Interview: Paula Garcés from "The Maid's Room"

Photo Credit: © 2014 Paladin
August 8th, 2014

Over the years Paula Garcés has been known for many roles including: Maria in the Harold and Kumar films, Officer Tina Hanlon in “The Shield”, Lea Marquez on “All My Children”, and many, many more. Her latest role is in a new thriller called “The Maid’s Room” which will be released on August 8th. She plays the role of a young maid from Colombia who finds herself in a horrifying predicament. Paula was gracious enough to sit down with The Movie Network and tell us all about it.

Nick Leyland from The Movie Network: Congratulations on your new film!

Paula Garcés: Thank you so much. Did you watch it?

TMN: I did, see “The Maid's Room” and enjoyed it.  Do you think you could tell our audience a little bit about your character?

Paula Garcés: Sure. My character is a girl from Columbia who comes to this country in hopes of the American dream, a better life for herself. It's kind of hinted that she comes from humbled beginnings. So, because she's undocumented and doesn't have papers to stay in this country, really her only options in the beginning are to sort of clean houses. But she's such a cool person that she doesn't really see that as an obstacle. She thinks she's very lucky to have this job of cleaning this humongous mansion in the Hamptons in New York City, where her bosses are not necessarily gonna be breathing down her neck or spend time there. It's the summer time. Their son is actually gonna hang out once and a while there. And he's not like bad on the eyes. So, she's taking this opportunity as a step the towards the direction that she wants her life to take her to. And she wants to be educated.

But very quickly, as she starts her job, the story starts to unfold where she starts to realize that the son is involved in a crime. And because she has a very high moral standing and she knows right and wrong and she would actually take the right decision. She doesn't understand why the parents wouldn't make their son make the right decision. And then, she finds herself in a very sticky situation. And the way that this film is set up is that the tone of the film is, it's very a la Alfred Hitchcock and very Edger Allan Poe in its position. So, it's a suspense thriller that's full of twists and turns. And that really focuses the drama of good versus evil, or power versus humility, or the rich versus the poor.

And I think the character of Drina is just representative of what could happen to somebody in a desperate situation, you know? And I think the movie does propose a very big question on what would you do, if you were in this particular situation? And the answer might shock you. You might actually scare yourself. 'Cause if you're a parent, you might do the same thing that these parents are doing.

TMN: What would you do?

Paula Garcés: I mean, I don't know what I would do. I would like to think I would do the right thing and want to show my kids to do the right thing. And to confront their mistakes and to really think of what their actions might have big consequences. But I don't know. Any person can do anything in a desperate situation, even do desperate things.

TMN: Now, you touched on this a little bit, what you just said with the Hitchcock style of film. I wanted to know what it was like working on a film with a small cast. It was basically set in one house the whole time. Compare this to a role the more larger cast roles that you've had.

Paula Garcés: When I read the script, I fell in the love with the script. And again, it really, really kept me in suspense the whole time. And this role wasn't offered to me, I had to audition for it the good old fashioned way. So, I very much wanted to be part of this film. And then, I didn't know much about the details of production, but then when I did get the film and they're telling me that the schedule was gonna be really tight. We shot the film in only 18 days with not a lot of money. So, there wasn't a lot of room for error. There wasn't a lot of time to sort of rehearse or do anything. I mean, we really had to be on point, as far as the crew, as far as the team. It really had to be an all collaborative team effort.

And I had to really have a lot faith in Michael Walker, the writer-director, in that he was gonna take care of the details and he was gonna guide me, so that the story would move along and would be suspenseful and would be thrilling and would be entertaining, basically, 'cause that's basically what we want to do, is entertain. So, I had to really have a lot of faith in him and I did, and thank God that I did because, to me, the movie is really fantastic. It looks bigger than what it is. It has a beautiful score. It's shot like a big Hollywood film. To me, the actors are fantastic.

The story is... Again, it's a psychological thriller that does make you think. I think people who go see this movie are not only gonna be entertained, but it's thought provoking. I think, definitely, if you start talking about the film afterwards, there'll be some debates on what's right or wrong or how immigrants are being treated in this country or what would happen if you were in that situation. I really think the film is fantastic and I'm very proud of it and that's the reason why I'm willing to talk to everybody and anybody who's interested in the film. I hope people go see it, August 8th. And if they don't go to a theater to watch it, they should definitely get it on video-on-demand and recommend it to their friends. I hope.

TMN: What do you think is the significance to you of the ants in the film? 'Cause they are a major character in the film.


