Brazilian born actress Rebecca Da Costa is more than just a pretty face. Her whirlwind ride to the top began at the age of fourteen, when she was discovered during a model search. It wouldn’t be long before she made her debut at Milan Fashion Week at the tender age of sixteen and soon began gracing runways around the globe for fashion titans such as Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Escada and Hugo Boss, just to name a few. Her success would also lead her to become the irresistible face of high-impact campaigns for Chopard, Swarovski, Nokia and L’Oreal. Her success in the modeling field gave her the opportunity to pursue her passion for acting; something she had longed to do professionally since her childhood. It wouldn’t be long after setting her sights on the film industry that Da Costa found herself landing an acting gig on HBO’s “Entourage.” Her star has been on the rise ever since! The latest project for this multi-facted artist is no less impressive, as it pairs her with the iconic screen actors Robert De Niro and John Cusack.
‘The Bag Man’ is a taut crime thriller that follows the story of Jack (John Cusack), a tough guy with chronic bad luck but human touches. Hired by Dragna (Robert De Niro), a legendary crime boss to complete a simple but unusual task, the plot centers around the anticipated arrival of Dragna who has summoned Jack and a host of shady characters to a remote location for unknown reasons. Over the course of a long and violently eventful night awaiting Dragna’s arrival, Jack’s path crosses that of Rivka (Rebecca Da Costa), a stunningly beautiful woman whose life becomes physically and emotionally entangled with Jack’s. When Dragna finally arrives on the scene there are sudden and extreme consequences for all.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Rebecca Da Costa to discuss her blossoming career, her breakout role in director David Gorvic’s impressive debut film, the challenges involved and what the future holds for this star on the rise!
Let’s give everyone a little bit of background on you. How did you get started on your journey into the entertainment industry and made you want to pursue a career in this field?
I always wanted to be an actress since I was a child. Always! I started to work as a model at the age of thirteen. I left my home at fourteen and traveled around the world but I always had in the back of my head that a certain point I would go back to acting. About four years ago, I was living in New York and I decided to start taking acting classes. I ran into a friend in a parking lot, it was one of those things in life; she said “I am living in LA, why don’t you come by and visit me?” I said “Ok! Cool!” I booked a plane ticket and the next week I was in LA. I said “You know what? I like it and I am going to stay!” I kept working as a model and taking acting classes. Six months later, I booked my first role on “Entourage.” That is how everything started but I never really decided to be an actor, I know it what I was born to do!
As an actor, who would you cite as your biggest Influences or inspirations?
Early on I was very influenced by a Latin actress, a Brazilian actress, named Fernada Montenegro. She is unbelievable. She did a movie called “Central Station” and she was the first Brazilian actress to be nominated for The Oscar. She is brilliant and I really look up to her. When it comes to American actresses, Viola Davis has inspired me so much and she is so good! There is so much honesty in everything she does. Every time I see her on screen, her performance brings me to tears.
Did you find making the transition from modeling to acting a difficult one to make or does one lend itself to the other?
Modeling kind of helped me make the transition because I was already kind of in the business. I found it was easy and it helped me. Being a model left me with a flexible schedule and left me time to take those classes to help me become an actress.
That leads us to you latest film project, “The Bag Man.” How did you get involved with this project initially?
I was offered the role and they asked me to come in and audition anyway. I went to audition two times and then a few weeks I got the phone call from the producer saying that I had the part and would be play the lead opposite John Cusack and Robert De Niro. I was like “Oh my God!” and I just started screaming because it seemed too good to be true! [laughs] I thought it was a very challenging role and I thought to myself, “If I can do this, I can do anything!”
Absolutely! What was it about this character that intrigued when you read the script for the first time?
She is just really sharp and has a dry sense of humor. She is very physical and I haven’t done much action prior to this film. She is very much a femme fatale. All of those things really excited me about the part.
What do you feel you brought to this character that might not have been on the original written page?
Like I said, she has many layers. The director, David Grovic, gave me the freedom to create. I said “I know that there are many layers to this character and some of these layers will peel off. How about if we add some visual layers?” He said “What do you mean?” I said “What if she has a wig? How about if she has these very weird outfits?” You know, the “super woman” thing that one of the characters jokes about in the film. Those are things I added to the table. I think my accent, as well, worked to my advantage because you aren’t really sure where she is from or what she is doing in the middle of nowhere in this hotel with these sketchy people! I think that is what I brought to the character.
How did you prepare yourself physically and mentally for this action-oriented role?
I did my own stunts for this project but I wasn’t expecting to be doing my own stunts! Something happened to the stunt double and they asked me if I would feel comfortable doing my own stunts. I said “Yes!”I did a week of preparation with a stunt coordinator to make sure I wouldn’t hurt myself and learn the techniques. That is what I did! Thank God nothing was life-threatening, you know? [laughs] It was a lot of fun!
Is that something you could see yourself doing more of in your future roles?
Oh yeah! I would love to! I had the time of my life and thought it was really cool!
What can you tell us about what director David Grovic brought to the table for this project and what you learned from your time working together?
