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EXCLUSIVE: Alice Braga is breaking boundaries in Hollywood with ‘The Suicide Squad’

The Brazilian actress and producer opens up about herself and how she brought ‘Sol Soria’ to life.

Brazilian actress and producer Alice Braga stars in the new, The Suicide Squad as ‘Sol Soria’ a native of Corto Maltese and the leader of the resistance against Maltese dictator “Silvio Luna.” Directed by James Gunn, it is a must-see film with an all-star cast and Alice brings a layer of power and groundedness to the hilarious, ridiculous, and gory film.

Born in 1983, Alice grew up in the city of Sao Pao, Brazil and as a young girl she knew she would be a storyteller- it’s in her blood. Her mother Ana Maria Braga, her father Ninho F. Moraes and her aunt Sonia Braga, were all in the industry.

Like her family, Alice started her career in Brazil starring in her first commercial when she was 8. She pursued film in her teens and in 2002 she was cast in City of God which was widely acclaimed both in Brazil and in the United States. In 2006 Alice made her debut in Hollywood with the movie, Journey to the End of Night and by 2007 she would solidify her place in American film, with an incredible performance appearing opposite Will Smith in I Am Legend. There is something powerful and real about Alice that has led her to portray strong, kick-ass survivors time and time again. Since 2016 she has starred as “Teresa Mendoza” in Queen of the South, with 5 seasons and 62 episodes under her belt.

It’s undeniable that one of Alice’s powers on earth is her ability to tell stories and in an exclusive interview with HOLA! USA we dove a little deeper into who she is, her experience bringing Sol Soria to life, her time on set, and more.

I think I am someone that is really connected to meeting people. I love getting to know others. I love being involved in causes that resonate with me. I’m a climate activist because it really, really hits home in Brazil.
Alice Braga Digital Cover HOLA! USA©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

I loved the film. It was my first movie back in theaters and it’s officially one of my favorites. I’m telling everyone to go see it. After this whole mess, that was 2020 how does it feel to be out and able to see your movie in theaters?

Oh my God, I can not wait for people to go see this film in the theaters because it‘s a film that you need to watch, like on a big screen. I think James shot for that. He shot on IMAX so the idea is to really have this big size screen to experience, you know, the insanity that his mind created (laughs). I think it’s a special moment to reconnect the audience in going back to the theater. I think it’s great to have streaming and all that, but it’s really wonderful when you can see it on the big screen. I’m glad you got the experience.

I saw it on IMAX too, so I got the whole experience, it was amazing. So we’ve seen you on TV and film. Your I am legend performance is unforgettable, you’re the Queen of the South on television. We know your face and we know who you are, but tell us a little bit about you. How would you describe yourself at this point in your life?

Wow, that’s a good question. I always say I’m a hippie (giggles). No, I’m kidding it’s a joke cause I’m very laid back, I’m very chill, like, my favorite thing is just to see friends and go to the movies. That’s why I say I’m a hippie. It’s like an inside joke. But no, I think I am someone that is really connected to meeting people. I love getting to know others. I love being involved in causes that resonate with me. I’m a climate activist because it really, really hits home in Brazil. It really hits my beliefs of what better world we should have for everybody as a species. I think I’m someone that is really connected to others. I love meeting people and I love telling stories. So for me, it’s really hard to not engage and connect with other human beings.

Alice Braga digital cover photos©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

I love that. So your mom Ana Maria was an actress and your Tia Sonia is one the most successful actresses Brazil has ever seen. What are some of your favorite memories growing up with them?

