César Mourão

Illustration by: Joel Almeida

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes

César Mourão actor Portugal

Ocuppation: Actor and Comedian

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese

1 –When you think about your childhood, what is the first memory that comes to your mind?

Immediately my grandparents. I am lucky to have incredible parents, but I spent a lot of time with my grandfather who is a figure to me (with my grandparents in general, but a lot with my grandfather). Luckily, I had a very happy childhood, but the first thing I remember is him, I learned the first things with him, if I now have some manias or vices they are related to those he had, or he likes. And then also a lot with my sister, luckily we have a very good relationship. These are the first memories that come to my mind.

2 –I heard your sister is a better comedian than you…

She could be, now she is not (laughs). She is very funny, but she doesn’t care. But it was also with her that I practiced a lot, with the experimentation of some things I did, and she is very critical of my work. Fortunately, it is a positive criticism, there is not much destructive criticism from her, which is good of course. But if she wanted, she could be one of the greatest actresses in Portugal.

3 – I know you have a great passion for sports, and you have played all kinds of sports, including football. In utopic terms, which football team would you like to coach, and who would be the first football player you would hire for your team?

I have troubles recognizing another team besides mine, which is Sporting. I don’t remember other teams, maybe there are some, but I can’t remember, I only remember when I’m playing against them. So, that answer is very easy, it would of course be Sporting Clube de Portugal. In relation to the first player I would hire… I cannot escape from what I think. Although you can tell me it would be a bad acquisition – maybe it would – I would hire Cristiano Ronaldo. For everything he represents. A bad acquisition in the sense that he is already 35 years old, so it would not be a great investment. But as investments are not just about the money, there are many more things besides money, I cannot escape from Cristiano Ronaldo. Cristiano Ronaldo is above any football player, he is like a machine, and then he also moves our Sporting ego a lot. So, even if it was just to sit him on the bench, I would pick Cristiano Ronaldo, even with 82 years old.

“We have to know things about each other, we have to be friends within the team. And when you create these friendship bonds, bonds of companionship, it’s way easier, in a moment of effort, to help the other guy. Otherwise, I’m not going there, let the other run. I think the main thing is friendship and unity between the parties.”

4 – Cristiano Ronaldo who is very perfectionist, who practiced a lot throughout his life, a very dedicated person, something that is somehow similar to your career, from what I read, you also had to practice your art a lot. What do you vaule most in team sports?

A team is, as its name implies, a team which does not work individually. But it takes the individual to have a brilliant team. So, I think the union between the individuals is really what I value more, because without this union the stones end up breaking apart. I think the team spirit is the most important thing. And in a team, whatever the team, for example, I have a theatre team, a team that creates shows, even in that sense, we need such unity and I need to do things outside the team itself for the team spirit be bigger. I think a football team, a basketball team, whatever it is, doesn’t just need to talk about football or be united in football, they have to also be united in other things, have to be accomplices. Complicity is very important. We have to know things about each other, we have to be friends within the team. And when you create these friendship bonds, bonds of companionship, it’s way easier, in a moment of effort, to help the other guy. Otherwise, I’m not going there, let the other run. I think the main thing is friendship and unity between the parties.

5 – We can say these characteristics also exist in improvisation, right? If you have a kind of symbiosis with the person you are improvising with, this can somehow make it easier?

Of course it facilitates, indeed. Because we fell that, when we are not very well with each other, either because there was some hassle at dinner time or because there was a disagreement, improvisation doesn’t go so well. It is very important in improvisation that all this is well aligned, that we are all aligned and that this unity side and the bonds are well established. That is why I defend that we cannot do an improvisation and only show up ten minutes before the show. If we have a show at 9.30 pm, I think it’s important to show up there together at 6 pm. And you ask me, at 6 pm to do what? So I can make fun of it, he makes fun of me, to make fun together, to go to the dressing room, leave things there, then head to dinner; I need to know that today Carlos cannot eat cheese, because he’s allergic, I need to know that tomorrow I don’t know what, we need to know that. And then we put that on stage and it’s wonderful. When we become like Tax Services’ employees it doesn’t work, you want to arrive at that hour, enter at that time sharp and then leave. The same at the end of the show, I think we have to have time for ourselves, to talk about what happened, to talk about other stuff, to make fun, to have a relaxing moment and then, yes, to leave. I also don’t believe in ending the show and say ‘goodbye, thank you, and see you next time’, I don’t believe it works like that.

6 – Changing the topic to Brazil, and I know you have a great passion for Brazil, what do you think Portugal can learn from Brazil and what can Brazil learn from Portugal? More from a cultural perspective, instead of a social one.

