This boy, Juan Diego, was destined to be an actor, it was in his genes: his parents? genes, and those of his sister María.
His mother, Cristina Rota, is now one of the most prestigious teachers of acting in Spain, so private classes - alternating with his studies in New York - were obviously on the agenda, both for Juan Diego and María. And today Juan Diego Botto and María Botto are both great Spanish film actors.
However, Juan Diego and María?s childhood was profoundly different from that of any other child prodigy: they arrived in Spain fleeing the military Junta of the dictator Videla, who had murdered their father.
Martin (Hache) came out in 1997 and automatically became an Ibero-American film classic, thanks to the brilliant dialogues the misfit teenager Hache shared with three great figures from the acting profession: Cecilia Roth, Eusebio Poncela and Federico Luppi.
The movie won a Goya, an Ondas award and a Silver Shell, but more importantly, it made the name Botto memorable to spectators, such that they would never forget him. The same goes for the directors who have hired him: Adolfo Aristarain, Gerardo Herrero, Montxo Armendáriz, John Malkovich, Ridley Scott, Marcelo Piñeyro, Imanol Uribe, Joaquím Oristrell... and his on-set companions: Javier Bardem, Jennifer López, Gérard Depardieu, Sigourney Weaver, Maribel Verdú, Penélope Cruz, Federico Luppi, Emma Suárez, Jordi Mollà, Carmelo Gómez, and Fernando Rey...
Time has forged Juan Diego into a dedicated, enterprising character, always ready to commit himself politically as well as professionally. He has remained on the left wing, progressive, determined to preserve historical memory. He is also highly dedicated to his career ? not content with acting, and shooting with some of the best people in Spanish cinema, he also writes and directs. He even dared take on "Hamlet", directing and playing the lead in a theatrical version starring José Coronado and Marta Etura.
La Celestina, Plenilunio (Plenilune), Sobreviré (I Will Survive), Asfalto, Silencio Roto (Broken Silence), Los Abajo Firmantes (With George Bush on My Mind), Roma, Obaba, El Greco, The Anarchist?s Wife, Historias del Kronen (Stories from the Kronen), 1492... and the magic of cinema ? combined with life?s twists and turns ? handed him the lead role in Todo lo que Tú Quieras (Anything You Want), directed by Achero Mañas - another little boy who was running round Ridley Scott?s sets making his epic about Indians and colonists.
As you are reading, Botto is preparing God Loves Caviar, together with Catherine Deneuve (another big name to go on the list) and in a few days we?ll be seeing him surrounded by killers and Nazis in his next, extremely promising film, Silencio en la Nieve, by Gerardo Herrero and also starring Carmelo Gómez. Not bad for a start, eh?
But actually there?s more ? at the Berlin Festival we?ll also be able to see him in Dictado (Childish Games), a project with director Antonio Chavarrías.