Warning: Season one spoilers ahead!
Teresa Mendoza is back! Alice Braga returns on USA’s hit drama Queen of the South. After running for her life in season one, Teresa is getting a whole lot closer to being the head of the Dallas drug cartel. She’s going into business with Camila Vargas (Veronica Falcón) as she rises up to be the queen we see in the show’s flash-forwards.
Still hard at work on Queen of the South season two, Alice Braga called us from the set in Dallas to talk about the new season. More surprises are in store for Queen of the South including the return of Guero (Jon Ecker), who everyone thought was dead, more action (fast and furious with an AK-47 in a car chase!), and more glamorous fashion. Queen of the South returns June 8 at 10/9c on USA.
USA Network: How did you like hanging out of the truck with an AK-47?
Alice Braga: It was kind of frightening. That’s a characteristic from the book. She never liked guns, so for her to get a gun in her hands and shoot is something very violent, even for herself. Me, Alice, I don’t like guns personally -- but for Teresa, I know it was a hard task. It was mainly to survive so it was fun to shoot, but for Teresa, it was so she could survive.
USA Network: Will there be more action this season?
Braga: There’s going to be a lot of action but this season is more melodramatic, with more dramatic storylines and more character interaction than season one. Season one was more that type of physical action. This one is more toward a different type of action. It’s more related to the characters and their drama, rather than their physical action of trying to survive.
USA Network: How will Teresa react to the news that Guero is still alive?
Braga: It’s very shocking for her. That was a really wonderful scene. I love working with Jon Ecker. I think he’s a wonderful actor. It was really interesting to be able to play a scene where you think somebody’s dead and then you have to see him again, touch him again, kiss him again. For Teresa, it was kind of like a dream come true but at the same time, with the pain of being abandoned by him -- and how come he’s alive -- she went through so much. It was great to have the material to be able to challenge myself to play.
USA Network: How complicated will the love triangle get between James and Guero?
Braga: Not that much. It’s funny because James ended up not being a character that Teresa fell in love with, but someone that she partnered up with more than anything. It wasn’t a love interest. I think the main thing between her, James, and Guero is that James became in a weird way like a mentor to her. She was just trying to survive and when Guero is back, suddenly there is this guy around Teresa all the time because he works with Camila and now Teresa is working for Camila. There’s this battle of trust and all the conflicts of who can you trust and who can you not? It’s an interesting battle. More than love, I think it’s about power and about trust.
USA Network: Is her business with Camila stronger because she’s not on the run anymore?
Braga: It’s interesting because she ends up partnering up with Camila because she still needs that in order to survive. Camila said to her, “Look, you can go away if you want,” but we all know that Camila can just kill Teresa in a second because she knows too much. She's already too involved. So I think it’s all a matter of survival and trying to do the best that she can in the business, because the more you know, the more power you have. I think you see that surge of getting more mature, of being someone who is good with numbers and knows the business. All is based on survival more than we think, because Camila is not someone you can trust, ever.
USA Network: Does Teresa ever sample the goods?
Braga: No. In the book, she would smoke pot and in the beginning of her story, she would snort coke, but she doesn’t use any product or get involved in the actual 'fun' of the business.
USA Network: Do you feel powerful playing Teresa?
Braga: I don’t know if 'powerful' is the word but I think I feel a lot of strength. It’s a character who never victimizes herself. She always tries to survive and she always tries to keep on going more than anything. I think every time you play a character like this, you end up taking some of it home. You always end up getting the chance to observe and not victimize yourself in simple situations. Because Teresa has been through so much and everyone tried to kill her, that’s something that definitely made her stronger. So I feel that. I think it’s strength more than power.
USA Network: Do you hear from all the fans she inspires?
Braga: I've never heard that but everyone says to me, “Oh my God, you’re such a badass.” It’s so funny because I’m 5’2” -- I’m small -- and I never saw myself as a badass person. But I think because in season one there was so much physicality, so much struggle for survival that Teresa had to take charge of her own life, that’s why they say that. I like it. The people are really sweet and positive. I’m very thankful for that.
USA Network: Will she have more glamorous fashion this year?
Braga: Yeah, I think so. Because of Camila, they decided to bring it up a little bit. She’s prepping Teresa to be second to Camila at her parties and events. So I end up being more in a dress and high heels which was fun, not in flannel as much as last season.
USA Network: What were some of your favorite clothes?
Braga: I love the Stella McCartney suit that Queen uses in the beginning. The white suit; that’s definitely my best one. I think the Ralph Lauren in episode 8 is a beautiful dress as well. Our costume designer, Amy Stofsky, is a wonderful costume designer and she does an amazing job.
USA Network: Are there fun times on the set after you do really serious scenes?
Braga: There are. The other day one of the photographers on set said, “It’s so funny because you guys are doing a series that has a lot of intensity and a bunch of hard scenes, but all the actors are always smiling and making fun and having fun and keeping it light.” I think it’s a way of getting things to be a little bit light on set instead of feeling heavier. It’s interesting to come on set and the Dallas crew is so great. Everyone here is so nice that we try to make everything lighter. Definitely there are some intense scenes that get you. After I shot Guero’s scene when I saw him alive, it was something that really got me. That night, I went back home with my heart with Teresa, meaning I was very touched by it. I think it’s a show that touches you in a way because it has powerful and strong subjects.
USA Network: Natalie hired more Latin writers this year. Did you notice more of a Latin voice to the scripts?
Braga: I did. Their main focus is more about the drama than having a Latin voice, but definitely giving a chance for Latin writers is important.