The Spanish actress talks about how the Netflix series changed her career, her landing in Hollywood and her relationship with Chino Darín.

Úrsula Corberó is still Tokyo for all of us who saw her in the Spanish series La Casa de Papel. Her character, a thief with a capacity for action and strategy, not only made her globally famous, but catapulted her into Hollywood. But this will be the final year of the saga, the farewell to the character and a new beginning for this 32-year-old actress, born in San Pedro de Villamajor (a town an hour from Barcelona) and girlfriend of Chino Darín, with whom she shares a house in Madrid.
“When they ask me what it was like to say goodbye to Tokyo, I actually know that I have not done it because it has not only taught me a lot on a professional level but also on a personal level,” she tells Viva. Let’s remember: for half a decade and five seasons, Úrsula was the one who gave life to this assailant as complex and unpredictable as the city that gives her its name.
La Casa de Papel, a Netflix series that positioned Spain as a global success powerhouse for new TV, is now coming to an end with its fifth season. The great outcome will be seen in two parts: one to premiere on September 3 and the other, on December 3. Úrsula is aware that a stage in her life is closing.

Adventures with spectacular twists and turns, millionaire robberies in the style of La Gran Estafa and an iconic visual sense (red rompers and Dalí masks, who would have thought?) Were the ingredients of the boom, with Úrsula at the head, who today has more 21 million followers on Instagram and a homeless career.
The actress remembers that she only realized the turn that she had taken in her life when she noticed that they began to call her “Tokyo” on the street. “It was like everything changed from one day to the next, and even, I admit that I felt a certain fear,” she confesses.
Her carré-cut thief opened the doors of the whole world to him. She went from young promise to star for export: she stopped being the girl of the local teenage strips to become a name in the big leagues, a new Penelope Cruz in the making.
And now, she had to take the next step: say goodbye to Tokyo (the character) to welcome him to the real city of Tokyo, where she filmed scenes for the action movie Snake Eyes for Hollywood. That is, she got the first production in English.
“It was getting out of my comfort zone, because the last few years I worked in my country and in each shoot I already met a lot of people: suddenly, I felt a bit like the first day of school”, says Úrsula.

It is that with the character of Tokyo you made a leap to the international level.
There is a part of me that has not yet finished digesting it. I have lived experiences of all kinds. It is very difficult to be aware and objective when something this big happens to you. It was a strange feeling, that things were happening that I could not control. He constantly doubted if he was doing this right, if he was doing the other thing wrong…

You couldn’t get out of amazement.
Very little by little you digest the situation and realize that what is being offered to you is something very beautiful, and that that feeling is what will prevail. In the end, it beats everything bad and those doubts that run through you… But it takes time. People are loving: one day, walking down the street, they can tell you something you did not expect and it touches your heart. That goes beyond fiction: the audience empathizes with the characters on a different level than yourself.

Unexpected situations are the order of the day in his life and there seems to be no respite. “I don’t know where I live, I haven’t stopped traveling,” she repeats. One of her fixed trips is Madrid-Buenos Aires round trip, following her heart. In 2020, she came to Argentina to visit her boyfriend, Chino Darín, for 10 days. But she ended up living four months in the middle of the global health crisis. The place where she was quarantined? The house of her father-in-law, a certain Ricardo, another who knows a thing or two about playing thieves with wit…

When you’re here, how do you get along with your boyfriend and father-in-law’s fame and fans? They are very loved in Argentina. Are you jealous?
I’m sure I love Chino more than anyone else (she laughs)! But we will not compete. I love Argentina, its people, its everything… The crazy thing is that, before the pandemic, she had already traveled many times. But of course, at first I was going to enjoy my anonymity. And now the opposite happens to me: they recognize me! It is an incredible country and, to this day, I lost count of the stays I have had.

Because of the pandemic, you had a longer one than expected.
With the pandemic, what happened is that I was going to be there for ten days, to visit Chino, and I ended up staying for almost half a year. We were in an impasse in which we moved and they had not given us the house, so we had to settle in the house of the “gray in-laws”. It was quite shocking for everyone, but the truth is that Ricardo (Darín) and Flor (Bas) treated me like a queen.

How was that coexistence?
I couldn’t think of a better house for a quarantine. It is a divine place. The isolation with four people becomes a bit of a Big Brother sort, but at the same time it was very dynamic and fun. We spent all day playing, trying to occupy our minds as best we could. Sometimes we made it. Others, the truth, no.

What was the hardest?
In reality, the hardest thing was seeing how everything was rotting in Spain, and being away from my family caused me a certain discomfort. In that sense, I had a bit of a hard time. I was very worried about being so far away and that something might happen to my relatives… I suffered because I couldn’t have them close. I lived my quarantine, in a way, like the success of the series: they are experiences that you never finish assimilating.

