Maria Fernandez-Ache plays Palma police chief Ines Villegas
Q: Have you been surprised by the positive reception to The Mallorca Files?
A: Not really, because all the elements are there for it to succeed: the show is full of hope, fun, action and love. It’s just what we need at the moment, more so now than ever. I just knew it was going to be a hit.
I’m only sad that it hasn’t yet been broadcast in Spain, but I know that it’s on its way as I dubbed my character, Ines, in Spanish soon after we finished filming.
Q: How would you describe Ines’ relationship with Max and Miranda in particular in S2?
A: “When Ines first met Miranda, she was distrustful of this stranger who had suddenly turned up at her station. She’d had Max, for one, dancing to her tune for the last few years and now here was Miranda treading on her toes and getting Max to side with her. The whole system was upset by the arrival of this outsider and then, above all, Miranda lied to her. Throughout he first season, though, Miranda gained Ines’ trust and respect little by little.
You see the results of this in Season 2. Ines is actually a little bit in awe of Miranda, admires her and sees her as something of an ally. The relationship helps Ines to relax and enjoy life more.
It’s one of my favourite things about this season; you see two strong women in control working together as a team. I think that’s brilliant and about time we saw that kind of dynamic.”
Q: Do we get to see a different side of Ines this season?
A: “Absolutely. Now that she has an ally in Miranda, Ines is more relaxed and less tense. She used to use a lot of sarcasm and irony, which was her way of dealing with the pressure of being a woman in a man’s world and having to fight hard to compete with her male counterparts. We see much less of that in this season and a less angry and aggressive side of Ines, which I love.”
Q: How do you think the new-found rapport with Miranda will play out?
A: “It’s difficult to say. As an actress, I love the dramatic arc. We’ve started to see how that has developed, but thanks to the Coronavirus, it came to a bit of an abrupt stop, so it’s a bit of a broken thread.
Ines has given Miranda and Max much more control over certain cases, and feels good about that, as it has helped her to share some of the responsibility, but I do wonder if she will come to regret it.
Ines likes to be in control and there are times during this series when Miranda and Max go off and don’t tell her what they’re up to, leaving Ines to feel like a bit of an accessory. I can’t believe that Ines is going to be happy with that in the long term. She just doesn’t like playing second fiddle and I can imagine there might be a point where she explodes and starts to be aggressive and put obstacles in the way of Miranda and Max once again.
Of course, that’s great for dramatic tension – drama needs conflict.”
Q: Is there any side of Ines you would like to explore more?
A: “Yes, and I’ve actually been talking to the production team about it. I would love us to explore Ines’ personal life more, because I think this would help us to understand the morebrittle sides to her character - like why Ines is so strict, strong and sarcastic. And also to expand a bit Max & Miranda’s world!
We’ve had some hints about Ines’ personal life already; we know she is divorced and has an ex-husband; and that she lives alone with her dog. I think there’s more to reveal about her backstory and I’d love us to go there. In fact, we were going to find out a little more about her in some of the later episodes, but we never got to film these because of Covid.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to unveil more in season three...”
Q: What have you made of Ines’ wardrobe?
A: “What can I say. In the first series, Ines’ costumes were all angles and spikey – just like her. This season, as Ines has become more relaxed so has her wardrobe. I love her new clothes, she’s much more stylish. In fact, I think she’s a bit of a fashion icon – a real Cate Blanchett. Claire Lynch our Costume Designer has done such an awesome job on her outfits, as hasMagi Vaughn in Hair & Make Up; I love Ines’ look.”
Q: Have you enjoyed being back in Mallorca?
A: “Oh, I’m completely in love with Mallorca. You know, as a child I came here on a school trip when I was about 13/14 and I didn’t really think anything of the island. But being back as an adult, you really appreciate just how breath-taking this island is: the weather is gorgeous; the landscapes are astounding; and the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range...”
Q: How important is the on-set chemistry between the cast and crew?
A: “It’s essential. I enjoy coming on set to The Mallorca Files so much and it really is one of the happiest jobs I’ve done. I’m not there every day, and it can often be difficult for actors to feel connected to a show in those circumstances. But everyone in the cast and crew is so open and lovely and that makes you feel like we’re all in this together. It really does have a family feel to it.
And because we have a cast that includes Spanish actors, I’m often working with some old friends, who are big names in Spain, and appearing in the show in guest roles. It’s lovely to be able to do that and work with them again in a different language; it’s real fun!”
Q: What are the challenges of acting in a second language?
A: “It’s a big challenge, but that’s what makes the job interesting and exciting. Acting is the same in any language (I speak five), but when you work in your own you’re concentrating on what you want to say – the actual words are just familiar instruments – while when you’re working in another language you can find that all your energy is focused on the words themselves. That’s the fight...
The most difficult are those moments of exposition and of moving the story on; even the smallest line can be hard to remember. The easiest is where there’s conflict as you can really use the emotion as your guide and now that I know Ines pretty well, I don’t need to worry about where she is coming from when she says something with emotion. I created a backstory for her to help me to understand what drives her.
The Mallorca Files is really well written, but it’s nice to be able to feedback to writers and directors and explain - as a non-native speaker - that the character would not necessarily say a line in the way it has been written on the page. It’s great to have the opportunity to adapt the script that way.
The prep work I do as a non-native speaker is painstaking and technical. Massive respect to Julian, who’s in almost every scene, and so whose workload is just phenomenal! In Spanish for example, the language’s flow conveys the sense of meaning, whereas in English sense is conveyed by which stress you place on which words, so I spend, a huge amount of time with the script analysing meanings and nuances and intentions, and then working closely on that different musicality. That can take time, but I love my job. Bring it on!”