The beautiful Mia Maestro has gathered quite the following since winning a legion of fans as Sydney Bristow’s half sister in Alias. Looking ravishing wearing large gold hoops in a green satin dress with cap sleeves, Maestro plays a stowaway passenger who gets more than she bargained for in Poseidon. She talked Alias and water to Paul Fischer.
Question: Well you look very nice…
Maestro: Thank you. I’ve been sewing all night long.
Question: You told me about cave diving once…
Maestro: Did I?
Question: Yes, did that help in this?
Maestro: Yeah. I actually did this photo shoot for Poseidon in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. And it has the 2nd biggest cave system in the world.
Question: Did that help with this?
Maestro: It did a lot. Because I was very used to regulators and breathing compressed air and being under water.
Question: Are you a fan at all or were you a fan of the original movie and were you the slightest concerned about planning a remake?
Maestro: No, not at all. I loved the original movie; I had seen it before during the film and watched it several times because I think there are many interesting connections between the old characters and the new characters even though it’s a complete different group of people. And I was never concerned we were doing a remake. First, we were not trying to play Shelly Winters….But then I thought it was a perfect movie to do a remake of because we have so much more technology and the special effects are so much incredible these days that it is the kind of movie you want to do a remake of. I don’t think you should do a remake of Bergman or Fellini cause how can you top that – you can’t. But of a genre film, I think it’s great.
Question: You were partially responsible for Josh’s injury and he was apparently carrying…
Maestro: Oh in the eye. Yeah, because I’m dead and we’re not supposed to tell anyone. Yeah, but you shouldn’t tell anyone because it takes the fun out of it.
Question: No, but we were talking about your drowning…
Maestro: Yeah, they’re dragging me out of the water unconscious (laughs) and I think Kurt kicked Josh.
Question: So it was his fault?
Maestro: I think so. We suspect that’s what happened. But it was a tough scene. We had to just wait there and then go under the water and then carry me out of the water. In order for it to look real, the water was murky so it was not clear water so it was hard to see where you were going.
Question: What’s going on with you and Alias – are you re-appearing?
Maestro: Yes I did 6 episodes and I’m in the last episode. She comes out of her coma, thank God, and yeah there is a lot of interesting stuff. And we just finished shooting the last episode on Tuesday at 4AM, which was a very, very sad day for all of us because the Alias cast and crew is truly a family. The writers and producers did a wonderful thing because they brought a lot of the old characters back for the last episode so I think it will be very interesting.
Question: Is it a very shocking finale, a surprise?
Maestro: I think so. It’s pretty shocking.
Question: Are you claustrophobic at all?
Maestro: No, not at all. That was good because we were actually shooting in an AC duct. And we were there for a week and a half.
Question: So they stuck little cameras in the duct?
Maestro: No, one side of the quadrant has no lid but still you’re stuck there for a week and a half. And water’s rising from below. I think Josh and I had the worst job doing that scene because we were there for a lot of the days and then we had to keep up that energy and feeling and the tears. It was exhausting. It was really bad.
Question: Was there kind of a code word in case you really needed to get out of there?
Maestro: Yeah we had different codes but they kept changing them which was not helpful. (laughs). Plus, in the scenes where we were yelling all the time, so someone wanted to stop the scene once but then everyone thought you were acting or if you were suddenly drowning, everyone looking at the monitors would think ‘boy she’s really good’. (laugh). But we did have those universal signs of ‘I’m out of air’ (she motions with her hand across her throat) underwater and I think we found out that ‘stop’ or ‘cut’ was the best word.
Question: How surprised are you at your career and re-establishing yourself at this point? What are you doing to compete with some of the other younger women who are obviously trying to make it in this business?
Maestro: I’m very surprised at my career because I think I’ve been able to do exactly what I want to do. I’ve been doing theater in NY at Lincoln Center last year, I’ve done this TV show that I’m very proud of which is one of the best TV shows in the States and I’m able to do blockbuster movies, but then I’m able to do independent movies and just keep working in my first language which is Spanish and keep the doors open to go back and shoot in Argentina. So I’m just excited to keep it very eclectic and with a large variety, which I like and the fact that I’m able to work both in Spanish and in English gives me a much bigger array of characters to play and that’s how you keep acting.
Question: Who were some of your role models growing up?
