*as will be published in CLAUDIA on 06/17/22
Actress Marianna Alexandre is only 21 years old. At home, her parents showed some hits from the 1950s, which she listened to with interest but never dreamed of or how important they could be to her career. It is because, it was up to this carioca, who underwent a physical transformation, to give life on screen to the iconic Celly Campello, in the movie Um Broto Legal.
The biopic, directed by Luiz Alberto Pereira, is now in theaters and shows, in the year that the singer would complete 80 years, her unimaginable trajectory of success in the country, when she became the first pop star of national rock. The release, like many other films, had its premiere postponed because of the pandemic. Marianna, who saw the result a few days before our chat, relied on reports from friends and Celly’s main collaborator, her brother and partner on stage, to build her interpretation.
Celly Campello had an angelic smile and a clear, limpid, and extremely tuned voice. When she re-recorded the Italian hit Tintarella di luna, by Italian duo Fillipi and Migliacci, translated as Banho de Lua, she was already the most imitated and adored artist in Brazil. It inspired artists such as Rita Lee and Os Mutantes, among other artists.
Born Célia Benelli Campello, on June 18, 1942, in the city of São Paulo, she spent her childhood in Taubaté, in the interior of the state. It was there that, at the age of 15 and with his brother, Tony Campello, stage name of Sérgio Campello, he made his radio debut and popularized rock among the youth of his time.
The film will introduce Sérgio and Célia, or Tony and Celly, and how they rose to success. Celly, who in turn was inspired by stars like Brenda Lee and Connie Francis, was a teenager when she rose to stardom and even had dolls created based on her look. She surprised fans when, at her peak, she left her career to get married and have children. With the TV Globo’s soap opera, in 1976, she revived a wave of success, but she did not want to return to singing professionally. She died in 2003 as a result of breast cancer. The movie A Cool Sprout (Um Broto Legal) promises to bring a wave of nostalgia in such difficult times. Marianna is just like Celly (she even sang a little bit of Stupid Cupid, wonderful). Who knows will follow in the footsteps of the star? See our chat here.
Being from a younger generation, I’ll start with the obvious. Tell me something: did you know Celly Campelo?
Marianna: Yes, because my parents always played her songs so I really knew her, but I didn’t know her story, whether I wanted to or not, when she died I was young, so I didn’t have all this contact. But the songs have always been part of my trajectory.
These days we see the successful creative relationship between Billie Eilish’s brothers and Finneas O’Connell. Celly also had something similar with her brother Tony. What was it like for the brothers to make music?
Marianna: And this is something that can speak a lot to this generation, right? Because she was young, as young as Billie was then. The one who was very focused on music and success was Tony. In fact, I think he was the one who most wanted to be a star. Of the two, he played rock at the club and Celly was just going to enjoy it. Tony, whose name was Sergio, was chosen by the managers of the Odeon label and Celly was a normal girl like any other girl at the time who always had a great contact with music because her father was always a great supporter. The mother not so much, but that was in the head of a woman of that time. But, in the same way, it never stopped anything either. Until an opportunity arose when Tony was in São Paulo, in the capital, and Celly was in Taubaté (they are from the interior of São Paulo). Tony managed to record a record with two sides and two songs. He sang and then she sang. My God. And she had the voice! In fact, they [the record company] wanted a senior singer and then he [Tony] said, “No, I have the right person,” and he called Celly. They loved the voice and then the buzz started.
And how was the road to national success?
Marianna: hen I’ll tell the story of the movie! Just for us to contextualize for the younger ones, right? The initial path was radio. They had to be played on the radio and Celly had a program on Rádio Cacique, in Taubaté, and it worked really well, so much so that her parents listened on the radio and supported her. So much so that she also considered, after they recorded this album and it ended up not working out very well, she told Tony “I think I’ll stay more on the radio show that is being successful, people liked and asked for music to sing live”.
And everything changed when they recorded the Portuguese version of the song “Stupid Cupid”, in the translation, “Estúpido Cupido”, right?
Marianna: Yes, uphill career! There’s only ascension, every hit, every wonderful thing.
And she had a well-behaved figure, tell me a little about Celly that we didn’t know.
Marianna: Celly was a “good girl” in the rock so, yes, it was a contradiction, whether you like it or not. That’s because the rock was seen – as they say in the movie – for people who are strays. It wasn’t the right crowd. Tony came to our rehearsals and said that his sister was a sweetheart, a sweetheart, that what was on television or in interviews was always her for real. It wasn’t someone else, you know? She didn’t make it up. She is a very angelic figure and that’s why she became Brazil’s girlfriend. He was a figure that girls really wanted to follow.
An influencer of your time?
