Eva Longoria on playing a mum in Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Eva Longoria will play the mother in Dora The Explorer the movie with Michael Pena
Eva Longoria in the Dora movie

The Desperate Housewives actress talks about how it felt to portray a mother in the movie and filming in Australia

By Rosa Gamazo, Four Star Films

Published: Mon 12 Aug 2019, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 4:40 PM

Eva Longoris is honoured to be part of Dora and the Lost City of Gold. "Dora's going to be the first Latina superhero," says the Mexican-American actress. For the former Desperate Housewives star, who had to start shooting in Australia soon after becoming a mum, it was challenging and adventurous as she had to take her two-month-old son, Santi, along with her for the filming of the movie. However, the actress says she had fun working in the film as it reminded her of her adventurous childhood days while growing up on a ranch. "I was Dora," she says.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold, which is set to release in the UAE this weekend, premiered in 2000 as an animated series for children. The story follows 16-year-old Dora (played by Isabele Moner), who grew up in the jungle. Her parents send her to live in the city with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and school. But when her explorer parents, Cole (Michael Pena) and Elena go missing while searching for the mystical lost city of the Incas, it is up to Dora, her cousin and friends, and a talking monkey to help her find her parents and solve the mystery behind the lost city of gold. Longoria shares how it felt to portray a mother in the movie and how it was filming in Australia. Excerpts from the interview.

We like your character, Elena. She's adventurous and she's also a mum. So how was it playing this character?
It was amazing because it was the first time I'm playing a mum after being a mum. I'd just had my son and I had to go to Australia, and I was breastfeeding, and he was two months old and I wasn't getting sleep. So it was definitely challenging, but so much fun because I approached the character in such an authentic way. Like, I'm a mum and I'm playing a mum - so that was a lot of fun. And also to be in a movie that's an adaptation of this iconic character for the Latino community. I didn't know she was all over the world. I thought... she was just ours [laughs]. And then everybody called me from Europe when it was announced, and they were like, "Oh my God; you know, you're going to be Dora's mum!" And I was thinking, "How do you know who she is?" So to find out that she was internationally known was surprising and exciting.

Has becoming a mum changed your approach to acting?
Probably. I think that's inevitable. Especially because I'm so proud of being a mum, so I'm always talking about it or posting about it. So, I think I'm being identified a lot as new mum. So sometimes, you'll get cast, that's because that's who you are. So as a producer and a director though, I'm creating a lot of opportunities for myself that are more diverse as well. Like, not just the mum part, but other parts as well.

What was it like living in Australia for four months?
It was amazing. I was there for about six, seven weeks. We shot in the rain forest in the north of Australia; bugs and snakes and everything. So there was days Santi (Santiago) could come with me to the set and days I had to drive back to get him - to breastfeed him. But the jungle was fun. Australia's great. I love that country; it's just beautiful.
Do you consider yourself an adventurous woman?
Oh yeah. Well, first of all, growing up I was Dora. I mean, I grew up on a ranch. We played with snakes and lizards and chickens and it was - you know, we were running around having adventures every day. We'd set off in the morning with our backpack, and we'd say - "Let's go have an adventure." So yeah, I understand her a lot.

Is there a bigger adventure than becoming a mum?
I don't know. I think that is the greatest adventure of life.

What was the biggest adventure you had before that?
Before Santi? Oh gosh, so many events. I love to travel and explore. You know, whether we went to Asia and went hiking, or we went to Thailand snorkeling, and Bora Bora swimming with the sharks. Travelling and learning new cultures is always an adventure.
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
I don't know. I feel like I take risks all the time. I think, you know, being politically active is considered risky for actors, there's so much division in the world right now and people have  political views, so you might lose a TV viewer, or you might lose half an audience. And for me, that was a big risk, but it was important stand up for what I believed in. Speaking about that, Dora is a strong female character.

Is it important, in a movie, for kids to have a strong female character to look up to?
It's so important, and you don't see them enough. And especially with Dora, she's going to be the first Latina superhero. She's swinging from the vines and doing all these stunts, and finally there's a character for little girls that is smart, brave, fearless and kind. And they don't really get those characters on the big screen to say, "Oh look, I want to be like that."

What's more dangerous for you, Hollywood or the jungle?
Hollywood, yeah [laughs].

Where would you find the most dangerous animals?
I think humans are the most dangerous animals, though - definitely Hollywood.

How important it is to have a multi-cultural production?
It's fun. It's so fun because with Latinos, we are diverse within diversity. You know, I'm Mexican-American, Michael's (Pena) Mexican-American, Jeffrey's (Wahlberg) Dominican, Isabela's (Moner) Peruvian. And we all speak Spanish. And there's not a divide about it, it's just the way it is and it's nice to see that on the screen.

And how important is it to remain yourself?
Very important. I mean, you have to be grounded and you have to be your own moral compass so that everything that comes your way, you know exactly how you're going to feel about it or handle it. And I think it's a really good message that this movie has.

Especially for kids, right?
Especially for a kid who have all the influences of social media and bullying and peer pressure. And they have the whole world telling you what you should be. And that's the time you're trying to figure out who you are. So it's a good message for them.

Bullying is another theme of this movie. How would you deal with it?
You know, it's not about what you tell your children, it's what you show them. And I think if you lead by example and show them how they should behave; how they should act. How they should have compassion and kindness towards people, then they will emulate that.

Will it be difficult to tell to your son one day, okay, there is the world; now you've got to start your adventure?
No. I just - I can't even imagine the day that I send Santi off into the world. He might be 40. I don't know. I definitely don't want to do that at this point.

Which kind of tips do you have for other mums?
I mean, you want your child to be independent and curious about the world, but (also) to be compassionate and kind.

Would you go with him to the jungle?
Yeah, of course! Safari, jungle, whatever. I will always go with my son anywhere.

What's the best place you would like to go with him?
Probably an Africa safari when he's older.

What about Australia? Did you go around with him?
Oh yeah, we went to the zoo with him. He was too tiny to remember any of it. He was only two months.

Was it scary for you? Like, taking your kid along?
Yeah. I was definitely anxious to take him on the plane - that was the longest plane ride, and I was like, "I don't know what he's going to do." And he slept the whole time [laughs]; like, he was perfect.

So he's already a traveller, and he doesn't even know it.
Oh yeah. He's been to Paris twice, Australia twice; Dubai. Everywhere!

When you're not filming, what do you do, like in the normal day?
Every day's different because I'm producing, I'm directing, I'm acting. I'm a mum; I am a philanthropist. So every day is different for me. But everyday I wake up with my son and also I put him to sleep.

Speaking about philanthropy, how important it is for you to give back to the community.
It's in my DNA. I've been doing this even before I was famous. But I think the misconception is that you have to be famous or rich to make a difference in philanthropy, but you don't. I mean, anybody can do it. It's not all about money. Sometimes it's about volunteering and time and energy and manpower.

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