Ivana Baquero, the young Spanish actress who impressed us all with her starring role in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, recently made her American debut in director Luis Berdejo’s The New Daughter, a creature feature about a man whose daughter begins to exhibit strange behavior after they discover a strange burial mound near their new home. While the film had only a limited theatrical release in December, on May 18th it makes its Blu-ray/DVD debut. Following is our interview with the soft-spoken, intelligent Ivana regarding the film, working in the horror genre, and coming of age in the movie industry. Scary.
BD: First off, what attracted you to ‘The New Daughter’?
Well first of all, I thought it was an interesting project because it was the first American role I was gonna play. I’ve been going to an American school since I was three years old, and I wanted to prove I could play an American girl. So that was the main attraction to the script. And then also, I fell in love with the character of Louisa. I thought it was really interesting and complex…those were the basic reasons why I chose that movie.
BD: Louisa goes through not only a physical transformation but an emotional one in the film. Was it a tough part to play on an emotional level?
Yeah, it was definitely quite a tough character, not only for the physical changes that she undergoes in the movie but the emotional ones too, because she starts out as a normal girl. She has her grudges with her father because she comes out from a basically traumatic divorce. But she starts out as sort of a normal girl, and then she starts changing and that’s when it gets tough. But I had Luis, the director of the movie, he was always there. He would help me. We constantly jotted down ideas for Louisa, and we developed the character. So it was a pretty smooth process.
BD: Tell me more about working with Luis.
He has a very different view from any director I’ve ever worked with. He had every single scene…he knew what he wanted to do. It was incredible because…he had an entire wall with ideas for what he wanted to do with the movie. And also the fact that he was Spanish also helped, because after all I was in America speaking English all the time in the American culture. And it was nice to be able to speak Spanish with him sometimes.
BD: I expected you to have a thicker Spanish accent, but over the phone you pretty much sound American. I imagine it wasn’t very difficult then to master the American accent required for the role.
Well, I had a dialect coach, and she would constantly make sure that the accent was perfect, because of course sometimes I have little Spanish things going on. But yeah, she was always there and other than that, as I just mentioned going to an American school my entire life. So I was raised in English basically.
BD: Your character in the film is at an age where she’s beginning to mature into a woman. Did you see parallels between the fantastical transformation Louisa goes through in the movie and the very real transformation young girls go through in real life when they hit maturity?
Yeah, there’s definitely similarities. And Louisa, of course, after all she is a normal girl. And she’s going through her teenage years. It’s tough for her because she had a pretty hard life and one of the main factors of the character was to be able to show that she created a sort of shield against the world because she’d received in some way a lot of toughness. Her mom rejected her. So I also had to show that. But then again, Louisa is quite different from any other teenager cause she’s lived different experiences. And what happens to her during the movie is very different. It’s fantastical, it doesn’t happen in real life.
BD: Louisa begins to transform into one of the creatures at one point in the film. What was the makeup process like for that?
Yeah. It was constantly putting makeup on and off, because we needed to show that Louisa was also physically changing. Her face was changing, her features were changing, she had bags under her eyes. Her head was starting to develop blue-ish veins…but it was a nice process because I loved having makeup applied on me, basically. It was really relaxing. And the daily routine was basically scenes with makeup, [then] scenes with no makeup.
BD: What was it like working with Kevin Costner?
It was great. When I was told that he was gonna participate in the movie, I was extremely excited because I had seen some of his movies. And I would say he’s extremely generous as an actor. And he was always there to give Gattlin – the other actor in the movie – and me advice. He always gave us tips. And it’s really nice having an actor of that magnitude in the movie and be able to share scenes with him.
BD: Do you enjoy working in the horror genre?
Well, it started out because…the first movie I did, ‘Romasanta’ with Paco Plaza, was a scary sort of movie. And then I just started getting really into this world of fantasy movies and horror movies. And I do love filming them, I mean I have a blast. But then I’m in a stage where I’m learning so I would also love to try other kinds of genres, like comedy or…in fact, this summer my new project is a family movie. And it’s very different from anything I’ve done.
BD: Your first lead role was in Pan’s Labyrinth with Guillermo del Toro directing you, so that must have been a really good entry into genre films.
Yeah, definitely. Thanks to that movie, in Spain I…became known, and I got many more scripts than I ever had in my life. And ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, of course it was a great move for my career, but it was also like an acting school because I learned so much from that experience and from Guillermo. He was basically my mentor. It was such a nice movie to film, and to watch of course, the final result was incredible.
BD: What was the experience like filming a movie in America, and are you looking forward to making more movies here?
Yeah, it was really nice. I’ve been raised basically in American culture. So I wanted to see what it was like, so I was able to live my American experience…and it’s really different filming in the States than filming in Spain. Especially because of the under-age regulations. In the States everything is extremely controlled. I had to work like nine hours and then study three hours. It was really strict. But at the same time it was helpful for the school tasks and everything, I was perfectly updated. And it was really nice living there, actually. The process was smooth and yes, I missed home, but I really liked it over there. Everyone was so nice.
BD: Have you found the transition from child actor to adult actor a tough one?
Yeah, definitely, especially the characters I get, they have a more important role, they’re more complex, I can work on them. And of course as I grow up as an actress I take things more seriously. I started out when I was eight, and it was pretty much a hobby for me because I never wanted to be an actress. But when I got onto it, I realized it was what I wanted to do. So yes, it’s definitely been very different, and I get different kinds of movies.