Marianna: There’s a scene [in the movie “Broto Legal”], which shows that Celly took a picture of her pants and [“nice”] girl only wore a skirt or a dress. So girls started wearing pants because Celly wore pants. It had a very big impact, which is what we can also relate nowadays to the social network with influencers posting and followers copying. It’s been happening ever since! That’s pretty cool to say.
And can we stop and think that if Celly had continued her career, maybe we wouldn’t have met Wanderleia? Because she refused to join “Jovem Guarda” giving the singer the opportunity, but also because she dropped everything out of love. How was that relationship, marrying your first boyfriend?
Marianna: Dropped everything at the peak! At the age of twenty, he decided on marriage. I remember when I read the script for the first time, although I knew the story, I said “it was very romantic”. We approach everything very well in the film. Because that’s it. Everyone who knew her, everyone who spoke to me, said that it all ended up happening too fast and that it wasn’t really her essence. Celly had a dream of getting married, of having a family. Tony was the one who felt this decision a lot because he put her as a star, but Celly wanted to be “normal”, have a life, have children, get married, and ended up staying with her first boyfriend, Eduardo. They stayed together until the end of her life.
And how was Eduardo’s relationship with her stardom?
Marianna: Celly was in the music, with a radio program, appearing on television and he gave support, but in the film, which is made for dramaturgy, there are scenes in which he questions things like “but it’s not you”, there are some little clashes of the couple, even if in the end “everything works out”. There was the mentality at the time that she “didn’t have to work” and Celly puts her foot down and says “I want and I will sing”. She traveled, did show and he stayed in Taubaté because he had passed a public contest. They were super conciliatory, but like it or not, I think it should be a little stressful…
And what was her relationship with Tony like?
Marianna: The film shows this relationship and it is very beautiful. I had a really cool job with Murilo Armacollo, who plays Tony. It’s very beautiful to see. After I watched the movie for the first time it was super nostalgic to see the work we had in the rehearsal room and then see it on screen. We form a family emotionally, you know? We created really cool connections and I think that’s what they always wanted to pass on to us. Tony had the dream of being successful and he was there, next to Celly, doing it for her too. He was always putting her up, on the pedestal, giving support. It’s a very beautiful relationship to look at.
And do you have something like that in your life like Celly did?
Marianna: I have a sister too and I based it on that relationship. I’m the oldest, in the case of Tony and Celly, she was the youngest, but for me, it was very natural. And I also knew Murilo from other works, so it was wonderful.
How did the invitation for this project come about?
Marianna: I took a test. They were looking for options for the characters and my agent thought it was me. I said, okay, let’s send a test and I made a video playing the piano, singing “Estúpido Cupido”. Gal [Luiz Alberto Pereira, director of the film] later shared with me that it was the difference because I was already singing like her. They thought I was very similar, even though I had hair this long [long] at the time! [laughs]. But anyway, the first part was this video test. Then I came to São Paulo to audition in person [I’m from Rio, I’m from Rio de Janeiro], I played live [because there was a piano in the audition room] and I did the scene test with Murilo. Three weeks later they called me for another test, but there was none, they just gathered the people who had passed – Me, Murilo, and Danilo – the three protagonists and told us that we were in the cast. It was very cute. I loved it.
How did you prepare?
Marianna: It was a big responsibility because playing a person who existed is difficult. Not much of a collection, but I saw a lot of black and white videos, even though a lot had already been lost. There were more photos and reports of the people who lived with her. But I paid a lot of attention to making it very real, not caricatured, even because I’m from Rio, I have an accent and she was from Taubaté. There is a big difference, but it was always easy for me to pick up an accent and I listened to how people [from Taubaté] spoke. And the hair, obviously, the hair was a big change. We had weeks of preparation before recording and then very close to starting shooting, I was told “Mariana today is the day for you to cut your hair”. I never had a problem, you know? I love making transformations, even more for a character. I even made a video on my Instagram, which was really cool, with tufts of hair on the table [laughs]. It was a fixed cut, that very short one.
And was there any scene, any song that moved you the most? Or challenged you more?
Marianna: I knew many of them, practically all of them, but singing Banho de Lua and Estúpido Cupido was incredible, even more so because we played several shows so they were able to compile everything. When I saw the movie I was singing in the chair, very emotional because it is very nice to see our work after so much effort and dedication.
And what is the importance of recovering this history, Celly’s memory these days?
Marianna: It’s very important because she’s kind of immortal, transcends generations. There are even people who, when I made the movie, sometimes don’t know her name, but when I say she’s the one who sings Stupid Cupid everyone knows. It still plays at parties! And it’s important to show where she came from, how it all happened. Show that she already had contact with music, which is a super light, super fun story. We need these quieter stories.