MADRID – He was a sweetheart at the Royal Ballet in London and has just been named Director of Birmingham’s Royal Ballet, but in his characteristic humility, Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta insisted Thursday that his success as an actor in the biopic “Yuli” was largely down to the director, Iciar Bollain.
“Yuli,” which tells the story of Acosta’s rise to fame from the downtrodden streets of Havana to prima ballerina at the Royal London Ballet, was nominated for five Goya Awards, Spain’s prestigious cinema awards, including best script, music, photography, actor and sound. Acosta himself was in the running for best new actor.
“Honestly, a large percentage comes down to the direction, pure direction,” he told EFE in an interview. “Because there are many ways of acting and of making an actor do what is necessary and Iciar Bollain has been a master at directing amateur actors like us.”
He emphasized that a large number of cast members were debut actors.
Acosta could not believe the news of his nomination, he said.
“I am very grateful to the Goya Awards but I’m not going to let this go to my head and move to Los Angeles and abandon my career in ballet,” Acosta said. “I am 45, I have my limitations and one has to understand them,” he added.
The film, based on his autobiography “No Way Home,” tells the story of how Acosta’s father, a truck driver who was a decedent of slaves, saw potential in his son’s dancing abilities and encouraged him to pursue a career in dance, seeing it as the only way of escaping poverty.
It took Acosta a long time to find the right team to bring his memories to the big screen, but when he met English screenwriter Paul Laverty – Bollain’s partner and a regular collaborator with English director Ken Loach – he knew immediately that the project would be in good hands.
The film relies heavily on beautiful images and wonderful choreographies working with Cuban dancers that enhance the more emotive sections of the biopic.
“‘Yuli’ is my story, my narrative. The story of how they helped me, the help that I now want to pass on to children, to show the hidden talents of disadvantaged countries to the world via the Carlos Acosta International Foundation,” he said.