Globo reaches smashing ratings in Brazil with Edge of Desire
BY Yako Molhov
Edge of Desire (A Força do Querer) was the most watched telenovela in Brazil in 2017 with a daily reach of 48 million viewers, while its big finale touched the 68 million mark. It became Globo’s most watched telenovela since 2012’s hit Brazil Avenue. Now, the series is all set to conquer the international markets making its debut at NATPE Miami.
Yako Molhov talked with stars Ísis Valverde and Marco Pigossi who played the memorable roles of Ritinha and Zeca in the story that captivated all of Brazil. Silvio de Abreu, Director of Dramaturgy at Globo, also shared his thoughts about the huge success of the show and revealed some of the upcoming titles from the Brazilian powerhouse.
Ísis Valverde as Ritinha

Isis, Edge of Desire reached more than 65 million viewers during its final episode. Did you expect for the telenovela to become such a hit when signing up for the role?
I haven’t thought about it. I focused on doing my job well, on giving myself entirely to the character, on giving it some nuances, and on how the plot was going to play out.

You play the role of Ritinha, a young woman who believes she is a dolphin (boto) daughter and has a very strong relationship with the waters. How did you prepare for the role and do you share some similar traits with Ritinha that made it easier for you to play the character?
I prepared for three months. First, I took some “mermaid” classes with three different tails, changing them every 12 or 15 days. Then, I took lessons on apnea and decompression diving, and also learned underwater breathing techniques and how to hold the air in the lungs. Finally, I learned how to dance the “Carimbó”, a rhythm from northern Pará, in Brazil; and we also had lessons on the accent from that same region. I only started shooting after all of this preparation.

When it comes to Ritinha’s characteristics, I think we share the joy of living. I am completely in love with life. I know for a fact that life, health, being alive and well, being able to talk and walk is the greatest gift we could ever have.

What have been the most memorable moments for you during filming?
The trip to Amazônia was an intense experience. It was difficult, but unique. We were in the middle of nowhere. We had to travel a lot by boat, since the locations were in the heart of the Amazon forest. But the feeling was... the first time I danced the “Carimbó” was on a river shore, and it was very emotional for me. It was really very touching!

Edge of Desire was created by Gloria Perez who is a big name when it comes to Brazilian telenovelas. What is it like to work with an Emmy-winning author?
I was in India - a Love Story, the Emmy award winning telenovela. I think that Edge of Desire gives Brazil a sort of magical touch. That is exactly like Gloria: she brings us a story; she brings magic, lightness, fantasy, a playful atmsphere. This is amazing and unique. It’s something rare and very hard to do, but she does it perfectly and deserves all the praise, of course.

The telenovela explores such issues as drug trafficking, gambling addictions, diversity and gender identity. What has been the reception by the transgender community?
This telenovela gave voice to those silenced by pressure. Many people had never heard of the transgender. Transsexuality was something people had heard of, but nobody knew exactly what the person had to go through. Having this topic explored in the telenovela helped shed light onto a lot of questions the population had. It was an extremely important public service on the part of the author.

You have also played in another massive hit Globo telenovela, Brazil Avenue. Do you expect Edge of Desire to become an even bigger hit internationally?
I believe that each of them has its own story, the author’s signature; the energy of each actor. Each telenovela is unique in its own way, they can’t be compared.

Marco Pigossi as Zeca

Marco, you play the role of truck driver Zeca. How did you get the role and was it a big challenge to portray him?
This role came to life after an invitation from director Rogério Gomes and writer Gloria Perez. I was very happy to have the chance to create a character completely different from everything that had been done in television up to that point. The chance to create a character with humor also captivated me. When I pitched it to the writer and the director, they both agreed and together we created Zeca. When it comes to challenges, what captivates me the most in this profession is the possibility to learn, research and discover new worlds, unlike what I am used to. Zeca comes from a very beautiful and specific region of our country, and that comes along with an accent, traditions, slang, expressions, even a specific body type and gestures. It is like being immersed in a universe of truck drivers, true warriors who spend days on end away from their families to earn a living on the road. Anyway, all of this knowledge is captivating.

What is Zeca like? How would you describe your character in a few words and do you share any similar features with him?
There are always common characteristics between the actor and the character being played. After all, it is our body, our emotions, our life experiences that are shared with the character, and that is a beautiful thing. I believe Zeca can be defined by the words character and integrity. These are characteristics I truly appreciate.

In my opinion, his humorous personality and his character were important to create a bond with the audience. That would make people watch the telenovela and root for him.

