The Heroine’s Journey of Karina Matas Piper

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Telling stories that take me to new places in every sense. Acting and directing are an oasis for curious people, as you constantly need to travel, research new topics, and step into other people’s shoes to see life from their idiosyncratic perspectives. But most of all, I love how good storytelling can help people think out of the box, and encourage them to build a better world.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Letting go of what I had and what I want, and embracing each moment, free of guilt.

What is my greatest fear?

Becoming a grey slave to the system and leaving this world a dirtier and uglier place. Letting life drive itself instead of directing it towards love and growth.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I love people but I forget names and faces within minutes. Once reminded of how we met, I remember all sorts of details and stories! But no names. I feel this makes people feel unseen, and I don’t like it… But I can’t help myself!

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

Ava Duvernay for her bold writing and directing about pressing social issues, as well as her engagement in plenty of edgy activist projects.

Kimberly Pierce for one of the best and most touching films I have seen about a transgender, “Boys don’t cry”. And for not giving up after that success didn’t result in work offers, as it should have!

Patty Jenkins for a similar story, after giving Charlize Theron one of her best roles ever in “Monster”. And for having the courage to be a mother in a male-dominated industry that cuts you off when you are a woman and you start your own family. And ultimately, for managing to make her way into the Hollywood studios after motherhood, with her great superhero twist and masterpiece “Wonderwoman”! 

Guillermo del Toro for his humility and his multi-layered yet commercial storytellyng, and for making amazing films like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The shape of water”, which take you to a different plane of reality with limited budgets.

Rita Moreno for her never-ending impressive acting career, for being great in every genre and medium, and for being active at the age of 87! Her chops, elegance and incredible energy in “One day at a time” are mindblowing.
Rachel Brosnahan because she is hilarious as a stand-up comedian in “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, as well as vulnerable and super sweet.

Joaquin Phoenix because every single role he plays is magnetic.

Edward Norton because he always gets me with all of his characters, and even after “American History X”, I never recognise him when I see him in a new movie!

Martin McDonagh, just because.

I could go on forever, but these are the ones I admire the most today. Tomorrow I would probably give you other names!

What is my greatest extravagance?

I am a severe chocoholic. I have had DOZENS of different dark chocolate bars at home, all stacked up in a huge pile. Fortunately, it’s a cheap drug of choice!

On what occasion would I lie?

To sneak into a place… I love the thrill!

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

Dealing with inflated egos. Unfortunately, the entertainment business attracts a lot of narcissists. As much as I understand that all they need is what we all do -love and acceptance- their insecurities can hinder communication, cooperation and the final result of the project.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

Every time I am on set, after “action”. When the story that is happening that moment makes everything else disappear. When a group of people forget their lives and work together to make something great.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would be more involved in politics. I really avoid them. Too much hate… Phew!

What is my greatest achievement in work?

Managing to convince several writers to make changes in scripts that were being produced, so that they were less misogynistic or sexist. And my short film about the death of the honeybees, Apicalypse.

Where would I most like to live?

Between Madrid and Los Angeles, which is where I already live! Life in Europe is amazing, and Hollywood is quite special as well.

What is my most treasured possession?

My body, my temple. I take care of it with nourishing organic food and give it exercise and balance through yoga and walking. Everything material other than that is replaceable.

What is my most marked characteristic?

Double personality disorder as we know it from films doesn’t actually exist. But I have my own version of it, like many culturally mixed people! My dual citizenship has made me quite different in Spanish than in English. We Spaniards are feisty, blunt and loud. My American roots are more layed-back, cautious and sweet. So depending on what language I am using, I change quite a lot. Fun ingredients to mix and match for character development.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

In Madrid, The Debod Temple. It is an Egyptian sanctuary with incredible sunsets and a glorious view to the Royal Palace and the Sabatini Gardens. It is located in the Park of the West, which is great for walking and clearing your mind.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

Home. I don’t go out that much. And when you go out for a glass of whine or a beer in Madrid you get all sorts of delicious tapas – pretty much anywhere! Once in a while I go out for tacos with friends at Tiki Taco. And for Japanese food, to Hanakura. Oh, and I love Kabuki for very special occasions. 

What books influenced my life and how?

My first Social Psychology book when I began my bachelor’s degree in Psychology really opened my eyes to human nature in society. But when I dug into Criminology… Now that textbook blew my mind! I still use a lot of what I learnt from it in my writing and in my acting. 

Who are my favorite writers?

I am a big fantasy and sci-fi fan. I love J.R.R. Tolkien and Orson Welles. More recently, I have been mind-blown by the universe Margaret Atwood’s created in “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Next on the list!

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

That’s a hard one. Probably a playlist of all of the songs that bring me back to beautiful memories, ranging from Rage Against the Machine to Nat King Cole, from Massive Attack to Tame Impala, from The Animals to The Black Keys, From Chilly Gonzales to Nine Inch Nails…

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

June Osborne, played boldly and intelligently by Elisabeth Moss in “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

Greta Thunberg is definitely one of my heroines nowadays. Her mobilisation of today’s youth has given climate-change activism a whole new dimension by making adults, corporations and governments acknowledge their responsibility towards our planet and the future of our species.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

The Crowd, by King Vidor, my favourite silent film.

What role plays art in my life and work?

I am not sure what else plays a big part in it, other than my love for people, animals and our planet. 

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Maarten Swaan, my partner. We help each other rehearse new roles, record many of our castings, write, produce, etc. It is great to have a supportive person next to you who understands the nature of your work! We artists have crazy schedules and change our life plans within hours when an opportunity arises. 

Whom would I like to work with in 2019/2020?

Steven Soderbergh, Deepa Mehta, Darren Aronovsky, Julio Medem, Icíar Bollaín, Gus Van Sant, Nadine Labaki, Cristopher Nolan, Pawel Pawlikowski, The Duffer Brothers, David Slade, the Palladinos, Alejandro Amenábar, J.A. Bayona, Lars Von Trier, Bruce Miller, Wong Kar-Wai, The Wachowskis, Juan José Campanella, David Simon, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck … And any of the people I mentioned previously! 

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019/2020?

Megan Ellison. She has great taste in the films she produces! Álex Pina, as he made Spain’s first Emmy-winning TV show, “La Casa de Papel”. And Carmen Cuba. I love her eye for casting!

What project, in 2019/2020, am I looking forward to work on?

One I can’t talk about, as I signed a Non Disclosure Agreement, and I am shooting these days! Yup, we actors don’t really get to discuss upcoming projects. As a director, a short film I wrote and will direct called “La pesadilla de Ángela” (Angela’s nightmare), which I hope to shoot in Argentina soon.

Where can you see me or my work in 2019/2020?

In a movie called “Trevor” and another one called “Rocketry: The Nambi Effect”, which will come out at the end of the year. And in a national commercial airing in the United States at the moment… Guess what it’s for!

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

As hard as making a living from art is, with the ups and downs, if you truly love it, you cannot let go. When you are passionate about something, you never stop feeding it, no matter what life brings you. When I am not working on a project I am hired for, I prepare for others to come, training and creating. 

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Marcella Ochoa and Holly Glasser.

How can you contact me?

On Instagram @verykarina. I always try to get back to everyone that has anything thoughtful to ask or say!