In addition to playing in The Time of Raspberries, For You Flora, The Perfect Moments, Before the Crash and Fragments, Luis Oliva will host Secrets de villages, in Historia. With great happiness, the actor and host returns to the screen and explains to us that other passions have occupied him over the past few years.
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Luis, the Quebec public got to know you as an actor in TAG in 2000. You chained several roles then, at one point, you completely disappeared from the television radar! Where have you been?
Not far from the camera! (laughs) In 2011, I hosted the documentary series Americanology. It was while meeting fascinating people in the four corners of Latin America that I felt the desire to go to the other side of the camera. In 2013, I took my courage in both hands and enrolled in the documentary filmmaking program at INIS. To put myself in danger, I left my agent at the time to devote myself to my new passion.
Why is that?
Because I know myself! If I had had the opportunity to audition, to land roles here and there, I would not have invested myself 100% in my new profession. For four years, I therefore made documentary series and I tripped my life! One thing leading to another, I was called upon as a director for castings on American productions shot in Montreal. It was by directing actors that I wanted to come back to acting. So I found an agent, then started to get roles again.
Since then, filming in different series has multiplied. How do you explain this success?
Quebecers want to see diversity on screen, and production houses are aware of this. I often get called to audition for a character that has nothing to do with my Latin features. In Fragments, I will play a psychiatrist. In Before the crash, I am an economic journalist. These roles could have been entrusted to pure Quebecers since the plot does not revolve around their origins. In addition, after 23 years in the business, something quite extraordinary happens to me: I am offered roles without an audition. This is what happened with these two series.
How do you receive it?
It’s a gift, a beautiful mark of confidence that touches me enormously. But it comes with stress because the director didn’t see me audition and I hope to live up to his expectations.
The variety of your roles is also amazing!
It’s true! In The perfect moments, I am an actuary and colleague of the character portrayed by Bianca Gervais. In For you Flora, I slip into the shoes of a social worker who educates the police officers who reserve too harsh a treatment for homeless natives. When I read the script, I bawled. This story is hard, but necessary to understand the history of the First Nations.
That said, sometimes you can put your Spanish to work for a character.
It’s true. In Raspberry time, the immigration officer I play speaks Spanish. In the movie South Shorewhich will be released in 2023, I only speak Spanish, because I play a Guatemalan foreign worker who finds a job in a food processing plant.
Which of the roles you’ve played recently is the most like you?
Good question… For a few years now, I’ve been giving acting workshops on camera and it was while explaining my vision of the profession that I realized that, when I was younger, I played characters to become someone other. Over time, I realized that there are little bits of me in everyone, that is, depending on the role, I bring out certain traits of my personality. For example, in South Shore, I took my faults — because yes, like all of us, I can sometimes be angry, in bad faith — and I put this negative energy to the power of 1000 in the unsympathetic Juan! On the other hand, I transferred all my empathy and sensitivity to the psychiatrist Pizzaro in Fragments.
Parallel to the game, you will animate Village Secretswhich we will see in October.
I’m a huge fan of history, legends, government secrets and documentaries about historical figures. When I met the producer of this show, I said to him straight away, “It’s me you’re into!” It wasn’t out of overconfidence, but out of an overflow of passion: I knew I would trip!
And you got the warrant! What is the concept of this documentary series?
I visit one Quebec region per episode: Abitibi, Mauricie or Bas-Saint-Laurent. I look into three village secrets: rumours, legends, unusual things. I chat with locals, historians, storytellers. For example, an atomic bomb apparently exploded in front of Kamouraska in the 1950s. If that’s true, how come we haven’t heard of it? Was it a government secret? The subjects are all fascinating!
In addition, it allowed you to walk through Quebec.
Yes, and it is by visiting our beautiful province that we realize that it is superb, at home! That doesn’t stop me from wanting to travel abroad. My mother has been to Guatemala, and my father is planning to go there this fall. Can you believe that I have never set foot in my native country since we arrived here when I was eight years old? I would like to go back, but why not combine business with pleasure by shooting a documentary? I think about it.
In closing, you released the album Monde in 2010. Do you still make music?
Sure! Whether it’s to share my songs or just for me, I still play music and I always will! One day, I’ll sort through the dozens of songs I’ve written since 2010 to release another album. But right now, it’s the game that drives me. I’m also preparing a documentary that I’m going to direct.
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