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GLORIA

Star-Crossed Lovers
Casting actors to play well-known figures is always challenging, according to producer Matthias Ehrenberg, but finding a pair of performers who could capture the passion, theatricality and outsize charisma of Gloria Trevi and Sergio Andrade seemed almost impossible at the outset.

To play Trevi, the filmmakers were seeking an actress who could not only handle the intense emotionality of the story, but could also match the legend's vocal performances and unique physicality. "There are always two sides to Gloria," Keller says. "Whether it's in her personal life or her career, she has a very dramatic, over-the-top quality as well as a kind, young, naive side. I wanted someone who could capture those nuances and make them both authentic and believable."

Sofia Espinosa, nominated for an Ariel Award-the Mexican equivalent of an Oscar-for her work in The Girl on the Stone, plays Gloria from ages 14 to 36, taking her from volatile wild child to established star and mother.

"When I met Sofia, I knew she was the one to play Gloria," Keller says. "In addition to there being a strong physical resemblance between them, there was something about her energy."

Over the course of the film, Espinosa transforms herself from a rough-around-the-edges street urchin hungry for success to a pop-music goddess who seems in full control of her destiny. "Gloria is a very strong woman," Espinosa says. "From the beginning she knows exactly what she wants. When she meets Sergio and falls head over heels for him, it's her two passions coming together: her love of performing and her love for him. She is blinded by that and everything around her begins to spiral out of control. Even as her world crumbles, her strength picks her back up and keeps her moving forward."

Espinosa cautions anyone who views Gloria as simply a victim or a monster to think again. "I came into this without any preconceived ideas about guilt or innocence," she says. "Like Gloria, I simply gave all my energy to the singing, the dancing, the living. She throws herself into everything."

"Finding Sofia was a blessing," says Ehrenberg. "She is a great actress and her performance is perfection. Marco Perez, who plays Sergio, is also right on the mark. The whole cast understood what we were doing, which made the process very smooth. We made a great movie, thanks to them."

Portraying Andrade was the most intense experience in Marco Perez's career, according to the actor. "Sergio is a powerful, compelling character, but he can't be a good guy or a bad guy," says the actor. "I spoke with him at length about his involvement in the music business and learned how he became one of the youngest, most successful producers in Mexican music history. What really hits home when you meet him is his absolute love for the music. He's a very complex, passionate person with extraordinary dreams and ambitions."

Sabina Berman adds, "Sergio is a brilliant man, cultivated and very charming, as well as a genius in the music business. He was Gloria's teacher, her manager and her lover, as well as the man who almost destroyed her. Ultimately, he was the one who exonerated her and got her released from prison."

Keller says people may envision Andrade as a predator, but making sure that the character is presented in a balanced and unbiased way is key to the story's success. "If we depicted him the way some of the news stories have, it wouldn't be much of a movie. We didn't want to portray him as a monster. Sergio is in real life a charming and charismatic man. He makes you feel like you need to be his friend and that's what we wanted to show."

Espinosa says that her co-star's insights and commitment helped her gain more understanding of Gloria and her complicated relationship with Andrade. "Working with Marco was really inspiring," she says. "He was fearless in his approach to a character who could have been extremely unlikeable. His ability to capture Sergio's intensity and kind of madness helped me have a better understanding of Gloria and what she saw in him."

Perez says he was impressed by his costar's dedication to transforming herself into her character. "Sofia has a fascinating freshness," the actor says. "She did a lot of training for the musical sections and the results are astounding. She is just a splendid actress and pays such attention to detail. It would have been easy to create a sensationalized, one-dimensional portrait of Gloria, but Sofia goes behind the public persona to heart of the woman."

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