Kate del Castillo Talks The Return of La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South) on mun2
A smash hit when it debuted on Telemundo in 2011, the thrilling edge-of-your-seat telenovela La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South) is set to debut all 63 episodes on mun2 for a whole new generation of fans starting February 19th at 8/7 c pm with Episode 1.01.
The story of La Reina transfixed audiences across the U.S. and the globe last year, telling the story of Teresa Mendoza (Kate del Castillo), a humble young woman from Sinaloa, who sees her life take a drastic turn when she falls in love with the wrong man, the handsome El Güero Avila (Rafael Amaya). El Güero was a Chicano pilot from San Antonio, TX involved in drug trafficking for the powerful drug lord, Epifanio Vargas (Humberto Zurita). Together, they go on the run, and in the process, Teresa is set on one of the most exhilarating adventures in modern day television.
We recently caught up with international superstar Kate del Castillo to chat with her about the return of La Reina del Sur (which is based upon Arturo Pérez-Reverte's global bestseller of the same name) and her alter ego Teresa Mendoza. This is our conversation.
La Reina del Sur is going to get a whole new audience this week. Is it a little less stressful knowing that it's already such a smash hit with fans of the genre?
Kate del Castillo: (Laughs) I think we are going to grab a whole new audience, because mun2 is a younger audience. I think people who want to see it again, will. Its only 63 episodes, and it goes really fast. Maybe they can catch some of the things they missed the first time. Maybe that will be appealing to them. People love the TV series, so I think we can do it...I think we can grab a new audience!
As you said, mun2 is for a younger generation. Do you think this series is going to play well amongst teens and twenty-somethings?
Kate del Castillo: The way I see it, this is a story of love. The drug trafficking and all that? It is a consequence of her destiny. At the end of the day, I think Teresa is the icon of a smart woman, and how she opens the door in a man's world. For her. At the end of the day, she is a victim. For young people? I think its great. It has a lot to say about being a woman, and being a human being. Having tragedies in your life. How you stand up again, and it makes you stronger. I think they are going to love it. It's edgy. It's not the typical leading lady that we are really used to seeing. Teresa is a very different character. And she was a lot of fun.
The show is incredibly fast paced. From what I heard, shooting was also put forth at a breakneck speed...
Kate del Castillo: I just remember the whole thing was seven months. It went so fast, I wish I would have enjoyed it more. The work, the job, the TV series that I have done in my life, that I have suffered through, and loved, and enjoyed with the same intensity...I can only tell you how much work it was, and the responsibility, because it was gone in a blink. I wish I could do it all over again, because it was so much fun, and I learned so much. I walked with Teresa Mendoza, we were together, and we grew together. We were surprised together. There were things in my real life that were so similar. For me, this was a very appealing job. It was also a challenge and a risk to take this job. But I love the book. I read it ten years ago. Your destiny is your destiny.
While you were shooting it, and everything was moving so fast, did you even have time to consider that it might become a huge international hit? Or did that not even cross your mind while you were running through this? Was it only afterwards that you realized what you had accomplished?
Kate del Castillo: Oh, absolutely. For me, I never take a job thinking it's going to grab ratings, or that it's even going to be a success. I don't. I just take the job because I love the character. Or I love the script. Maybe I love the director. But whatever I do, I never think about how it will do. That is not in my hands. I would be stupid if I thought about it that way. I just go and do the best I can. I give 110% while I am working. I know I do, because I have been doing this since I was nine. This is a way of life for me. So whether it be successful or not is not in my hands. I still do my job, the best I can. We finished the whole thing. Then it aired. Then it was a success! Then, other counties picked it up. It ended up being huge everywhere. For me, it is a gift that life is giving me back, "Thanks for all your effort! Thanks for being in another country for so many months." You know? You are away from your loved ones for so long. Things like that become motivational. That's what success is at the end of the day. And I am very pleased. Because we worked so very hard. Its funny for me. Because it's over. This has been over for a year and a half, now. To be out promoting it again? That is a pleasure. I love it.
Before talking with the press about the series, did you have to go back and revisit some of the episodes? Or do you still have a fresh memory about all that happened over the span of these 63 shows?
Kate del Castillo: Oh, I know everything. I read the book a thousand times. I read the scripts a thousand times. I don't have to see it. I know! I know! I am very happy that it's going to be on with subtitles, and that it's not dubbed. Instead of having another actress say my words in English. That would be horrible. I am very happy that it is going to be subtitled.
I think most audiences prefer the subtitles. They want the original performance no matter what language it is in.
Kate del Castillo: I am so happy about that . I agree with that. I applaud that.
There are also more and more Spanish speaking Americans everyday, so who even needs the subtitles?
Kate del Castillo: Absolutely. We are live. We are of this community, right! (Laughs) We are alive!
The show stomped on a lot of the network series during its first run on Telemundo. Was that a surprise to you? Or maybe not...