There are many things. Portugal, for instance, can learn one thing from Brazil: in Brazil is very normal, especially in music (actors too, but more in music), to make partnerships, get together. Caetano plays with Chico, Chico plays with Nilton Nascimento. Everyone gets together, make partnerships, duets. In Portugal now, with this new generation, this begins to happen, but still islands, we are all islands. We don’t want to form a single state, we want each one to be in their own corner, and the fewer partnerships I have the better, so it was me reinventing the wheel, and I think this is not a good thing. Brazil has a lot of this, in Brazil the artistic class gets together a lot, they do a lot of things together, even in theatre, actors support each other more, they go to each other’s TV programs. In Portugal this doesn’t happen, we have some problems going to some person’s program, and we don’t accept that because maybe I will have my own program too, and then I am no longer going to that one. And that’s not good. But that’s a syndrome from a small country, we are a very small country, so we keep our little things here so nobody can touch them. They are bigger, there is a lot of public for everyone, and such problem doesn’t exist. In Portugal, as the audience is the same, each one wants to attract more people than the other, and that is not a good thing.

Portugal can teach Brazil a little more rigor. We are more rigorous, not as much as the rest of Europe, we are Europe’s unruly, but comparing to Brazil, we can pass on to them that there must be more rigor. For example, when setting a show, light and sound are important, also not just any micro works. In Brazil this sometimes happens: ‘Ah, the micro is this one right here, we attach it right here, it doesn’t have the attachment thing, but we put some tape here’. I don’t this this is right. Portugal can teach that, we are more perfectionists than Brazilians. But then Brazilians are way more relaxed, which I love, it fascinates me that in the middle of chaos things are still done, and it is not because chaos exists that they don’t have great actors, and wonderful musicians.

“I am still a little obsessed with doing everything right and that is impossible. But I think that if our goal is to achieve perfection, then everything we manage to do is already a win.”

7 – Having in mind that you seem to be a perfectionist, how do you deal with the pressure of trying to do everything perfect, or trying to reach the maximum of the goals? Because perfection, sometimes, may work as an enemy, because it is largely unattainable.

Now I’m better, I have been learning from my colleagues who surround me that it’s not only perfection that counts. I am still a little obsessed with doing everything right and that is impossible. But I think that if our goal is to achieve perfection, then everything we manage to do is already a win. If we put a more or less goal, we risk that things don’t go well, we don’t overcome ourselves, and we will think that the middle ground is ok. So, even today, realizing now that perfection is indeed a long way away, I think that if we strive for that to be our goal, the little bit less that we get is already perfect.

8 – Regarding fame, what are for you the most complicated aspects that come with it on your daily life?

Basically, it’s not having a life of a person with a less mediatic job. Because, obviously, maybe you can pee at a rock festival against a pole and nobody will tell you anything, with us it’s not quite the case, we have to give some examples, and we are happy to do so, but we are more exposed. Maybe if I go to the restaurant X or Y, tomorrow people will know I went there. I think that it’s the only thing, but that’s part of it, that’s the price to pay, and the other good things are much better than this price to pay.

9 – If you could choose, which directors would you like to work with, and what types of cinema projects would you like to do? I know that you also have this passion for cinema, and that you would like to do more cinema…

There are a lot of people, but there are two that, in a utopian way, I would like very much to work with: Woody Aleen is one of them, I would love it, and also Pedro Almodóvar, but for other reasons, because I like his characters’ transformation. At times I would like to interpret a woman in the cinema, do you imagine? But in a very well done manner, within the maximum I could, and to enjoy that side of Almodóvar. But this is very utopian in the sense that I don’t think about it at all, I don’t have any specific goal that I would like to achieve. Things develop and happen and I don’t even think about them, so this is an answer that I said as I thought, but I don’t have such goals. I think that it would be great if that happened, but I don’t worry about that right away. But for me these are good directors, not from now; now there are also very good directors who I really like, such as Iñarritu, for example. But I chose there two because they have always been with me, since I remember watching movies and worrying about cinema more.

I would like it to be something completely different from what I do now. Because the movies that I have had the opportunity to make, which gave me incredible pleasure, are very close to what I could do, and I think that’s what it’s possible to do in this country, with the things I have and with the job I do. But if I could choose, I would choose to do something completely different, outside my comfort zone, and I would prefer a completely different proposal and challenge.

10 – In some interviews, you compare a lot a tennis game with improvisation, exchanging balls, waiting for the opponent, the movement. How has sport, and its rules, as well as all the methodology of sports helped you as an actor and to develop yourself as an actor throughout your career?

I think that only in the discipline. I don’t see much more intersections. When I studied sports’ technical training, and in any sport, it’s very demanding, it’s like learning a musical instrument. Being a top-level football player, or a top-level handball player, or volleyball, whatever the sport, it’s very demanding and it requires a lot of training, and a lot of team spirit as well, even in an individual sport where you also have to have team spirit within your team of coaches, etc. And I brought this to my job, discipline, training, and I still like it that way. And yet, I still think I work little, I should work harder. Even now, today I haven’t stopped but suddenly its 5 pm and suddenly it’s night, and I have to go home, be with the kids and have dinner, etc. and I don’t have time for anything. It feels like after this interview I would need another full day to be able to be with my colleagues, prepare my next show, talk and prepare promotions, do this and that, but time is never enough.



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