Corberó’s relationship with Chino Darín (32) also has those unpredictable overtones that Úrsula describes. They met in Spain, when he disembarked at the end of 2015 for professional reasons: acting in the film La Reina de España, starring Penélope Cruz, and joining the recordings of the series La Embajada. It was in the latter that he met with his current girlfriend, who had just ended a relationship with the actor and model Andrés Velencoso.

In the strip, they were a couple: almost a practice for what was to come. “With Úrsula we understand each other with a glance: this is what happens when you start to get to know yourself more and more”, revealed Ricardo Darín’s son. When he arrived in Spain to join the series, he did so with the intention of it being for six months. Now, they have been in a relationship between both sides of the world for five years.

As a stage ends with the end of La Casa de Papel, Úrsula’s emotional state is as special as that of Messi leaving Barcelona. “I fire a character who embodied half a decade of my life. Personally, it was quite a drama: I’m not going to lie. The last days of filming we were all very touched. I’m a crybaby myself, but in those final two weeks, how I cried!… We had to stop the scenes because I couldn’t stop crying. I am anticipating events: the most natural thing would have been to go through ‘mourning’ after filming ended, but I went ahead and for the last recordings the end of the cycle was already throbbing with tears”, he confesses.

What atmosphere reigned in filming during this last season?
We were all very tired. And I knew that, despite everything, this had to end. I felt that we were partly in need of it. This is a very, very demanding series.

A challenge as an actress?
No, not just at the interpretive level. Although the characters are all the time in extreme situations and making very strong decisions in each scene. It is physically demanding, due to the action. Especially this last season, in which a real war is unleashed: it is the most warlike thing we shoot and all that action can be very laborious. There was one scene in particular that we shot for two weeks. It was like living in El día de la marmota: I had been saying the same text day after day.

Were you satisfied with the closure that was given to the story?
There is something that happened in all seasons and that is that, at one point, I thought: “That’s it.” He supposed that everything had been told, that all that there was to be shown had been shown. But, suddenly, the announcement came: a new season. And I don’t know how they do it, but they always get a little better! That capacity, added to the fact that we knew it would be the last chance, made us throw all the meat on the grill, as they would say in Argentina: choripán, molleja (pronounced Argentine), strip roast. Has it all.

What did all this pressure mean to you as a performer?
It was amazing to live. She would read the scripts and think, “These people are crazy!” He even sometimes asked the main director of the series, Jesús Colmenar, how we were going to shoot everything he had in mind because he saw it as impossible to do. And he admitted to me: “I have no fucking idea how, but we have to do it.” I think that is the beauty of the series, and it is what has made me not demotivated for a second, even though I have spent the last five years of my life shooting scenes. It all has to do with that element that there is always a new challenge.

The Corberó-Darín couple will have to adapt to new scales if Úrsula agrees to become the flaming Spanish promise of Hollywood, the new Penélope Cruz. Her landing in the US market is through Snake Eyes, directed by Robert Schwentke, filmmaker in charge of two installments of the popular teen action saga Divergent. But this new movie belongs to a different franchise: G. I. Joe, inspired by the famous line of action superheroes. Snake Eyes works like a G.I. Joe reboot had already had two films with Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis among his ranks – from the cinematic universe, in addition to narrating the origin of the character that gives him his name, a ruthless ninja. In this production, Úrsula plays “La Baronesa”, a villain of the terrorist association Cobra. The film finally opened on July 23 in the United States. During filming, Úrsula overcame a first challenge: acting in English.

“When the opportunity to participate arose, it happened to me that I didn’t speak a lot of English,” he reveals. My level was pretty basic, to put it mildly. I like challenges. But I suffer them, of course, especially before facing them, there appears that fear that one feels when one does not know something. But once I am there, I am to put a grip on the matter. I traveled to Vancouver, where I settled alone, and it was a reunion with my most vulnerable and childish side”.

You managed to enter the US film market, and now?
I would like to continue working in the United States. But also in other places. I love Argentine, Asian, and Italian cinema. So I wouldn’t say that I’m focusing on Hollywood. Although if things come out, welcome: to everything that leads me to improve as an actress and person, I could never say no. I improved my English a lot, and I have made friends from all over the world. Something very crazy is that the recordings began in Vancouver, the same name as the production company of La Casa de Papel, and then continued in Tokyo, as my character. I feel that everything is linked in a very magical and strange way.

Now, playing futurology, where do you see yourself in a decade?
So much has happened to me in just the last two that I have lost all references. Life has only surprised me. The only thing I would like is to be able to continue working on what I am passionate about and that I continue to be given the opportunity to make powerful characters like these, from whom I learn as a woman. With continuing to give life to a Tokyo, I am satisfied. That, and traveling a lot.

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