Have you previously worked with Gloria Perez, the author of Edge of Desire? What are the most-important themes in the series from your point of view?
This was my first time working with her and Rogério. I think that Gloria knows how to be very direct with the audience; she is very popular and she knows better than anyone how to call attention, in a smart and sensitive manner, to important topics such as those she decided to depict in this work. I believe that talking about Transsexuality and other key topics is essential nowadays. As we talk we can deconstruct taboo, we can accept, identify ourselves, understand and, therefore, maybe build a better world. The work Rogério has put into this project was also essential for this story to be told as it was. He and his team are amazingly talented.

You had your debut in the film industry this year, as the main character in two movies. What is the difference between TV and movie roles?
They are different means with distinct purposes and forms of doing things. A movie is longer, and preparation also takes longer. In the case of the telenovela, there is material available, but less time to get it done. So, actually, it ends up being quite different. It was very important to work in a movie at this stage of my career, and with all this experience in television. I learned a lot, and I intend to continue dividing my time between television, the big screen and the theater, of course.

Silvio de Abreu, Director of Dramaturgy at Globo

Silvio, to what do you attribute the success of Edge of Desire in Brazil and do you expect it to become a hit in other markets?
I believe a number of factors contributed to making Edge of Desire a success. Besides addressing classic subjects such as passion, love triangles and betrayals, it also approached very current issues such as gender identity and drug trafficking. Gloria Perez managed to tell the story in a very sensitive and skillful way, with a passionate narrative, surprises that were gradually revealed, tracing the characters’ process of human change. All this with the right doses of tension and humor that captivated the audience. Not to mention the strong connections between different scenes and chapters. This got the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for the next chapter.

The cast was also a huge success. Juliana Paes was amazing as the passionate Bibi, who drops out of law school and leaves a stable relationship to live an insane love. As the character ends up involved with drug trafficking, the audience had every reason to have been angry at the character. But instead viewers surrendered to her charms, despite her questionable attitudes. Paolla Oliveira took on the integrity and strength of police-officer Jeiza, who fights against crime while dreaming of becoming an MMA fighter. And Ísis Valverde added a sense of lightheartedness and freedom to the leading triad, playing Ritinha. The performances of Rodrigo Lombardi, Marco Pigossi, Lilia Cabral, and Humberto Martins also stand out, among others. I believe these ingredients combined will make up for a successful acceptance of Edge of Desire around the world.

Tell us a little bit more about the process of selecting projects for development at Globo. Do you develop the ideas for new telenovelas within Globo or do you get approached by authors with projects?
We have a team of writers who send us suggestions in the form of synopses. But we are also open for suggestions from any external authors. I highly believe in the power of new ideas. They are the oxygen that keeps the telenovelas alive and pulsating. We recently introduced 17 new authors who have been greatly contributing to bringing a fresh perspective to our stories. Telenovelas reflect the traits of society. They reflect their current times and the plot builds upon this connection with the audience. All issues can be addressed as long as they are approached with respect and contribute in some way to the story being told.

Edge of Desire

What are the newest titles that you are currently working on and that will debut in 2018?
We have O Outro Lado do Paraíso (The Other Side of Paradise) currently on air, which sets new audience records every day, written by Walcyr Carrasco, winner of the International Emmy Awards with Hidden Truths. We are also working on the telenovela Deus Salve o Rei (God Save the King), which is scheduled to debut in January, in the 7 pm slot. It is a medieval plot with dramatic and comic elements, which has as its starting point two prince brothers who do not want the throne: one is scared of becoming the king and the other renounces the crown for the love of a commoner girl. The telenovela deals with choices and their consequences, and questions the power of fate in people’s lives. Another very interesting project is the superseries Onde Nascem os Fortes (Where the Strong Are Born) scheduled to debut in the first half of 2018. It is a deep story about impossible love affairs, hatred and forgiveness, which takes place in the hinterlands of northeastern Brazil – a territory where, sometimes, survival of the fittest outweighs the law. It starts a flirt between a guy and the mistress of the local powerful man, and unfolds to draw a picture of Brazil and the world, and their contradictions. We will also produce a new telenovela, Segundo Sol (Second Sun), by João Emanoel Carneiro, starring Giovanna Antonelli, and several miniseries of varied interests: Assédio (Harassment), about a famous Brazilian doctor who raped many of his patients; Se Eu Fechar os Olhos Agora (If I Close My Eyes Now) is about a series of crimes in the 1950s in a small inland town; and Bossa Nova is about the birth of the music rhythm that captivated the entire world. ▪

EDGE OF THE DESIRE was penned by Emmy Award-winning author Gloria Perez. It stars Juliana Paes as Fabiana, an ambitious woman who drops out of law school for love and ends up getting tangled up in the criminal underbelly. The actress is companied by Paolla Oliveira as cop Jeiza, and Isis Valverde as Ritinha. The telenovela counts 172 episodes and was aired between April and October last year.
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