Portuguese actress Daniela Melchior made her major English-language and global film debut last year in DC’s The Suicide Squad. The now 25-year-old breakout star, who already enjoyed success in Portugal with nominations for two CinEuphoria Awards and one Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Award, became a new fan favorite for her role as Ratcatcher 2 in James Gunn’s latest foray into the superhero genre. After an audition process that involved chemistry tests with rats, Melchior officially joined the Warner Bros DCEU sequel/reboot. Starring alongside the likes of Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, and John Cena, Melchior more than held her own as the strongest member of the Squad, bringing heart and charm to the villainous role, and demonstrating herself as a new talent to look out for in the States. Following The Suicide Squad, Melchior continues her English-language success in the upcoming Assassin Club, and Liam Neeson thriller Marlowe.
Read the full interview from The Untitled Magazine‘s latest print edition, The “INNOVATE” Issue, out now.
The Suicide Squad sees you make your US and English-language debut after a successful career in Portugal. Tell us about your role in the film.
My character’s name is Cleo Cazo, she’s Ratcatcher 2 and Ratcatcher’s daughter. When she’s not taking naps she has the ability to control rats and she has a favorite called Sebastian, who is her best friend.
How did you end up being cast for the role?
The Suicide Squad was one of my first self-tapes ever. In Portugal we didn’t have that kind of casting process, so when I signed with my manager from LA everything was new to me. So, I taped for it and sent it over even though I really wasn’t proud of it; I got a call a few days later saying that they wanted to fly me to Atlanta for a screen test and to audition in person. I did it, even though I was questioning myself all the time if they were sorry for me or something – I couldn’t understand what they saw in me from that tape!
Did you have any particular fears about making the jump into Hollywood films?
I wasn’t yet comfortable with acting in English because even though I had English classes for many years, it was not natural to me yet. But when I booked the role and had more time to speak with James Gunn about my character, I was immediately relieved because he wanted my natural accent. With jumping to Hollywood, I never dreamed about it in the past so I didn’t even have time to develop fears about it besides the language barrier!
What most attracted you to the role of Ratcatcher 2?
I love the fact that she is different from every other member of the Squad, and I almost could say that she’s not a super villain yet… that might be interesting in the future. But I wasn’t the one who chose Ratcatcher 2, James really chose me to play her.
Can you talk a little about the experience of working closely with the rats?
Being able to have actual rats on set helped me a lot to never forget her power, even when she wasn’t using it. They are such smart creatures and helped inspire me even when I wasn’t on screen.
What challenges did you find arose when working on a film with such enormous sets and a great deal of practical effects?
Having gigantic sets and many practical effects really helped the shooting to feel more realistic. My biggest challenge was to stay focused and not be completely amazed by what the production teams had done for us and the movie.
Out of the talented cast featured in the film, who did you learn the most from on set, or what experiences did you take away most from the overall experience?
I don’t think it would be fair if I named only one person because I had special moments with almost everyone, and I loved getting to know them all more, learn from and listen to them. I will say though that James Gunn, Peter Safran (producer), Simon Hatt (co-producer), Lars P. Winther (First AD) and Henry Braham (DOP) were very present during my experience; they supported me a lot and made it all even more special.
What kind of lessons from working in Portugal did you bring with you to the US?
Our industry in Portugal is smaller in every way you can imagine, Portuguese actors and crew do a lot with almost nothing. I learned how to deliver when it’s needed, I learned to keep doing my best even when everything can go wrong, and if there is any kind of challenge I still need to bring the same passion and enthusiasm as if I was in the biggest movie ever.
You were nominated for two CinEuphoria Awards in 2019 and one Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Award for your work in the film PARQUE MAYER, can you tell us about your role in that film?
Deolinda was a girl who came with her abusive boyfriend from the interior to the capital of Portugal looking for opportunities in the ‘’Broadway’’ of that period in Portugal. She dreams about being an actress and she’s determined to leave everything behind to have the audience as her only friend and lover.
It actually came out after another film I did, but it was my first movie role ever. From the moment that I started that project I fell in love with the film process that was so different from my television experiences.
What would you consider to be the role you personally resonated with the most so far in your career?
I played a really dark character on a TV show a few years ago and I can say that shooting 20 scenes a day, crying, and acting out panic attacks and psychotic episodes really dragged me down for some time during and after production for some time. I felt that it opened me to some anxiety experiences that I had never had personally before.
Who would you consider to be your biggest influences as an actress?
I would say Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet, Viola Davis, Maggie Smith, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson… I could go on…
With The Suicide Squad being (technically) your second superhero film, are there any specific genres of films you would like to work on in the future?
I’m not sure, I’m really open to everything at this moment! I love a good drama and a good dark comedy, but I’m also really curious about experimental film.
Do you have any words of wisdom you live by to get you through tough moments in life?
Everything is temporary, the good and the bad.
This is our INNOVATE Issue, how do you feel you have had to be innovative in the past year?
That’s a really difficult question! I believe I personally have been innovative because the times have changed, and I really had to change and deepen the way I see life, myself, and others, thinking about what really matters and why. The sense of time has changed, and the sense of drive in life. Everything. I don’t believe I’m in the “post’’ pandemic. This “weird moment” that started in 2019 isn’t finished yet, but that’s the beauty of life. Like I said before, everything is temporary. The good and the bad.
Daniela Melchior @danielamelchior
Photography by Beau Nelson @beau_nelson for @theuntitledmagazine
Stylist Estelle Aporongao @estella.png
Make-up by Cedric Jolivet @cedricjolivet
Hair by Gregory Russell @gregoryrussellhai