Glória is not only the first Portuguese series to premiere on Netflix, but it is also the biggest budget series in the history of Portuguese production. It follows a very interesting narrative focused on KGB espionage in the 1960’s at the height of the Cold War and during the Portuguese dictatorship.
To give shape to this masterpiece, director Tiago Guedes chose Miguel Nunes to play João Vidal, the main character, who was a young man from a wealthy family, linked to the dictatorial regime, who decided to fight against the political regime that then existed in Portugal.
Despite being a fiction series, the background behind the show is real. At the time when Portugal was under a dictatorship, in the village of Glória do Ribatejo, there was a radio station (RARET) where operated a North-American radio with the goal of broadcasting Western propaganda to the countries of the Eastern Bloc.
In the first season of the series, which has 10 episodes, João Vidal, became a KGB (Moscow secret police) spy, recruited after his return from the Guinea-Bissau War. Then, João Vidal started working at RARET, taking advantage of his work as an engineer to obtain information.
The actor behind João Vidal
The story of actor Miguel Nunes began many years ago. Miguel Nunes was a 10-year-old boy playing in the street with his twin cousins (a few months older than Miguel) when a lady who needed triplets for a role found the right boys she needed. This was his first experience and would be his first steps towards a dream career in Portuguese cinema.
Even though, when we went to high school, he decided to take an accounting course as it gave him the chance to study languages, something he also really enjoys, and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to become an actor. Then, a friend of Miguel Nunes encouraged him to apply for Morangos Com Açúcar (a popular youth television series in the early 2000s in Portugal), and following the casting and was accepted. Afterwards, he graduated in Theater at the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema and since then he has been working as an actor.
Before Glória, Miguel Nunes participated in several films such as Teresa Villaverde's O Cisne, which led him to receive the Young Best Actor award at the Lisbon Estoril Film Festival. Through this interesting career, theatre was also one of his great passions that helped him to let his imagination and creativity soar.
"My casting was about giving up an identity"
In this challenging role, Miguel Nunes studied hard to make sure everything was headed in the right direction. The 33-year-old actor met several people who were linked to the carnation revolution to find out how to get into character. “I went to meet people who fought against the dictatorship, many people who worked in secret - thanks to those hidden people we now live in freedom”.
As the role he plays is about a young man who gives up his identity to become someone else, with a different ideology and values, his “casting was giving up one identity and finding another,” said the main actor.
In fact, this series is a great opportunity to learn more about Portuguese heritage as well as the Cold War in Portugal, not letting Portugal's history die. “The narrative has an interesting background because it was little known that there ever was an American broadcasting centre (RARET) located in Portugal”, even for the Portuguese people.
“This story helps to make our history known as a country that lived through a very severe dictatorship and a colonial war that lasted for many years and still has an impact today. We still have people that live their lives with war trauma because of a war that they couldn't choose not to go to,” he said.
“That's why I also find it very interesting. With this series we can see where we are now, what problems we had back then, which is important to prevent them from happening again. We have the opportunity to reflect on what happened, also on issues such as the colonial war: the men who went to the war, the women who stayed and our relationships between white people and black people”.
In short, playing the character of engineer João Vidal, according to the actor was a pleasure for the “challenge and the opportunity to work with a very good team”.
Portuguese films in the international market
“Portuguese cinema has been on the international market for a long time,” said the actor. However, he believes that the fact that Portuguese and English are spoken throughout the series, along with the international political framework, may have contributed to the even greater success of this project.
However, despite the excellent quality of Portuguese films appreciated by so many people worldwide, the lack of investment continues to be one of the biggest challenges preventing Portuguese cinema from stepping up to the plate.
Miguel Nunes said: “The biggest obstacle is not having more funding and I think that if we always had that investment - like we had in Glória - we would have more time, and time is key because in our job as it allows us to rehearse, it allows us to repeat and that's what an actor's work is all about”.
Have you watched the first season of the series? If so, you might be wondering if there is any information about a second one. However, we still don't have any information on that - just stay tuned!