It‘s so crazy because my mom was an actress when I was born. Like when I was just a little girl, she used to do theater, and then she became an assistant director to commercials, so she became an AD. So I grew up going to movie sets because of my mom, she was always working, and when I was around five or something, I would leave school when I would visit her on set. So I grew up in a way like running around movie sets, and my dad, he is a journalist and he directed TV for many years, like one-on-one interviews, like Larry King, and all those shows. So I also grew up going to television studios because of them and because of him. So it was interesting that that passion for this world, for this environment of lights, camera, cables, and acting, became a lot through the way that I grew up. For me, it was never an option like, ‘oh, maybe I’ll become a lawyer. Maybe it’ll become, you know, like an economist.’ I always knew I wanted to be involved with art. So it wasn’t foreign for me, that idea of becoming, you know, an artist related to making films or music or something like that, it wasn’t far away from my raising. I think it just came naturally that I started doing theater in school and my mom, and Sonia when she visited our home we were always talking about it. It was kind of like a natural passion that grew and grew and grew. And then when I was around 15, 14, it’s when it really switched, when I started doing some commercials just for fun because I loved being on set and I was already doing theater in school. I think that was the moment that I was like, ‘this is what I love doing, and I would love to do this in front of a camera.’ Because I really loved the energy and the vibe of being on a set, that was really exciting. So it’s impossible to not attach it with my mom and my aunt and my dad, because they’re all part of it, you know? It’s in the blood.

For me, it was never an option like, ‘oh, maybe I’ll become a lawyer. Maybe it’ll become, you know, like an economist.’ I always knew I wanted to be involved with art.
Alice Braga digital cover photos©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

That’s what I was going to ask because I know you had your yogurt commercial at 8 and now you’re producing, you’re acting. So it sounds like you really did always know that you wanted to tell stories. You never had a plan B.

I never had a plan B. I think my plan B if I was like, ‘okay, I‘m not going to be an actress or it doesn’t work out,’ I would definitely go behind the camera. Then I would be producing like I am right now, or doing other stuff instead of being in front of the camera, but never, ever did I think about not being involved with that. It’s my main passion.

I love that. It‘s always been there. So all the women in this movie are so strong and dynamic, which we all know is not the case in all films. What was that like for you reading the script?

It was really exciting, especially because speaking of my character specifically, she’s a leader of a guerrilla and it’s really interesting that we normally saw men playing that throughout so many films, but James decided to do the perspective of this woman. And it’s great because the way that, you know, everything that I’m wearing, even all the details with earrings and everything else, it’s very, very specific of what reality is. James really used a bunch of references of these women that do exist in Latin America and they use those clothes and this type of shirts and this type of jewelry. And for me, it was really exciting to, to bring that perspective because I think it’s great like when you have action films and all that, which is all entertainment, but it’s great when you- you feel the representation, and when you have like “Ratcatcher” that is Daniela Melchior that is, you know, Portuguese, and then you see “Harley Quinn,” which is Margot Robbie and that is a strong, crazy woman character, like very powerful. I think it’s wonderful when you bring that to an ensemble, it just creates more fun.

And it makes sense, like it’s the real world that we live in.

Exactly, this is reality. We are strong, I mean, like the pandemic, you see the countries that did better with the epidemic were female leaders, so why not?

Alice Braga digital cover photos©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

So not giving any spoilers away, but your character Sol Soria, she ends up having a very important role in the film and I am so glad that there‘s a Latina playing her. In what ways would you say you and Sol are similar and different?

I think thankfully different that I didn’t have my life, you know, affected by a dictatorship, but it was beautiful that James created her as being this strong woman that is a survivor. And I think it’s so funny, another interview someone asked me like, ‘what do you think would be her superpower?’ And I said, ‘I think being a survivor. I think she gets her strength because of that.’ I think as women, we always need to empower ourselves to keep being strong and to keep claiming space and for equality and all that. And I think Sol has that and fought throughout that. So I think hopefully I get inspired by her with that and can be a strong woman like her, but definitely she’s a strong girl.

Yeah, she is so fierce. So where did you draw inspiration for this role? I feel like you must’ve created a backstory going into it, how did you bring her to life?

James had a very specific idea and he sent me pictures and we talked a little bit about these women that do exist in many guerillas all over the world. So I really based myself on the pictures that he sent and some research that I did myself of these women, specifically, ones like that I got were the Kurdish, they have a specific female army of women, only women. So I really tried to read a lot about them and tried to grab a couple of interviews. I saw some videos online and it was really interesting because it‘s so powerful when it’s only women fighting together. It’s not the case of Sol because she is fighting with men as well, it’s a group. But in that case, it was interesting to get his reference of personalities, of strength or of commandment. And I think I tried to base myself on that to base it on the reality of these people that really fight against, you know, oppression.

Alice Braga digital cover photos©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

Yeah, making it real. There‘s all this funny stuff but your character is real, she’s not throwing polka dots.

