Ghilherme Lobo is makes an indelible impression as Leo, the blind gay teenager in out writer/director Daniel Ribeiro’s delightful queer crowd-pleaser, “The Way He Looks.” Lobo, who is neither blind nor gay, has mostly performed as a ballet dancer, not an actor. In an email exchange with SFGN, he discussed his participation in the film, doing nudity, and his level of laziness.
You have a very good camaraderie with your co-stars. Was that a result of working with the same actors in the short and then the feature?
We have all become great friends since the very beginning of the process. Tess and Fabio are great actors and great human beings. I have no doubt that the feature film benefitted because of the connection we made when we acted together on the short movie a few years earlier.
How did you research your role as a blind teenager?
Actually, I didn't do much research. All I had was one day of Braille classes with a very gentle blind woman and that was it. The rest was between Daniel and me. We used to talk a lot at the rehearsals about how to make things look real. Daniel is a very open-minded director. He was always available to discuss the character and the script. So we had no trouble developing Leo.
There are many scenes of contact—Leo dancing with Gabriel, or riding a bike? What can you say about the importance of touch in the film?
Leo is a very sensitive guy—not only when Gabriel touches him, but also when Giovanna kisses him on the side of his face. There are some moments when he is not expecting anybody to touch him, so he expresses a little reaction. I think that it is spontaneous, and truthful. So, when Gabriel begins to touch him on the bike scene, or in the dancing scenes, Leo feels that touch more then another person would feel it. That means a lot to him.
Leo listens only to classical music. What kind of music do you like?
I took classical ballet classes since I was 7 years old. Today I am a professional ballet dancer, so I really like to listen to classical music, especially Tchaikovsky, Beethoven (like Leo) and Bach. I also enjoy tango (Astor Piazzolla), Frank Sinatra, Norah Jones, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, Bob Marley, Mika, Brazilian Popular Music, and a few other things. My taste is very eclectic.
Leo is not just blind, but also gay. What can you say about the themes of difference in the film?
I don't think that his being gay is the reason why the other students tease Leo. They bully him because he is blind, and because a boy is helping him. When Giovanna helps him, Fabio (the bully) calls her a "guide dog.” Leo adapts to that by responding, by fighting back. But at some point, he adapts by wanting to move away from that situation. I think that is typical behavior of a teenager who is having problems at school and home.
Leo practices kissing in the shower. He almost kisses a dog. Gabe is his first kiss. What can you say about your first kiss?
My first kiss happened when I was 10. Her name was Lara, and she was 12. We kissed in the theater where we were rehearsing our ballet presentation of “Don Quixote.” It was quite good--at least for me.
Can you talk about your career as a dancer and how that type of performing helped you with making this film?
I began my career by acting in “Beauty and the Beast,” in São Paulo, in 2002, when I was 7. Since then, I knew that I was going to be an artist. I acted in a few other plays, including “The Sound of Music,” but my first job as an actor without dancing or singing was on the short film, “I Don't Want To Go Back Alone.” It was quite a challenge, but also an amazing experience.
Were you comfortable doing the nudity in the shower scene?
At first, I was nervous. It was going to be the first nude scene of my life and career. But after the first 5 seconds, I was like "OK, everybody here had seen ‘this’ now.” After that I was totally OK with it. Three weeks ago I did another nude scene, but this time, was a love scene, with a girl.
Giovanna and Leo talk about their level of laziness. What is your level of laziness?
HA! I love this question! I'm working so hard in a new TV soap, and I’m also reading and studying a script of a feature film I'm going to shoot next year. I'm not allowed to be lazy now. So my laziness level is around 0.5 because I'm not made of iron.