don’t care who they are. I offer what I got, my fourteen years of experience as an actor and the possibility of lending a hand to direct the cast. Other people can offer whatever else is needed, that is how you get a project done, and when I saw that “San Felices” was just that, a group of people who ended their studies and decided to make something together by getting people involved and selling their product the way they wanted I knew I wanted to be in and I did it, and in the future I’ll be glad to work with them again.
- " San Felices" is a film that managed to get its fund using crowd-funding, what do you think about these new forms of financing? Do you think they can bring a positive change to the show business?
I think they are wonderful. What these initiatives do is give creative people the chance to make their ideas come true using the Internet. They can present their ideas directly to the audience so that they can show their support and their interest. This is something people really like and it shows that if you get things done and sell interesting products people will pay to see them. It’s also a way to get closer to the public, which is something Spain needs to do, work harder to sell the audience our products.
- To end the interview, besides "San Felices", do you have any other future projects?
I have two web-series with the creators of the show “Sealand”
, my role in “
, I’ll be an executive producer and an actor in two short films and I’m also producing with a friend a series of sketches, but we still don’t know if we will put them all together to make a film similar to “Gente en Sitios” by Juan Cavestany or if they will be independent sketches.Thanks for everything Christian
Review: Pilar Colomo