Thanks to Maria Jose Bavio for answering our questions on her role in Genius Picasso. The series starts on National Geographic Channel on or around 24th April. Don't miss it!
Can you please tell us what character you play in the series? How long ago did you audition for the part?
I play Maria Picasso Lopez. Pablo Picasso’s mother. I auditioned for the part back in Oct 2017. I sent a self-tape on a Wednesday, the very next day they wanted to see me and then they sent the audition tape to the studios in LA. By Friday of that week I had booked the job. The turnaround was literally 3 days! The following week I was out in Malaga for fittings & filming! Crazy!
The series has been filming for several months over many cities in Europe. Did you have a favourite city to film in?
Yes, I got to film in almost all the locations (Malaga, Barcelona, Budapest & Malta) except France . I must say I enjoyed everyone one of those cities for different reasons (each with wonderful memories close to my heart) -but the most special one for me -for obvious reasons, was Malaga because we shot the first scenes of the show and Picasso’s birth.
Do you prefer working in TV or in film?
I guess it all depends on the project and production behind it.
This is my first TV job…but from what I’ve heard from other colleagues, depending on the production/scripts etc. -TV is fast paced and budgets are tighter. The way Genius is shot, although very quick paced, was very much like shooting a film. From the brilliant production team to the style of shooting. Two or 3 cameras filming at once. It definitely helps when you have great funding! I thought I enjoyed film-but if this is the future for TV…I’m in!
There are a lot of people working behind the scenes that the audience never see. Anyone in particular you'd like to mention?
This production had the most passionate, dedicated and brilliant group of creatives I’ve ever worked with. Not only talented but the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Such heartfelt connections that will last a lifetime.
It’s hard to mention just the one person as each department with their team leaders and groups were just brilliant! From the Showrunner and writers to the Wardrobe department, the make-up/prosthetics/special effects team to the gaffers and the focus pullers, the First AD to the transport organiser, from the sound dept. to the accent coach. Even the tireless producers and PR team! Everyone was just incredible!
What was your favourite scene to film (if you can say without spoilers) ?
Oooh….favourite? Picasso’s birth was definitely fun… exhausting and nerve wrecking at the same time! When I was told that we were shooting where Picasso was actually born, it made it even more special. Goosebumps throughout! I still need to remind myself that, that happened! Pretty incredible really?!
What was the funniest moment on or off set?
There wasn’t much time to muck about on set… as they were on a very tight schedule so any shenanigans were left for when the cameras weren’t rolling! So…Hanging out at base camp and just being silly with other cast members in our trailers was always fun. Of course dinners/roof top hotel bars/meet ups- during down time was great too- time to catch up, let our hair down and enjoy ourselves!
Did you have any scenes with Robert? If you did what did you learn about his acting?
I didn’t have that luxury, unfortunately. But I hope to in the near future! I can imagine that his acting is as free and expressive as he is. I think he must be a very generous and giving actor. Can’t wait!
From the photos we have seen, the cast seemed to get on well. Any favourite moments off set you can share?
The cast on this show was exceptional. So much love all around. Such warm, open loving people. Oooh I have many wonderful/funny moments, with different cast members and different groups too. Lunch on the beach, exploring the cities with different cast members, late night drinks with Rob and other cast members and all of us thinking it was a good idea to swap our coats/jackets for the night. Rob trying to fit into my small jean jacket is rather funny!
Is there anyone (apart from Rob) that we should particularly watch out for in the series?
There are so many talented people on the show (new and well established actors). Rob plays and excellent Casagemas...which you get to see from Episode 1...but Alex Rich, who plays the young Picasso is definitely one to watch out for! Such talent! I also heard that T.R.Knight’s performance as Max Jacob is Oscar worthy…
The premiere must have been incredible. We hear the screening got a standing ovation at the end. That must have been very pleasing?
OMG yes! We were all seated in different balconies in the Cervantes Theatre in Malaga watching the screening of the first episode. And before it finished we (the actors/directors etc.) were escorted downstairs – little did I know it was so that once the screening finished we would all be going on stage.
As each cast member walked out onto thestage, the audience just started going nuts. They all got on their feet and clapped and then when Antonio came out it felt like the theatre was going to collapse. Clapping and stomping. The applause was overwhelming and truly humbling. The clapping then turned into this Malaguen flamenco clap in unison…it was incredible! Have you seen the video? You must see it! Incredible!
What projects are you working on in the future and where can we see more of your existing work?
I have a couple of smaller projects going. I am Producer and Co-founder of a theatre company called The Chronic Love Dispensary -our next show is at the end of May/June more info to come (if you’re keen to come see if you’re in London?).
I’m also working on a short film with a group of actresses-which it’s still in the development stages.
And short film STRUCK, which I was the lead, has just finished doing it’s festival rounds and was chosen as Short of the week.
It’s a controversial film and part of the #MeToo & #timesup debate. A film exploring the female gaze on conflicted modern masculinity.
It Premièred Sydney Film Festival then Edinburgh International Film Festival, Cork Film Festival, The Smalls 2017. Produced by 104 Films.
You can watch it here:
Enjoy the rest of your day
Thanks to Maria Jose for answering our questions. Hope you enjoyed!
All photos are copyright © Maria Jose Bavio and they were taken at El Nacional in Barcelona. Not to be shared without her permission. Header images copyright National Geographic.