Yeah It’s funny because for me, I was like, ‘James, do you want to be more funny and all that?’ He was like, ‘no, because for them to be really funny and crazy, we need some of the characters to be more real and more grounded.’ So that‘s why he wanted me to be more grounded. It was interesting.

It was good. Because it made you realize that there was this seriousness to it, there was this message and I feel like you were that message. So there‘s so many hilarious people on The Suicide Squad. What was it like on set?

Oh my God. It was hard on set to concentrate and to be serious because they were so funny. I‘ve never thought that John Cena would be so funny, like he’s one of the funniest actors I’ve ever worked with, like to do a couple of scenes it was really impossible to not laugh. Like it was hard to really hold yourself and be like, ‘okay, no, we’re going to do this.’ And then you just burst out laughing, which is a joy because it really brings an amazing, special energy into the project. It really brings a lightness to set and happiness to all of us. It’s really, really exciting. But I definitely think that energy that James brought was really magical because you could see that people were giving their 100 by how happy they were to be involved in this film.

Alice Braga digital cover photos©Hola

I can only imagine, the cast is ridiculous, like in the best way. So despite all the blood and the gore and the big starfish, there is a really beautiful message in the film. So what do you hope viewers take away from it?

I really hope people, more than anything, enjoy the ride. I think after this pandemic, after such a harsh year of being away from family and friends, being away from the movie theaters, being away from things that we enjoy, connectivity with others, which I love so much, I really hope the film brings joy. Throughout the film there are laughs, there is grittiness, there is a lot of blood, but that‘s what is fun about James Gunn, that people enjoy the ride, enjoy the entertainment of it. It’s so good and so rare to watch a superhero film with so many jokes and laughs in it but at the same time with beautiful messages of friendship, of beliefs, of partnerships and you know, forgiveness. I hope people just enjoy the ride, because that’s what I most love doing- being involved in entertainment, and bringing joy to whoever is watching. I think that’s important.

So for all the people who don‘t have superpowers, but want to make the world better, you mentioned how climate change is important to you. It should be important to everyone. So what are some things that we can do in the real world, just like how Sol doesn’t have superpowers but-

She is fighting for her people. Absolutely. I think more than anything, first of all, like to respect others and look at the person that is right next to you. It’s very easy to distribute generosity and kindness starting with your family and starting with your friends and passing that on through the world. I think that‘s an amazing thing. I think a more practical thing related to climate change is if you can- you don’t need to stop eating meat- but if you can understand how much our food industry is destroying our world, and if you can have consciousness of what you buy, how you buy and where your food comes from, you can understand the system that we created for ourselves is not sustainable. I think you can start making changes in your house and your street and your neighborhood and your city. I think if all of us together as a species can create a transformation, I think we can make a change. I really believe in hope in, you know, in the future. And I think if each one of us at least starts to make little changes in our lives, we can change that something. And it’s not about like, ‘stop eating meat,’ but I know how much meat production is destroying the Amazon for example. And if we don’t stop this, we won’t have a future for all of us. So we need to do it together.

Alice Braga digital cover photos©
Photographer: Paulo Pompeia | Hairstylist: Aviva Perea | Makeup: Andre Sarmiento | Stylist: Tara Swennen

That’s beautiful. Thank you. And what can we look forward to in the future? I read about some exciting projects, but tell us more.

I just finished filming a movie called Ivy and it‘s directed by Dennis Ghoulish, she’s a wonderful Canadian director, and that’s a Netflix movie that I just finished in Canada. I just came back and it was wonderful. She’s a phenomenal director. It was really, really nice. Then I’m going to be filming with Robert Rodriguez. I’m going to start a project with him and Ben Affleck, like soon, we’re going to start filming in a couple of months. The film’s name is “Hypnotic,” so that’s soon to come, we haven’t filmed yet. And reading scripts and just wanting to find the next step. I’m just excited to explore different worlds. Queen of the South, we finished the fifth season, and probably soon, it’s going to be on Netflix. It’s still not, but I think you can find it on the USA network platform.

The Suicide Squad is in theaters everywhere Aug 6, 2021. In the meantime, we invite you to watch the trailer!

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