Kate del Castillo: It was a surprise. We never thought it was going to be this big. I knew the material was good. Its been a best seller for years...But, no! Of course not. I didn't know that the show, and myself, were going to turn heads around from the three biggest networks in America. It's crazy.
You bring up the book, and the fact that it has been around for a while. Did you have to update the story at all, so that it was a little more consistent with life here in 2012?
Kate del Castillo: No. The only thing was...And it was one of my questions before signing with Telemundo...Is Arturo Pérez-Reverte going to be with us? Or did he sell the rights, and that's it? They said, "He is going to be there. And all the things we need to stretch out story wise, he is going to approve it." He even created a new character that is not in the book. With him on board, it was a completely different thing. A book makes a two-hour feature film. But not 63 one-hour episodes. We had to make certain things longer, and he was there for that. He was there all the time. One of the things that I was worried about is that the book is always better than the movies, because nothing can go beyond your imagination. It's impossible. With this one, we haven't received any complaints, which is amazing.
Was it ever stressful to have him on set? Here you are embodying this beautiful creature that he first imagined, and then every single reader has since added there own thoughts and feelings to whom this woman is and should be...
Kate del Castillo: I received notes from him before we shot. I didn't meet with him until we arrived in Spain. He wasn't there all the time. That would have made me very nervous. Absolutely. We'd already finished a few episodes before I even met him. He watched those, so I was very worried about it. I knew he was jealous about his material. Why not? That's the way he should be. So I was pretty nervous. He said a beautiful thing to me. He told me, "Teresa Mendoza is my favorite character. And I love her. Now that she has a face, you are the perfect Teresa. I love your work, and it couldn't have been another Mexican. You were the right one." I just started crying my eyes out. Because, you know? I was so tired by then. It had been six months, working every single day, some days 18 hours. I am in every single scene. It was exhausting. For me, that was my exhale, for him to say that. It was like, "Oh, my god. Everything was worth it! Everything!"
Now that you can look back at the completed series, have you taken a moment to think about one particular story arc or scene that you enjoy? One moment that you feel completely defines who Teresa is?
Kate del Castillo: You know what? Every single moment, and stage of this series, is amazing. One of the ones I had the most fun with is when Teresa finds herself in jail. And she meets this gay woman. She falls in love with Teresa. They build a beautiful friendship. Those moments I enjoyed so much. You have no idea. But I love every single part of this. I love the action, which I love doing. That was a lot of fun. Also, all this tragedy that happens around her. It's hard, but I had a lot of fun with all the hot guys I have. The love interests of Teresa. This is a leading lady that no leading lady is supposed to be. She gets with whomever she wants. She smokes pot. She uses bad words. She is a drunk...Well, she is not a drunk. She loves tequila, and she makes so many bad mistakes. I think that is part of the success of the story. This is a beautiful character. We humanize her. That brings the audience much more close to her. When you are human, you are not perfect. I really do love her. She is the essence of a strong woman. I would say we all have a Teresa Mendoza inside of us.
Audiences don't want to see a hero who is winning at every moment. We want to root for the underdog.
Kate del Castillo: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
Was it the storyline about the lesbian prison relationship that pushed you in the direction of K-11? You play Mousey, a trans-gender in that film, right?
Kate del Castillo: Yes. I have been very fortunate in my life. I think I have an angel that is always with me. Good projects always come to me. Some of them I seek out. However it works, I always say, "What's yours is yours. No one can take it from you." That's how it worked for La Reina del Sur. With K-11? That was something I'd never thought of doing. When I read it, I said, "This is a great script. But what do you want me to do? I don't get it." I felt Jules Mann-Stewart, who is Kristen Stewart's mother by the way...She is the writer and the director, and I loved that she cast me as a trans-gender in a man's jail...It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, to play something like that, that is so far removed from who you are. Mousey is a man that wants to be a woman. So it's a little crooked. It's a little twisted in my head. And I loved it. I did all of the research with an amazing number of people. Once again, my job, my profession...It has given me a lot more info, and I feel like I learned a lot about it. I am very happy with that movie.
Are you looking to break more into the American market? How is that aspect of your career working for you?
Kate del Castillo: Well, I haven't worked in Mexico for a longtime. I just came back from Mexico, because I just finished a movie there. I don't care where I have to go for work. I just care that it's a good project. That's what I want. I don't care if I am in Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Spain...Whatever...Now, with all of this, it's so easy to send a demo to England. It doesn't matter where you live. I think I try to do the best I can. This is my life. And I feel that I am very lucky.
The Queen of the South episode 1.1, "Episode #1.1" stars Kate del Castillo, Humberto Zurita, Rafael Amaya, Iván Sánchez, Cristina Urgel, Alberto Jiménez, Miguel de Miguel, Gabriel Porras} and is directed by Walter Doehner}.