The actress María Hervás. (Photo: Lanaja Factory)
María Hervás (Madrid, 1987) is part of the cast of La Cocinera de Castamar, the most watched Spanish series of the year; She works in El pueblo, which is now in its third season, and played the leading role in Jauría, with which she has managed to generate “a kind of respect at the theatrical level” for her.
Even with all this, she lives oblivious to that repercussion. She is even surprised to be asked about the articles that mention her in the British or Italian media, and she laughs. “I’m wondering if you are interviewing me or have you mistaken yourself as an actress, so that you are aware of my unconsciousness.”
She talks about this in this interview, in addition to the unhappiness that she feels that she is “too fragile” to be an actress, about the “people who fly the flag of feminism with great speed” or the machismo that she faces as an interpreter, among many other things.
Castamar’s Cook is making headlines even in the UK. How has a period series also hooked the youngest?
The quality with which the series was made is undeniable. I think it is the production, among which I have been so far, in which the details have been most taken care of. The costumes team did a great job, I props some incredible sets, the script is super well adapted … There is a lot of care and care, even in the photography, the scene is lit by candlelight. The public has been able to see some of that, plus the set of passions that were carried out at that time. Before people were not psychoanalyzed like us, they were all passions and that hooks a lot.
What do you think that there are people who question the series, set in the 18th century, for dealing with rape?
We are in a very important moment of feminism, but in the artistic sphere you cannot be constrained. Being the eighteenth century, as you say, and even now, they are things that happen and artists tell them because they happen. It is the viewer who has to become aware, we are only reflecting a reality, just like when we show that a noblewoman needed to get a husband at a certain age to maintain her status. The Castamar Cook does not position herself, she reflects. Moral work is individual to each viewer.
In Italy many of the Spanish actresses who do series on Atresmedia are very followed. Megan Montaner, Verónica Sánchez, yourself … Do you think you are valued more outside?
Seriously? I am wondering if you are interviewing me or have you mistaken yourself as an actress, so that you are aware of my unconsciousness. I am zero aware of this repercussion. Although it is true that since the success of the series on Instagram I have begun to receive messages from different parts of the world, that has happened to me.
Then you will not know that you have been defined as “one of the most promising actresses on the national scene.”
(Laughs) It seems like I’m kidding you, but I don’t know anything about this. My life is super normal, I live in the neighborhood where I was born, on the street where I was born, my parents live across the street and my day to day is very everyday. It hasn’t changed my life at all.
And now that you’re finding out, what do you think?
It makes me very happy. To be honest, I had experienced it on the stage. In that plane, a kind of respect for me has been generated and I have lived it. Carving out that space in the theatrical is more complicated because it is a more demanding audience. The audiovisual is a bit my pending subject. It makes me happy to find out and know that people have seen my effort because I do not watch my series, I am demanding and I have my insecurities and I do not like to see myself in case I disappoint myself.
You said “I suffer with everything, it is a psychological syndrome”. If that happens to you, being an actress and playing drama is being a bit of a kamikaze …
Yes, it is called PAS (Highly Sensitive Person) and it can be diagnosed. I wake up 80% of the days thinking that I don’t want to be an actress.
When I get home I arrive as if from war, as if every drop of vital energy had been extracted from me. That makes me very unhappy because I feel like I’m too fragile for this job
Really? For this?
Yes, literally. Not only because of what you suffer while acting, which is the suffering that I bear the best because it cleanses you a lot, it is almost a catharsis, a therapy through the artistic, it is more for everything that surrounds it. Because I am a bit of a PAS, I perceive everything a lot, and that has its good side to act, but everything is everything, and if I have a 12-hour shooting day in which you have to interact with 150 people, each with their own energies, with your needs, your fears … you receive many emotional impacts throughout the day. When I get home I arrive as if from war, as if every drop of vital energy had been extracted from me. That makes me very unhappy because I feel like I’m too fragile for this job. Then there are the demands, which fall especially on actresses, the amount of judgments we submit to …
You are one of those who has arrived without belonging to a family saga of actors (your father works at the Post Office and your mother is a truck driver). Is it an added value? Debuting in Los Serrano are big words.
Yes it’s true. They had only called me for a laSexta ad: Luis San Narciso saw me [conocido director de casting] and from there to Los Serrano. When I was 18 years old, I was looking for grapes, I was studying Dramatic Art and I had started Architecture, but I was not so aware of the exceptional nature of what was happening to me because it was important to me to be happy, to stay with friends. Then, with time and seeing people who have stayed along the way, who have not come out, there is yes I have found the perspective and I have said “how lucky I have been”.
And being so young, rarely has an actress’s name been mentioned so much for a role in the theater. Making Jauría, inspired by the case of La Manada, had to be intense, much more if you suffer with everything.
