“The silence could be cut.” Blanca Portillo and Luis Tosar did not know each other and used him to meet them as a victim and a terrorist in ‘Maixabel’

We speak with the protagonists of the new film by Icíar Bollaín, which hits theaters this Friday, September 24.

The first time Blanca Portillo and Luis Tosar had a conversation, beyond a simple greeting, it has been recorded for eternity. Before throwing phrases at each other, Icíar Bollaín said “action”, and the words that came out of their mouths were written in a script. The first meeting between Portillo and Tosar was also the first time that Maixabel Lasa e Ibon Etxezarreta they were in the same room. As if time and space had folded.

The two actors star Maixabel, Bollaín’s new film that hits theaters on 24th September and that competes for the Golden Shell at San Sebastian Festival. The film tells of the encounters between Maixabel Lasa and one of her husband’s murderers, Ibon Etxezarreta, a member of ETA who broke with the gang after being imprisoned. An event that, in the film by the director of Rosa’s wedding (2020), it is crucial. Everything leads to that. It is the heart of the film.

It was Portillo, who plays Maixabel, who had the idea of ​​taking advantage of the fact that he had never met Tosar before, Ibon in the film, for that long-awaited sequence. “We hadn’t seen each other in five weeks [de rodaje]”, the actress tells SensaCine -You can see the complete video interview on these lines- in the San Sebastian contest.

And when it happened, when their eyes met, it was a moment to remember. “For the first time I saw those eyes that scared me so much”adds the actress about her first meeting with her co-star. The interpreter recognizes that few actors in the world panic. “One: him,” he says pointing to Tosar.

As Portillo continues:

There is something in his gaze, in his way of working, of doing, that every time I see him on a screen, it overwhelms me

That admiration and fear of the actress towards Tosar, and not seeing each other until the moment of the meeting of her characters, caused the expectation to flood everything. “There was a silence that could be cut”remembers Portillo. “It was incredible. I was sitting, waiting, and suddenly Maixabel appeared. It was like a Marian apparition. A kind of cry came to me”Tosar adds.


Accepting a character like Maixabel or Ibon in a film about the victims and the dissent of ETA, with the criticisms so polarized that this provokes, did not seem like an easy “yes”. “Do not doubt”says Portillo about embarking on this project. Then things changed. He panicked. “How difficult this, how committed, how delicate, how scary, how scary”. But Bollaín and Maixabel herself were there to hold her: “To say: ” calm down, we’re going to go little by little. ‘But it is an important responsibility.”

Icíar Bollaín is committed to approaching the victims and the dissidence of ETA in ‘Maixabel’

Tosar even thought that the film was not made: “I tried or wished at some point for the project to crash”. However, for the actor it was a job he could not refuse: “You couldn’t say no, it was wonderful material”.

When it was announced in the press that Maixabel Lasa had decided to carry out encounters with her husband’s murderers through the Via Nanclares -a project for the reintegration of ETA prisoners who are repentant and determined to get away from the ETA environment and the use of violence-, Portillo thought it was an option “very interesting”. “Then you ask yourself, ‘Would I do it?’ It is a question that occurs to all of us “explains the actress.

Having the witness of the protagonist of those encounters first hand made him realize, even more, how valuable it was:

Talking to her, I am surprised by the clarity, the coherence of why she has made that journey, and how she has done it and what it has meant for her and for the other person […] Once you get inside and you start to know you say: ‘This is a very important thing

Tosar, for his part, hopes that the film will help people change their opinion about these encounters. “Hopefully,” he says. “If the viewer is open and unprejudiced enough to see it from the place where we have tried to tell it, which is from the purest testimony of the people that has inspired the events, I think that it could open the way for certain people. But there has to be a will to do it “.