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Exclusive Interview: 30 Coins’ Macarena Gómez

30 Coins season 2 has come to an end, and what an end it was! Fans are still reeling from the fantastical finale presented by brilliant writer and director Álex de la Iglesia and the cast and crew of the HBO Europe show. We at Hollywood.com have had the good fortune of speaking to the sultry Macarena Gómez (best known, perhaps, for her role in the long-running Spanish black comedy La que se avencina) about her character, Merche, the wild narrative that season two followed, and the addition of the wonderful Paul Giamatti to the cast:

I’ll start by saying I love 30 Coins. It’s a great show. And I love your character. Merche is so complex. What about the character do you find most interesting?

The change she made from the first season to the second season. She’s this woman who seems like she controls her feelings. She controls her husband. She’s very well-educated, very worried about what people think about her. And she seems a bit simple in a way. You know, living in this tiny village and suddenly you don’t expect her to be so… not aggressive, but you don’t expect her to fight for power, you know, to try to get so much power or to be so manipulative.

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The change from season one to season two is extreme. At the end of season one, Merche has acquired one of the 30 Coins. She escapes Pedraza with LaGrange, played by Francisco Reyes. In season two, he plans to take the coin from her, but that doesn’t work out too well for him, does it?

No, it doesn’t. It’s like many people have told me — that my character is really evil and a very bad person, but I don’t think that way because I want to get the 30 Coins and I want to have as much power as possible for a very simple reason. I want to get my family back.

Your husband Paco.

That’s my main goal, so I do it. I do what I do because I’m madly in love and because also I want to have …Francisco Reyes — he discovers my weakness. He knows my weakness is the fact that I want to be a mother, so he plays with that. And so, I want to get the 30 Coins just for a very simple reason: to be back with my son, with my new son, you know? And to get my husband back and to create a family — that’s what I wanted. What Merche’s always wanted. To be a normal woman who works, who has a business in a little village in Spain with a family. But how do I get that? I lost what I wanted. What I always aimed for. How do I get that back? Very simply, by getting power. The power the coins give me, you know?

So, your driving force is to have a family, to be with Paco. And then this child that they provide for you…

I think that’s my driving force, as you said. We will have to see what happens in the third season. Maybe my driving force will be different. I mean, Paco is in love with another woman. Why do I do what I do just to get Paco back? I really think I’m in love with him. Why don’t I just get rid of him? You know, forget about him.

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Because it causes you a lot of problems. Even if you are in love with him.

I’m in love with him. Seriously.

Gomez as Merche in 30 Coins. HBO

You wouldn’t classify Merche as evil or as a sort of sociopath or anything like that?

Seriously, people say, “Are you serious Macarena? She’s an evil and troubled person.” I say no, no. I don’t necessarily see what she does in order to get what she wants as evil, because as an actor, you can never judge your character.

I don’t see her as evil. I see her as you said, as a woman in love who wants a family.

I don’t know if you are a father or not, but you would do anything for your kid, you know?And I would do anything for my husband. Me as Macarena — I always say to myself, “Why would Merche be in love with this person?” I mean, Macarena would never be in love with a person who doesn’t love her back, you know? But Merche — I have to accept the fact that Merche is in love with a person that I don’t think deserves to be with her. I think Merche is much more intelligent than Paco, so I do not understand. Macarena cannot understand why Merche’s in love with a person like Paco. But she is. So, I have to play her.

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Changing course, season one of the show took place pretty much mostly in Spain, but the scope of the narrative in season 2… It’s expanded globally with locations in America, France, Peru, Rome, and even Hell. I was wondering what your favorite place to shoot was or if it was at all difficult to do so much globetrotting.

I’ll tell you the truth. (laughing) Peru… Peru and Mexico were shot in the Canary Islands.

Still, that must have been nice.

Yeah. You know, the Canary Islands — they give you so many facilities to shoot there and it’s perfect for production. It’s very easy and it’s quite cheap. So many productions –- actually, many American productions — take place in the Canary Islands.

No, I didn’t know that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. A lot. So sadly, I didn’t go to Peru. I didn’t go to Mexico.

Did you get to go to France?

I did go to France. I ran out to shoot at the Place Vendôme for one day, and I also went to London, but no, I didn’t travel that much.

But you enjoyed it?

Paris and London, of course. And I have friends in both places, so yeah, I loved it so much. Shooting abroad, meeting new people, meeting a new culture, working with people from that culture, speaking another language. It’s always fun to meet new people, you know?

Absolutely, yeah. Speaking of which, the cast also expanded to include Paul Giamatti as Christian Barbrow. I’m sure you know how popular he is here in the States. I was wondering what it was like to work with him.

I loved him. I had a very, very good relationship with him. Actually, when I knew I would be shooting with him, like a week before starting to shoot, I said to Álex de la Iglesia, “Hey, Álex. You know I would love to meet Paul and have dinner with him or something, so we can get to know each other.” And Álex said, “Okay.” So, the first day I met him, I sat next to him and in like two minutes we made quick friends. It was very easy working with him.

Oh, that’s good to hear.

I don’t feel that you have to deal with him or talk to him in a different way just because he’s a Hollywood actor. At least, I don’t talk to people like they’re different. I don’t. And I think he felt comfortable because he noticed that for me, he was one more…

Part of the cast.

Yeah, another member of the cast. And I loved him. He has a very great sense of humor. We both laughed a lot and yeah, I’m friends with Paul, so we write to each other.

Even his character, Barbrow — your character, Merche, puts him in his place too, such as in the plane scene where you flip it over. What would you say was your favorite scene involving you using your powers?

