Creating her own legend

Special to The Times

Alice Braga was cooped up at the Four Seasons, taking questions from reporters. She has starred in "City of God" and "I Am Legend" and will appear in Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness" later this year. She can now be seen in David Mamet's "Redbelt."

What are they doing to you?

It's crazy! Just talking and talking and talking.


Do you spend a lot of time in L.A. now?

Kind of. Last year, I spent almost six months in Canada -- one American [movie], one Canadian-Brazilian-Japanese movie, though they shot in Toronto. But L.A., you come and go.


What's the difference between Brazilian filmmaking and American?

I tend to say that making movies is the same thing. The passion for what you're doing or the connection for the character, the way you behave with the crew. Making movies is the same thing -- the scale, the size of the movie. Like in Brazil, you tend to have independent smaller projects. There's no industry there. It's a struggle to do a movie, to make it happen.


You were in a huge blockbuster-budget Will Smith movie. There must have been catering everywhere.

It was hilarious. And I couldn't be around it because I was on a diet.


Um, you were?

For the movie! I had to be really skinny for the character. We wanted the character thin because there wasn't food around and all those things. It was interesting -- the movie before "I Am Legend," it was a low-budget movie in Sao Paulo [Brazil].


Are you a big reader?

I'm reading something right now and I'm loving it. "The Bad Girl," I blanked his name, the Peruvian writer [Mario Vargas Llosa], really good. There's so much that I'm thinking now that I cannot remember. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I love Philip Roth.


How are your Hollywood agents treating you?

Wonderful, actually. My agent here is really special. Elyse Scherz from Endeavor. She saw me in Cannes -- in a movie, I wasn't there in person -- but she saw "City of God" and wanted to work with me. She spent six months of a year trying to find me, thinking I didn't speak English or was in a slum. She's been phenomenal. She understands what I feel about it. I adore her. She was the one in fact that opened the door for me in this road, getting to know directors and producers. She was the first one that grabbed me by the hand and brought me to this crazy world. I'm having a blast.


Do you have a philosophy that guides your business as it meets your craft?

I truly wanted to do ["Redbelt"] because it was something that the type of person does who you want to get to work with. Mamet is an icon. I do think I want to work -- and I want to connect to what I'm doing. Definitely to choose what you want to do -- but in the beginning you want to do everything. Everything sounds appealing.


Is there a downside to working more?

Kind of. I love making movies. And I love acting. For me I'm having a blast right now because being on a movie set is what I adore. I'm happy when I'm working. Of course it's not a downside -- but it gets you, after doing one movie after another, you miss home. It's 17 hours by airplane. It's a while to get there. So in a way, one day you're really tired or when you get a cold and you're by yourself? It gets you because you're far from your friends and family.


Are you religious?

Not much. I'm not a Catholic. I don't believe in a church or anything. I do believe in energy and good vibes, and I think you need to wait for that thing to happen and just put your energy into it. But I'm not much about the church or anything.


People always say turn to God when you're lonely.

I tend to call my mom.

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