Miguel Ángel Muñoz

From Madrid to Heaven

10/15/2019 · By Daniel Mesa
The spanish actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz
Miguel Ángel Muñoz at El Palentino bar, Madrid. © Mario G. Sánchez

Madrid-born actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz is premiering 'El crack zero', the third instalment of the film noir trilogy that also marks his 25th anniversary in front of the cameras. 

Miguel Ángel Muñoz (Madrid, 1983) is one among the actors that every week would appear on our TV sets in the series of the moment, a format that would later serve them as a launching pad to pursue different projects in and outside Spain, among them Ana de Armas, Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Álex García; the list is long. This month, the actor of Amar es para siempre is premiering his first thriller, directed by José Luis Garci, the genre’s undisputed king. El crack cero is the third instalment of the 1981 film chronicling the exploits of detective Germán Areta and his sidekick, El Moro, Muñoz’s character. But in the meantime, his career continues to grow with other no less important projects, including working with Sharon Stone and Andy García, becoming a professional skipper or performing in a new play at Centro Dramático Nacional.

How did you receive the news that you would be one of the leading characters in the legendary saga’s last film?
With much joy, especially because I was supposed to have had a role in Garci’s three previous films, but I had to turn them down because of other commitments. For my roles in Holmes & Watson and Madrid Days (2012), I suggested my friend Víctor Clavijo. However, shortly after that, he called me to star in his first play, Arte Nuevo. That somehow made up for not having been able to work together before, but what I really wanted was to be in a film.

You’ve had roles in thrillers, in TV series including Presunto culpable and Sin identidad. However, this is your first long-feature film. How does it feel?
I love thrillers visually and I would like to explore them more. It’s exciting to see myself in the role of someone I’ve seen many times in cinema, in Clint Eastwood films, with that play of light and shadow and the smoke of cigarettes. This is the first time I shoot in black and white and, although I’ve played several roles in thrillers, this is my first time in an out-and-out thriller film.

I imagine playing a character so familiar to Spanish cinema must be a responsibility.
Indeed, but it being a prequel works in my favour. We all evolve, and so do characters. Had it been El Crack’s third instalment, I would have had to be more loyal to El Moro portrayed by Miguel Rellán, but José Luis was precisely looking for something that wasn’t identical. It could be compared to Star Wars in that, save from Chewaka, all the characters are different in each instalment in response to that evolution.

Garci set the first two instalments in Madrid when it was undergoing a big transformation--from the hope brought about by the Transition to the disenchantment caused by corruption and the scheming of multinational companies. How is Madrid portrayed in this prequel?
It’s a very sleazy Madrid. It’s set in the gloomy years of the early Transition, that’s why it’s a black and white film with all the major film noir underpinnings. However, unlike previous instalments, the social context is not highlighted. The whole plot is centred on the investigation.

Although you first gained visibility thanks to the TV series Un paso adelante, long before that you had played a little kid in Jaime de Armiñán’s El Palomo cojo. What is the most important thing Miguel Ángel Muñoz has learned in 26 years of career?
I learn from life every day, and I think that also affects your career. I’m better now at accepting things as they come. That doesn’t mean that I’m less passionate about my job and my life. I’m as passionate as I was in 1994, when El Palomo Cojo premiered at the San Sebastian Festival. But I’ve learned that you have to be happy with what comes to you. Fighting for your dreams is fine, as long as you don't forget that happiness doesn't depend on fulfilling them. It’s a philosophy of life. I enjoy things more now and try not to be overwhelmed by frustration. As Paco Rabal once told me, life is a long-distance race.

You’ve always been very reserved about your private life in the media. Any bad experiences in the past?
I don't recall when I made the decision not to talk about my private life, but I feel very proud of how I’ve managed to preserve it. I respect those who aren’t that reserved, but, in my case, I prefer to cross that line only with people who are close.

Although there is no confirmed date, it seems that next year we’ll see you in What About Love, a film directed by Klaus Menzel (Fascination) and written by Douglas Day Stewart (An Officer and A Gentleman, The Scarlet Letter, The Blue Lagoon), with a cast that also includes Sharon Stone, Andy Garcia and Iain Glen.
The film was shot years ago. To be honest, I don't know when it will be premiered. There’re some rumors, but no closed dates. It's a shame because it's a very beautiful love story, not to mention that it's also the biggest project I've worked on. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t but accept the fact that I’ve worked alongside Sharon Stone and Andy García in a film that hasn’t been premiered yet! I cherish the experience and what I learned from it. I’m a fan of The Godfather and being now friends with Vincent Mancini is a dream come true. It would be wonderful if it were premiered one day. It reminds me of Manolete [with Adrien Brody and Penelope Cruz], which took years before it reached the cinemas.

Are you interested in Hollywood?
Thanks to new technologies, cinema has become so global it’s no longer necessary to cross the pond to go international. At this moment, La casa de papel, a TV series shot in Madrid, could also be considered Hollywood. Any project that can travel all over the world is. I’ve spent a lot of time in California and I love it, but I don’t forget home is here and Madrid the place where I need to be now.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in California and I love it, but I don’t forget home is here and Madrid the place where I need to be now.”

You recently posted a video on Instagram of you jumping off a plane at your skydiver graduation; and shortly before that, you proudly showed your skipper diploma. You really like challenges, don’t you
Every year I make wish list I try to fulfil. People think these challenges are part of a campaign, but they’re actually things I do out of sheer pleasure. Jumping off a plane was the hardest...

Working with Sharon Stone must make anyone dizzy...
Indeed! The first day, yes, without a doubt. (Laughs)

Where will we see you in the near future?
In December I’ll be performing at the Centro Dramático Nacional for several dates in the play Firmado Lejárraga.