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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Elite Squad 2! with Rod Carvalho

If anyone has not seen Elite Squad (2007) by visionary Brazilian director Jose Padilha, see it now please! It is sensational!!! Please go rent it or buy it now so you can be ready to see Padilha's much anticipated sequel Elite Squad 2 (2010)!

I asked my friend talented actor Rod Carvalho to do an interview with me about his role as Captain Barcellos. He was hesitant until I assured him he could answer my questions in Portuguese. So, this is a translation. Hopefully, not too much will be lost in translation :-)

ME: Hi Rod, thank you for being here with us. Can you tell us about Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2? And can you discuss a bit about your role in the films?

ROD: Elite Squad was a marvelous film to have participated in. When I went to make the first auditions, they didn’t have the name of the film yet, they only knew that it was a film about BOPE. They didn’t even have the main actor, Wagner Moura, confirmed at that point. But, I love cinema and I wanted very much to film…like always…ha! I already knew the work of director Jose Padilha who, until then, had only directed documentaries- this was the first
long fiction work of his. Well, of my first audition until it was confirmed that I was in the film, it took six months! Six months of anxiety and waiting!…and of course, other auditions that followed. In the beginning, I went to make a scene only with a PM, but, like happens whenever there is a film, the scene ‘fell’ [was cut] and my character didn’t exist anymore. However, an available part appeared with one of the officials of BOPE, lieutenant Barcellos. I ran after it, stayed at the top, and got the part. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Apart from being a major part, there were more scenes and I could play opposite Wagner Moura, one of the best actors in Brazil. Afterwards, when the film became a success I became happier yet. It was a grand honor to have been part of the whole thing.

ME: That’s so brilliant! And now you are in the sequel with lieutenant Barcellos in a bigger part! Rod, can you tell us…How true does Elite Squad reflect real Rio life, especially as it is about the seemingly endless war between cops and drug-lords of the Rio favelas?

ROD: The film shows a little how the city is, yes in fact. But it isn’t only like this. One can’t generalize. There are people from other countries, and even from other cities here in Brazil, that are scared to come to Rio because of the film. But be serious! The whole world has cities that have their good side and their bad. The film shows one of the countless realities that we have here. Rio is a beautiful place, with marvelous places and people that I love! I wouldn’t change this here for any other place!

ME: Amen! I agree! I studied in Rio and lived there for a year during college and I never felt more at home anywhere in my life. It is truly a magic city. Granted, dangerous at times, but full of life and light! Rod, do you have any stories or anecdotes you might have about the process of making the film?

ROD: Well, stories of our preparation and rehearsals there are many, and many that are very funny. For example, during the training with the police, that was very hard and realistic, there were moments of laughing when the
companions were in a position of falling apart, or of coming up against something in another way altogether. But, the laughter remained only for seconds, then the officials called our attention and, many times, made us to do push-ups and run for punishment.

ME:  LOL! How close would you say the final film stuck to the original script?

ROD: With relations to the script for the screen, until the final day of filming many things were moving, from specific situations of characters to words, many as a matter of fact, already that most of the script was improvised by the
time of filming. And all of the scenes were accompanied by officials of BOPE that we the actors were adapting…from their clothes, gestures and general movements, until the speech and manners were portrayed in the correct way.

ME: Okay, I have to say that Jose Padilha is a huge inspiration for me. I remember when I was interviewed at UCLA film school and they asked me what five of my favorite films were. One of the five I listed was Bus 174 (2002), an astonishing documentary by Padilha. Probably the best documentary I’ve ever seen. What is it like to work with the great Jose Padilha?

ROD: To work with Ze Padilha was an incredible experience. He is a very fun and happy person. He is always with a good humor, joking with everyone. And he is always open to suggestions from everyone. And of course, during filming, he is always very concentrated.

ME: And he’s going to direct in Rio Te Amo (2011) which I cannot wait to see! Can you tell us what can we expect from Elite Squad 2? Will it be better than the first, which is hard to imagine?!

ROD:  Well, the second film will be as good as or better than the first. After some thought, I am with the second opinion. What I can say about it is that it will be more violent, yes… whoever became uncomfortable with the first, prepare yourself… but it is good to highlight that it is not gratuitous violence…well…I can’t let out more than
this…Have you seen the trailer? There is already a small hint of what I am speaking of.

View trailer here of Elite Squad 2!

ME: Mamma mia! I’m so excited to see this film! This will be amazing! Can you talk about how hard it is to make a film in Brazil? I know most films are funded by the government.

ROD:  These days, to make films in Brazil it’s more difficult than before, but, this doesn’t mean to say that it is easy. We have producers that help to make available funds to film with, but the amount of people that want to film grew a lot, therefore the competition is too big to find incentives from the government…

ME: Can you share with us what will you be working on in the future?

ROD: Well, besides from Elite Squad 2, there are many other films that I participated in that will come out this year: ‘Não se pode viver sem amor’, 'You Can’t Live Without Love' by Jorge Duran, and 'Amazônia Caruana' (Caruana Amazon) by Tizuka Yamasaky. Next week I will start auditions for a feature film from here that is called: 'O Abajur' (The Lampshade).

ME: Rod, we have something in common. We are also both journalists on the side of our art!

ROD: Yes! Other than my work as an actor, I am also a journalist and I write about film. I have a site called: CINETOTAL (, in which I write materials, notes and I make interviews and films critiques. Don’t leave without visiting my site!

ME: Rod, you rock!!! Thanks for this bountiful interview! I hope I haven’t messed up too much in translation. I wish you tons of success and hope that when you make it huge as an actor that you will find the time to honor us with another interview in the future.


Interview by Vanessa McMahon on July 31, 2010.



  actor Rod Carvalho with cast of Elite Squad 2!


See Padilha's stellar film: Bus 174 (2202)

trailer here:

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