He is from England and has a very dry sense of humor and he brought that to the movie, which gave another wonderful layer to the movie. He also wrote the script, so that worked a lot in our advantage because when you work with a director who also wrote the script, they know it inside and out. It is so good to work with somebody like that! He gave us so much freedom as actors. We were able to improvise or to change lines if we wanted to. It was a great experience! Even this was his first movie, it looks like his tenth movie because he was so comfortable doing it.
Much of the film was shot in New Orleans. What effect did the city itself have on this picture and the performances?
It was my first time in New Orleans and I have to say I loved it! The city reminded me so much of my hometown in Brazil. The people, the food and the music was just so much fun! We shot for two months and it was a very nice shoot for two months. We started shooting from 6 PM to 6 AM every single day. That alone brought a different energy to the set. We shot a lot by the swamps and every now and then would have a visit from an alligator or a snake and always had visits from big mosquitoes! [laughs] Everything was exciting and all of those elements brought an incredible energy to the project.
This film features a terrific collection of talented actors, you included. What are your recollections of meeting John Cusack and Robert De Niro for the first time?
I was very nervous actually! John and I got to New Orleans two weeks before we started shooting. I was going to meet him, the director and the producer in his room. I remember I was in the elevator shaking! I was like “My God! Is he going to be cool? Is he going to be a snob? I am not sure!” When he opened the door, he had a big smile on his face and he said “Hey! Come on in!” He was so cool! At that moment, I didn’t feel nervous at all anymore because he was so cool, so humble and made me feel so comfortable. The same is true with DeNiro. He is a man of few words but he was a very simple, kind and generous man.
That is terrific to hear. It sounds like a great opportunity to really learn something about your craft from two of the best. What did you take away from them and did you find yourself studying what they were doing while on set?
Yes, I did find myself watching them a lot on set and while they were acting as well. There is a scene in the movie where DeNiro’s character has a huge monologue, like seven pages, and we did the rehearsal the day before the scene. I remember I was watching him and I thought to myself “My God! He is so good! This is the best acting class I have ever had!” Watching him act was an amazing experience. He knew all seven pages by heart and did it without one mistake. What I learned from them is just to be professional. They have been doing it forever, for many years, and they are still open. As an actor, you should always be open because one thing is on the script but when you get to the set things can change. You have to be open to those changes. If you get to the set and the director says “Ok. Let’s forget the script and let’s improvise all the scenes.” you have to be open to that. The director is the maestro of the set. Those are a few things I have learned, for sure!
You have quite a few projects under your belt at this point. How do you feel you have evolved as an actor since first starting out?
I feel like, as with any other job, the more experience you have, the better you are! Every role I accept, I try to make sure it has things that challenge me as an actor. Every time I get a script and I think to myself that I can’t do it, it is exactly what I should be doing! That is the feeling I have every time I accept a role! Once I am done, I say “Ok. I have grown so much. Now I am ready for something bigger!” That is how I felt when we wrapped “The Bag Man.” I thought, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I did that! I am so glad!” Now I am ready for the next challenge!
What is the next challenge for you? Do you already have something in your sights?
Yeah. I would love to do a comedy. I have done a lot of drama and I have done action now with “The Bag Man.” I think a huge challenge would be a comedy. Also, a musical would be an amazing challenge. I would love to be able to combine acting, singing and dancing! It would be a dream and I would love to do that!
Do you have any aspirations to step behind the camera in some capacity in the future?
Yes. I used to direct my own plays back in Brazil. I used to write, produce and direct the plays. I would love to go back to directing, yes. Not right now. It would be a very far away, future plan. Maybe ten years away from now or something but yes, I would love to.
You can serve as such an inspiration to young people. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to those who are looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
I think if you really believe in your heart that it is your passion and you are born to do it — just go for it! Believe me, there are going to be many obstacles. Every day there is a new obstacle with the language, being foreign or being in a country that is not my own. You just have to keep pushing and believe in your dreams and things will start happening! It doesn’t matter what others think. As long as you believe in your dreams, you throw out an energy and all of a sudden things start to happen in your life. That is how I have been working in my life.
Do you feel there are any misconceptions about yourself?
I guess people always judge you by the way you look, you know? I think people can sometimes be intimidated because I am so tall but I don’t really pay too much attention to what people may think about me. I just try to keep it real.
Are you involved in any charity work we could help you spread the word on?
Yes! I am involved with an HIV project called Break The Silence. We just have to educate people because people who have HIV can be so stigmatized. It is so unfair. I think the more we talk about it, the more we will help spread the word. It is a terrific organization. You can learn more at http://btscampaign.org.
In researching your life, I read you were working on a book. What can you tell us about the status of that project?
Oh, yes! I love to write! I was writing this romance about a Brazilian girl who comes to New York to find love. It has nothing to do with me! It is not autobiographical! [laughs] I had to stop because I have been so busy promoting “The Bag Man” but I hope to go to back to it in the next year or so!
Terrific! We will be anxiously awaiting all of you projects! Thanks so much for your time today, Rebecca! Talk to you again soon!
Thank you, Jason! It is a pleasure talking to you! Take care!