Photography by James White
Styling by Rafael Linares for Art Department
São Paulo, Brazil–born Alice Braga always knew she wanted to act. “I grew up on a movie set,” she tells L'OFFICIEL, following in the footsteps of her mother, Ana, and aunt, Sônia, who are both Brazilian actors. “What I most loved in life was the arts, and my passion for acting came from that.”
Her breakout role was as Angélica in Fernando Meirelles’ Oscar-nominated City of God, a visceral film depicting the pulsating, blood-soaked streets of one of Rio de Janeiro’s toughest favelas. “That’s when everything clicked,” she says. Since then, Braga has gone on to star in several notable Hollywood productions, such as I Am Legend, Predators, and Elysium, and has even branched out into the superhero film franchises. After three years on the shelf, X-Men–adjacent film The New Mutants finally saw its release this year, and the DC Comics antihero ensemble movie The Suicide Squad, in which Braga plays South American revolutionary Sol Soria, is slated for release next summer.
Braga’s latest project, however, is grounded in this world. In Luca Guadagnino’s limited series for HBO, We Are Who We Are, Braga plays Maggie Teixeira, a military physician, with Chloë Sevigny as her wife, Sarah, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Fraser, their 14-year-old son. The series is a coming-of-age story centering on an American family living on a U.S. military base in Chioggia, Italy, and—in typical Guadagnino fashion—is a slow-burning character study that delves deeply into the lives and psyches of the teenagers and adults it revolves around.
“[Luca] doesn’t let you follow the script strictly; he gives you room to feel the scene in the moment,” Braga says. “He’s really curious about the subjectivism of each human being, and that is why his films are so brilliant. He’s curious about human behavior, and that sets an actor free.” Here, the actress tells L'OFFICIEL more about her role in We Are Who We Are and her affinity for superhero stories.
L’OFFICIEL: What was it like to work with Luca Guadagnino on We Are Who We Are and play a part in his distinct, stylized world?
ALICE BRAGA: It was wonderful! I’ve been Luca’s friend for many years now. I saw his first film [I Am Love] in 2009, and I’ve followed his work since. I always love what he does with the characters, so being able to join him in something so unique—especially the first time that he’s directing a limited series—was just wonderful. He’s a very unique director in the way that he tells stories. He’s someone who takes you out of your comfort zone and creates new paths and visions for each character. We Are Who We Are, a show that specifically centers around the youth, is so important right now. It’s important to learn from the youth, from their freedom, and from their way of seeing life.
L’O: What drew you to the role of Maggie?
AB: The first time I spoke with Luca, he said that Maggie is full of passion, but it’s shown in the cracks of her life. She is the wife and the caretaker, and she looks after this boy [Glazer], and she loves him. She’s not his biological mom, but she feels like she is. It’s a character who lives her life through the moments that she’s able to. Maggie was such a beautiful character to play. I liked the idea of playing someone who is full of life but is unable to explore that in her heart.
L’O: Maggie is complex–she is the rock of the family but also has this other side that she keeps hidden. Is that something that you relate to as a person in the spotlight?
AB: That’s why I love the title of the show; we all have details and emotions that we hide for ourselves and that only come out in little pieces or in certain times of our life. Some parts we keep hidden, some parts we show, and some parts we don’t have control of, and they all come out.
L’O: How do you think a show like this would have influenced you as a teen?
AB: It would have been beautiful. One of the things I was excited about when I read the script was how these young adults were portrayed. It was so unique. Sometimes we don’t show kids with a curious point of view. We establish them as teenagers—oh, they’re so complicated, or oh, they’re difficult. To have a show that dives into their emotions and their questions about the world is super powerful and important.
L’O: How did you go about telling the story of a military family?
AB: I wanted to understand how the army structure works because it is a society of its own; it is a way of living with its own mentality. I wanted to be able to show the humanity behind it. There are actual human beings with feelings, with hearts, with passions that live this reality, and I was curious about how we could portray that with authenticity.
L’O: You also filmed The Suicide Squad at the same time as We Are Who We Are—what was it like to switch between those two very different roles?
AB: It was challenging because it was completely different energies, not just of the set but of the subjects we were dealing with and the material we were working on. But I was working simultaneously with two directors [Guadagnino on We Are Who We Are and James Gunn on The Suicide Squad] who I deeply admire and who have done amazing work, so that was an exciting moment.
L’O: Between The New Mutants and The Suicide Squad, you have your hands in both Marvel and DC Comics—is there something about the superhero universes that you’re drawn to?
AB: I grew up reading comics. My dad and mom always loved arthouse directors like [Jean-Luc] Godard, and European and Brazilian cinema, but there was a side of my mom, especially, that was very connected to action films and superheroes and comics. I grew up very much in that world, so I am a nerd [laughing]. Joining The New Mutants and being able to participate in The Suicide Squad was so fulfilling because it was a childhood dream come true. I am a fan of this world just like the fans of the comics are.
HAIR Darine Sengseevong for Art Department using ORIBE
MAKEUP Karina Moore for Art Department using CLARINS
STYLIST ASSISTANT Abby Orozco