Maribel Verdú

Maribel Verdú

There are few professions like acting that literally allow you to wear the shoe on the other foot; to set aside prejudices and get over your fear of the unknown, the kind of fear that makes you put up walls and develop aversions. Maybe it’s because she’s seen so much of the world, played so many and such varied characters to which there is more than meets the eye that Maribel Verdú openly admires Meryl Streep, Annette Bening and authentic actresses like them; women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, whose faces bear witness to the passage of time and the toll it has taken on them. And this is because, as she draws close to her 50s, she has joined their ranks.

Sensual, submissive, perverted, glamorous, vulgar, with more than five dozen films to her name, we have seen her in every imaginable role, from maid to royalty. If you ask her, she’ll probably say that the part she’s played most often is that of the unsung heroine who gets right back in the saddle no matter what obstacles life puts her way, all the more determined for it, regardless of the tragic ending that awaits her. Verdú likes tragicomedy, characters that are vulnerable without being martyrs, women who are able to laugh in the face of adversity. And if she had to choose the one that resembles her most, it would have to be Ángela (Gracia Querejeta’s Siete mesas de billar francés, 2007).

Maribel is not a method actress. Perhaps because she started out so young, she had no choice but to learn the ropes as she went along. Born in Madrid in 1970, she made her debut at the tender age of 13 in the famous television series La huella del crimen, directed by Vicente Aranda. After seeing her perform, Aranda gave her a part in Lovers (1991) that consolidated her career and put her on the path to a Goya nomination. It’s a path she’s traveled more than ten times, making her the actress who has received the most nominations in the history of the Spanish Academy, in addition to an Ariel for Best Actress in 2006 for her memorable performance in Pan’s Labyrinth, among other accolades.

Aranda wasn’t the only one to acknowledge her talent and professionalism. Directors of the stature of Ricardo Franco (Lucky Star, 97), Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también, 2001), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006), Pablo Berger (Snow White, 2012), Fernando Trueba (Belle Époque, 1992, Oscar for Best Foreign Picture) and even Francis Ford Coppola (Tetro, 2009) have knocked on the door of this versatile actress, who has not only graced the big screen, but appeared in television and online series and, more recently, theater productions.

She says she has become more selective over the years. Gone are the days when “she had no life of her own” and would shoot five or six films a year. Now, she says, she has to fall in love with the story before she accepts the part. But we’ll be seeing more of her, because there will always be stories to be told in the magical world of cinema.