I think… Well, I liked the plane scene, but that was the first day. You know, our first day of shooting together. So, it wasn’t that easy. I was a bit … I was nervous, I must tell you. And I think he was too.

But you didn’t seem like it. You did great!

But I was. I was. (laughing) I was nervous.

And I liked the scene with the giant Grim Reaper. The Holy Death statue. That was pretty crazy.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, that one we had to shoot very, very fast. Like, we didn’t have much time to do that scene. No, that was crazy. (laughing) That was crazy, shooting with Paul.

What other scenes did you especially enjoy?

You know, I loved doing the Mexican part — at the table with all the Mexican men, treating me like a stupid female, you know? And me telling them I’m more … much more powerful than them. And then Merche throwing the table.

You certainly showed them!

Yeah, yeah. (laughing) You know, I like that one a lot. And I liked working with Francisco Reyes a lot. You know, like the second episode when I’m with him in the great villa. And in the car with him. Yeah, all the scenes with Francisco Reyes – I enjoyed them a lot. Well, I actually enjoyed it every time I had to kill someone. (laughing)

(Laughing) Yeah, it was a lot of fun to watch. So, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the season finale.

You can ask, but I don’t know what is going to happen in season three. I end up in Pedraza being another character, right, but if you ask me, who are you? Why are you in Pedraza? The answer is, I don’t know.


I think the explanation was that it’s like an alternate dimension or something like that. It looks like Vergara is now the mayor and he’s married to Elena and everybody seems to be in different roles.

Right, but I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I play, you know? I don’t have an answer for that. Yeah, you are right, we travel to another dimension. You’re right about that. But what role do I play in that dimension? Do I know I am in a different dimension? Am I playing a character knowing what happened?

Álex de la Iglesia still has to write season three, so…

You know, I’m not that kind of actress, and working with Álex … I know Álex doesn’t like actors who ask many questions like why? Why do I do this? Why? So, if I go there shooting and I say to Álex, “Álex, why am I here? Why am I playing this character? I don’t even know who I am,” he says, “I’ll tell you next season.” So, in a way, I think he wanted us not to really know what was happening.

It was a really spectacular ending. So much craziness going on: the Eye of God, the UFO… What did you think when you first read the ending in the script?

Regarding the ending, to tell you the truth, I didn’t completely understand the ending, but I didn’t want to know either. Sometimes it’s better not to know because sometimes you play the role in a different way when you already know the answer. So, it’s like, I know I get in the UFO, and I go somewhere, I travel somewhere, but I didn’t want to know why I ended up in Pedraza.

But it does seem like the bad guys kind of win in the end.

Oh, yeah, yeah. The bad guys win. But it’s like Merche wins as well. It’s Merche in a different dimension. But she knows that she’s in a different dimension. Is she playing a different character? I don’t know.

Speaking of the third season, it has yet to be greenlit by Max. Do you think the show will have a third season? And if so, what would you like to see happen with your character?

Well, actually, we have to talk to HBO, but they always said that if the second season is a success, they would do the third season.

It certainly seems like it was.

Yeah, it seems. I enjoyed playing the powerful woman. I enjoyed playing a luxury being, with all the shooting with Paul Giamatti, acting as if we were on a boat in Mexico, Peru. I like traveling around. I like the power. I loved playing a powerful, sexy, and attractive woman, I love playing that, but I don’t think my character would follow that arc. I don’t know what Álex has in mind. I said to you that Merche’s main goal is to get back to Pedraza with her husband and her kid.

That would be the perfect ending for Merche.

The perfect ending, right? Or the correct thing, but I don’t think Álex is going to take that path. And that, for me as an actress, it would be boring to do that, you know, get back to Pedraza. I think something even more weird or something really … It’s not the political … How do you say, like the politically…

Politically correct?

The politically correct thing would be to go back to Pedraza with my family, but I hope not, because I think that’s a bit boring.

Oh yeah, I’m sure you know season two is a lot bigger and crazier than season one. I’m sure season three will be even more out there.

I think in season three we’ll be traveling in like a time machine. (laughing)

(Laughing) Right. Yeah, and there’s a lot going on. And it almost seems as if Paul Giamatti’s character might actually be a little jealous of Paco because he seems to like you himself. He doesn’t seem too thrilled that you’re still in love with Paco.

Barbrow, yes, he wants to be with me. He’s in love with me. He will probably do something. I think he will probably do something to get to be with me. He may try to kill Paco in order to have me for himself.

Yeah, that sounds completely possible. He’s definitely capable of that.

To tell you the truth, me as an actress — I would love to shoot with Paul Giamatti all the time. I would even love to fall in love with him, you know? I would love Merche to be with him. But I don’t know what is in Álex’s mind because, as I said, his mind is so, so creative that I never know what kind of direction his mind is going to take.

Your character has certainly grown and become more powerful, more sure of herself from season one to season two. And it’s been great watching you show all these powerful figures that you’re a force to be reckoned with.

(Laughing) My mom always said playing Merche is like your dream. Like when you were a little girl, you always wanted to play a villain. You know, I’m killing people, jumping through the air … Playing a villain and an action character, I always wanted to do that. So, I am lucky to be playing Merche.

It’s terrific watching you and watching the show. And I’m really looking forward to season three. I hope it happens.

Yeah, I hope so. I hope so too. 

30 Coins season two is now fully available to stream on Max.




Jason Robbins is a features editor and writer, attorney, computer scientist, bio-exorcist and inventor of the piano key necktie.




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