It has surely been the most intense experience I have had at the acting level. Although the theater moves at a different pace: you arrive an hour before, do your show and when you finish you have a drink with your companions. The intensity is very concentrated in an hour and a half. I really like theater because emotionally it is very tiring, especially a drama like this, but on a vital level it allows you to do many more things. What it took from me energetically, I made up for traveling on tour, going out to dinner and the number of people who confess that you have changed their point of view. That does seem very powerful to me and that is why I am an actress. Regarding feminism, there are very strong things that have happened with Jauría, you feel that all your emotional exhaustion has been worth it.
I change you?
Totally. We will not be aware of how important it has been to do Jauría until many years have passed. That in a historical moment for feminism I had to do a work on the La Manada case, which has even modified the legislation, was a tremendous responsibility that fell on me like a stone in its day: to represent a character who at that moment is going to the same speed as the world goes. Being at the forefront of sensitivity, and that freaks me out.
Doing Pack in a historical moment for feminism fell to me like a stone
And you said you can’t consider yourself a feminist. Why?
There are people who fly the flag of feminism very quickly and simply by hanging it feel that they no longer have work to do. They say “I am a feminist and I no longer have to look at myself or deconstruct myself because I have already done it.” With centuries and centuries of patriarchal education, machismo is almost embedded in our genetics, so it seems more fair to define myself as a “machista work in progress”, a machista despite myself. My daily effort is to discover what my patriarchal thoughts remain and to deconstruct them. Of course I am a feminist, but it connects us more with the work that remains to be done to say that we are machistas work in progress.
That is, to make self-criticism.
Exactly. It is very comfortable to say “I am a feminist” and not do anything. This is a little job and we are at the beginning.
Have you felt less valued for being a woman?
That keeps happening to me (and to any woman who refines her gaze). If you are as good as a boy companion, he will always be valued more than you, or yours is reduced by other things. In them, good work is seen as a talent and they are given a very powerful recognition, and in a girl it is seen as something more naive, like something fallen from the sky. It is as if they think “he was born with grace”. No, it has cost me the same work as my partner, or even more because they make it more difficult for women.
I remember that in a television interview a journalist cut me off to tell his partner “how well this girl speaks,” and above all I was talking about La Jauría. That is macho behavior like the top of a pine tree. Would you stop Álvaro Morte to say “how well this boy speaks”? No, because you take for granted that someone who is dedicated to communicating will know how to join two coherent sentences, but in a girl it surprises and more if you are young and a little cute, it is as if it were something extraordinary.
There are people who fly the flag of feminism with great speed and simply by hanging it feel that they no longer have work to do
This is an obligatory question, because many of your colleagues are reporting it now: have you ever suffered an episode of sexism or harassment in the workplace?
No, it is also true that I am not a sociable person when it comes to work. If it is true that I have received that comment from bosses of “look how beautiful, look what legs”, when they have a position of power with respect to you. Do you say that to your lead actor? And why are you telling your actress? But fortunately I have not felt harassed. I am aware that other colleagues do and I fully support them.
You’ve done quite a bit of comedy. Are we women less funny? You already know that it is a fairly recent controversy due to the little space for comedians in La Chocita del Loro.
Not at all. I’ve been doing comedy since I studied at Cristina Rota. I had an improv company with Nene [Carlos Librado] and I was the girl from the company. People laughed with me as much as they did with them. I work at El Pueblo and when they told me that my partner was going to be Carlos Areces, one of the best comedians in this country, I felt the fragility of the prejudice that they put into our heads. We are just as funny, but the widespread humor structure is patriarchal. We are used to men’s jokes for men, and it seems that chicks can’t do comedy. Lie. The great American comedians prove it and in Spain there are great comedians as well.
You said it yourself in El Hormiguero, so … yes, you looked a bit “like crazy.” At what point does it occur to you to spy on Emma Stone in the bathroom without your legs shaking in case she catches you?
(Laughs) Oh, that doesn’t matter to me. Just as I am sensitive and everything affects me, then I am too daring since I was a child. It is a virtue that can easily be turned into a defect. I’m not scared at the moment, I let myself be carried away by my intuition. I saw her and said “damn it, that’s Emma Stone!” I didn’t follow her to the bathroom, I saw her and realized it was her and then I said: “I shit on everything, it’s that Emma Stone is here pissing.” I did not mean to disrespect his privacy, but I got that geek thing that people who like to write have and we want to have a mental photograph so that the anecdote is not just “and he peed in the bathroom next door.” Then I bent down to see how her feet were on, she was wearing black court shoes. No one will ever remove that photograph from my head, and now less, because you are going to write it in the interview (laughs).
What do you have on your hands now?
I’m doing a series for Movistar +, El Inmortal, with a lot of action, a lot of street, a lot of exteriors and a lot of night. I’m also with the third season of El pueblo. I have also done a special collaboration on El Cover, Secun de la Rosa’s first film, and with the first theater text that has fallen into my hands this year, which I can’t speak about, but I want to. And wishing there was a second season of La Cocinera de Castamar!
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.