--Spoiler Alert--
Paula Garcés: I think its a big creepy factor. I think there's also nature versus being inside the house. I think its imagery.  I thinks it's definitely an image so that you can connect Drina's disappearance to the ants because she was so creeped out by it, and you see her various times trying to get rid of them and trying to clean them out of the house. So that when she's not around, it's like a big statement. It's like they couldn't clean her out of that house. They couldn't clean her memory out of that house. That's the way I took the ants, but I mean, different people have different things to say about the ants. Different people have different takes on the ants. To me, it also adds to the creepy factor. Sometimes not everything makes sense in life and, again, also in entertainment. So I don't think it has to make complete sense in order to be entertaining and creepy and suspenseful and thrilling.

TMN: I liked it. I thought it was almost like a foreshadowing for different characters.

Paula Garcés: Of her doom as well, yeah.


TMN: Yeah. Now, let's talk about you a little bit. You worked on some pretty dramatic shows besides this movie. You worked on The Shield, Warehouse 13, and All My Children, but you've done a lot of comedies too. How did you avoid being pigeonholed into one genre?

Paula Garcés: I've just been very, very lucky. I fought to be on The Shield. I have no bones about telling the truth about how I got on The Shield. I was not considered for the Tina Hanlon role at all. I really had to go into the producers and the writers and into that open call, kicking and screaming. And then, when I did get the role, I was only supposed to do maybe one or two episodes, so that when I got a call from the creator of the show, Shawn Ryan, asking me if I wanted to stick around for a while, I was just so excited because I knew it was gonna be an opportunity for me to show that I am not just a cute girl next door or that I just don't belong in light-hearted comedies and that I'm not, like, the sexy Latina of the cast.

Even though they absolutely use all those traits to the show's advantage, it really portrayed me, like you said, in a dramatic series and gave me an opportunity not to be so glamorous all the time. So, I'm really grateful that the creators and the producers of that show gave me that opportunity because then it opened doors for other things. Because of that, I was able to play other roles of lawyers, of astronauts, of scientists, of a teacher, other things that I wouldn't have necessarily gotten a chance to do had I not done The Shield.

And as far as comedy, I'm just naturally a light-hearted person. I like to joke around a lot. I think laughter and humor is a very big part of life and we all need more of it. So I think naturally, when casting directors or when directors and writers meet me in person, they see me as a more light hearted, maybe more a funny actress. But then again, like I said, I've been very lucky to have dramatic roles on tape so that they do see, "Oh wow, she can also do that." So I've just been lucky, I guess. But I did fight hard for The Shield.

TMN: You spoke about being a Latina actress, and I want to know what that has done to benefit your career and how has it, kind of, not benefited your career, being a Latina actress?

Paula Garcés: I don't know if it's benefited or not benefited. It's just is what it is. It's who I am. Not all of the roles that I have gotten have been written as a Latina character. So I'm lucky that my representatives and that there's writers and producers, out in Hollywood, that are willing to see me for any role, no matter if it's not written for a Latina. So that when I do get a role that's not necessarily written Latina, very quickly, I think I inspire them to either change it to a Latina, or they very quickly realize that, " Why not a Latina? It is who she is. It's part of her essence."

I was born in New York City, but English wasn't my first language because I moved, when I was a little girl, back to Columbia for a little bit. When I did come back to the States, I had to re-learn English. So I have a little bit of an accent in my English, although I can make it go away, and I speak very well. I just think that sometimes smart producers, smart writers, smart directors, use the natural essence of a person, of an actor, to enhance a certain character. I think that's when the characters come to life a little bit more. But am I capable of doing the non-Latin roles? Absolutely. They just have to make sense for my look at that certain moment in time.

TMN: Can you tell us a little bit about the movie you're working on right now, Adult Beginners? Because there are some seriously funny people in that film.


Paula Garcés: We already wrapped, and I am so grateful to be part of that film. When I shot that film, I had just had a baby a month prior, so I was fresh out of the delivery room [laughter] basically. And I was told, "Hey, they're thinking for you to play this hot babysitter." And trust me, I felt every type of emotion at the time except hot. [laughter] And when I went to the meeting with Ross, the director, and with Nick Kroll, to try and get the role of the film, I probably gave the worst meeting of my entire career. How they saw past my meeting and how they gave me the role, I have no idea, but I'm extremely grateful to them because I had so much fun.

Nick Kroll is an extremely talented person who just made me laugh the whole entire time, at a time when I needed to just relax and laugh. And Rose Byrne is really, really sweet, talented actress who also has... Like, she's extremely good looking, but also has a funny bone. And I love beautiful women that can be funny and make fun of themselves, and she's one of these people. And Bobby Cannavale is also in the film. I had a fantastic time in New York. We filmed it at a time when it was snowing a lot outside, so it was great to just laugh and do this film. And I'm really thrilled that it's gonna be coming out soon. I think people are really gonna enjoy it.

TMN: Cool. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me, and hopefully our audience will go check out your new movie, The Maid's Room.

Paula Garcés: Sure. Thank you so much. With your help, I'm sure they will.