Maestro: My mother. She’s such a strong woman and a woman who has been changing a lot throughout her life and she’s the type of woman who says it’s never too late to change or it’s never late that you’ve been wronged. She’s been a huge influence to me.
Question: What about other actresses who may have inspired you?
Maestro: I love the silent actress, Aston Nielson (spelling??) from German in the 20s. They’re pretty obscure characters. Americans wouldn’t know who they are?
Question: Any Argentine actress?
Maestro: No, it’s more toward filmmakers like (???) and Visconti. We have a huge European tradition in Argentina. Like if you wanted to see a Visconti movie playing, we’d have all these Visconti movies playing in the Buenos Aries theater next door, or Fellinis so it was a pretty amazing city to grow up in. I was imbedded in this European cinematic culture and my parents are cinephiles so they would always take me to movies no matter what the rating was.
Question: Are you recognized at all when you go to Argentina?
Maestro: Some people. I’ve never done television in Argentina so more a film audience and theater audience would recognize me so it’s kind of nice because it’s very quiet. I think here it’s a bit tougher with the Alias fans but there I’m not that recognizable.
Question: Alias doesn’t show there?
Maestro: It does but it’s not such a big show as here. It shows on cable. It’s a very specific audience, not a mainstream audience.
Question: Can you talk about the casting process for this movie?
Maestro: I had a meeting with Wolfgang and they just called me to tell me I got the role. It was one of the easiest casting processes ever.
Question: Did you get hurt on this film?
Maestro: I didn’t get hurt and I didn’t get sick. I think it’s the Alias recruiting camp because I am very strong.
Question: How do you stay so physically strong for Alias and this film?
Maestro: I’ve been working out a lot more since I’ve been doing Alias and then Poseidon. With Poseidon, I’ve been swimming a lot and scuba diving. Los Angeles helps you to get more in tune with your body and nature. The weather is so fantastic you get to work out a lot more. I hate to go to the gym so I always find new ways to workout. I’ve been doing trapeze cause I first started doing trapeze when I was doing this play at Lincoln Center Festival last year. I fell in love with it. It’s such an amazing workout. I found a great teacher here.
Question: Do you have a trapeze in your backyard?
Maestro: No. But I do it in a class and I wouldn’t do it without my teacher – I’m not that good yet. You can fall and break your skull which wouldn’t be good.
Question: Josh told us he stripped things away with his character…he wanted to have less character and be more reactive. Did you do the same thing?
Maestro: Surprisingly enough, none of my scenes were cut in the movie and I think all of my back story is right there. I had to somehow be the feeling of going to visit my brother and that idea was very strong for my character – I didn’t want to lose that. And I think Wolfgang knew that was very important too. That brings back the character of the singer in the former Poseidon who also loses her brother so I kind of liked that connection between the old Poseidon and new Poseidon. I know Josh tried to strip his character down but I didn’t do that, I kind of held on to it. I’ve never done an action film so I always cling to my story and the drama and the personal…she was alone in that boat and didn’t have anyone to go to. You wouldn’t understand why that woman went on that boat so I felt that was very important.
Question: What kind of woman do you think she was that she would go on this boat, sleep with him across the Atlantic Ocean…
Maestro: She’s a bartender in Madrid and she makes a living just to pay rent and doesn’t have the $500 to get a ticket. She’s sort of a gypsy and one day this guy comes and says he works on this boat and we’re going to NY….come with me…OK, I’ve got a brother there cool…where and when? And I’ve never played a character like that. The character was written a little more conservative and religious and I think the costumer tried to make her a little cooler and funkier, just to get away from the typical Spanish girl with the frills and the praying for God so we added…the line about the cross where she says she’s been a little out of touch with God and I liked that. The type of girl who was raised Catholic and forgot about it and has a cross for the sake of having a cross and in that case, religion comes back cause that’s what she had to grab on it.
Question: What is coming up next?
Maestro: I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have some offers for Argentina and some for here. I haven’t decided if my next movie will be in Spanish or in English so I have to make up my mind and make a decision soon.
Question: A lot of Latina entertainers are lending their voices for legal immigration boycott rallies. What your opinion and stance?
Maestro: I think it’s wonderful. I think the immigrants in this country are the basis for this country and without them, this country wouldn’t work. I think it’s time for these people working for everyone to get paid what they’re supposed to, get their pension and get health care. I’m pretty proud to be a part of that Latin community and to be the only group of people who have spoken up to this government and demonstrated.