Brazilian Actor Wagner Moura on Playing Fellini: 'I Need to Work on My Italian Accent'

Wagner Moura
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Brazilian actor Moura, star of the country’s "Elite Squad" crime thrillers, will play the villain in Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi thriller "Elysium." Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley and Jodie Foster are toplining the MRC-produced picture.

The actor, whose film "The Father's Chair" screened at the Rio Fest, spoke to THR about his upcoming role as the legendary Italian filmmaker -- and sharing the screen with Matt Damon.

Brazilian actor Wagner Moura's next role will be of interest to film fans -- he plays legendary director Federico Fellini in Henry Bromell's Fellini Black and White, which starts shooting in January.

The drama, in which Moura co-stars with Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Terrence Howard and William H. Macy, tells the story of the two days when Fellini went missing in the United States.

STORY: 'Elite Squad' Star Wagner Moura Set for Neill Blomkamp's 'Elysium'

"The script is great and I am honored to be part of this incredible project," Moura told THR. “I’m going to play one of the biggest filmmakers of all time, it’s an incredible role... a fictional (tale about when) Federico came to Los Angeles to receive one of his Oscars.”

The 36-year-old Moura, whose claim to fame in his home country is 2007's Elite Squad -- is preparing for his international debut in Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, in which he stars opposite Matt Damon. Moura says their relationship on set transcended any language barrier.

“I think that the actor’s language is the same in everywhere. He is a celebrity around the world, but beyond that he is an actor, a great actor," Moura said. "It was a great experience to play opposite him."

The sci-fi drama Elysium, which will hit theaters in August 2013, is set in a future where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

Moura, who has attended the Rio Festival several times to showcase his films, also spoke to THR about the importance of the fest for the Brazilian cinema industry.

“In the festival competitive category called Premiere Brazil, they select the best of the Brazilian’s productions and I’m proud to be part of it,” says Moura.  

REVIEW: Father's Chair (A Busca)

In his film Father’s Chair (A Busca) – which had its U.S. premiere at Sundance earlier this year  – Moura plays an elitist doctor who grew up hating his father. After his 15-year-old son disappears, the doctor's search for his son leads also to his father – portrayed by Brazilian veteran actor Lima Duarte. Father’s Chair won a prize for best fiction feature on Oct. 11.

Moura says he was interested in the family-drama because it was different than the other films are usually produced Brazil.

“It was not linked to politics and crime like City of God, Elite Squad and Carandiru,” he says adding, “Father’s Chair doesn't fit the profile 'action-blockbuster' that Brazil’s cinema is used to."

As for his preparation to portray the acclaimed director in the big-screen, the actor says he started slowly. "I started to study Italian, because the film will be in English," Moura said, "but I will need to work on my Italian accent."