Daniel Hendler is surprised to the point of the epithet when he is reminded that 22 years have passed since his first collaboration with Leo Masliah. It was in a staging of BulimiaMasliah’s play, by the theatrical youth group in which the actor participated.
Actor is a bit limited to define Hendler, who is capable of directing cinema and theater, concocting scripts, projects and plays like this Influencers that he wrote with Masliah and will be seen this weekend at the Sala Zitarrosa (see box).
It’s been a long time since that Bulimia and Hendler has become one of the most prestigious actors in the Río de la Plata with a career that spans film, theater and television. And he doesn’t stop working.
About his moment, his generation and influencers, Hendler spoke from Buenos Aires with El País.
—We will get to Influencers but I want to start with a personal curiosity. You haven’t directed a movie in a long time, will we have to wait much longer?
—I am writing a script that I would like to film next year. I go slowly.
—How is your relationship with film directing?
“It’s probably what I like best.” But I have a bad habit of prioritizing good acting projects and postponing authorship. When a project to direct there begins to take shape, it does take me two years to dedicate myself to that. But one does not dare to let go of the trade so easily.
—But that also means that he is in demand as an actor…
—It was just two years with good proposals and nice opportunities that I didn’t want to miss.
—And what does something have to have to seduce you and make you delay your authorial projects?
—What always weighs more is the look of the director. There are a series of attractions that are the ones that end up summoning me. The cast, the script, the framework of the story that is told always respond to the direction’s gaze. So, when I’m interested in working on something, the director’s way of seeing is what gives me the most confidence to get involved. When I read a script and I like it a lot, I almost forget the character that they are offering me: it only makes me want to collaborate in whatever the person in charge feels like.
—In 2000, your Montevideo theater group, Acapara el 522, staged Bulimia, the play by Leo Masliah…
“Has it been 22 years already?”
-What if. How do you remember that encounter with Masliah?
—Bulimia It was a dream come true that finds in Influencers, its peak, for now, in my collaboration with Leo. I met him when I was 15 years old when one of his songs, “El jodedor”, was first in the 100.3 Ranking, the El Dorado program in which the audience voted for his favorite songs. I swelled for that song to death. I couldn’t believe a song like this existed. In the library of my mother’s husband, I find a book by Leo, The Jose Fin Show and I devoured it very surprised that there could be such literature. I began to do a literary workshop with him, I wrote some stories and he suggested that I publish a book of stories. The publisher rejected the project but that idea took me to the kitchen of Leo’s house to correct my scores and things like that. He was one of my idols and I was in his kitchen.
—Going back to that boy from 22 years ago. What did you think was going to be his path?
—I was very happy because I was studying architecture and acting was a plan B that I wanted to protect. He was not willing to expose me to being an actor. And no matter what had to happen, he was going to enjoy it. And that was finding his channels and I had privileged opportunities. So I enjoyed it as it was without seeing a future for myself as an actor. I already felt privileged: I had my theater group and I was starting to make a movie. I didn’t play it first, I was a bit of a coward.
—Your career, beyond those early misgivings, has grown freely: you can make your own web series, participate in Integra, a nice show on Canal Encuentro, or work on a strip and become a celebrity.
—What keeps me alive is not to speculate too much but to do things that help me grow. The times that I chose a project speculating because it was good for me for work or it seemed to me that it could take me to a window that served me, I ended up doing it wrong. And not only did I not grow but I probably cut a virtuous cycle of grabbing things that were challenges. The cunning lies in not speculating too much if not always looking for things that generate real interest.
—Seeing things from there, do you have something Uruguayan and generational?
-I think so. Generational without a doubt because in my generation the idea of being an actor was already a challenge, it was belonging to a tribe. At first the idea was a bit dizzying and today it seems to me that the gurises are a bit of actors, influencers in that double habitat, analog and digital. Now we are all a little actors of ourselves.
– How is your link with that world?
-With the networks I have a distant relationship like in those family ties that one maintains because there is no other. And I’m not a very tech-savvy guy: I quickly forget the digital things I learn. Likewise, the digital has several dimensions: there is the purely technological and then the digital intelligences, those allies that can be toxic. There if I start to look at it from a generational perspective. I dedicate myself to this because I saw things that an algorithm would never have suggested me to see. Not even that work by Eugenio Barba or that street mime or Buñuel’s films at the Cinemateca. It would not have come to this helped by artificial intelligences.
—How did Influencers come about?
—I used to run into Leo a lot in Buquebus: whenever I got on the ship I saw him, as if he lived there. And we talked and in those intersections this idea of writing something together came about. We started by mail, the pandemic arrived that got into the theme of the work and we ended up getting together to rehearse when we already had a scheduled premiere date.
“What do you find when you see her?”
—They are two characters that have our names that are trying to create a work using their artistic skills: Leo from the piano and me from the pantomime. They are governed and besieged by the algorithms that are their main allies and at the same time they begin to transform into entities that are difficult to classify, almost human. It is that: two guys trying to make their way in this very digital world.