Born in 2007, in sunny Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul, Antônio Zeni is a name that has been conquering his space in the arts since an early age. Fueled by a childhood filled with visits to museums, theater and musicals, Zeni embraced his passion for the arts with determination from the age of seven.
His dedication to his artistic training is remarkable, having accumulated a series of courses and workshops in acting, TV, cinema and theatre. His bilingual education at the New York Film Academy added an international dimension to his career.
This commitment yielded significant results, including memorable roles, such as the character Joe in the bilingual series “The Journey” (2019) and the role of Miguel Miller in the feature film “Sem Fôlego” (2021), available on Globo Play.
In the same year, Antônio shone as João Havelange in the Amazon Prime Video hit series, “El Presidente: Jogo da Corrupção”. Filming took place in Uruguay, and the series captivated viewers around the world.
The year 2022 represented a milestone in his career, when Zeni faced his first starring roles in “O Caminho de Hans” and “Perseguição e Siege a Juvêncio Gutierrez”. The first, a period film recorded in Serra Gaúcha, challenged him to master the German accent and even a few phrases in the Germanic language. The second, based on the book by Tabajara Ruas, explores the rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood and counts on the performance of Murilo Rosa and Werner Schünemann.
The beginning of 2023 already brought more emotions for Antônio, with the filming of the film “Chama a Bebel” in Porto Alegre, which features Giulia Benite in the cast and Paulo Nascimento in general direction. The actor had to make a radical change in his look, platinum his hair and face the role of “Beto”, scheduled for the second half of the year.
In addition to his passion for the arts, Antônio maintains leisure habits that include watching movies and series, listening to music and spending time with friends. His determination and discipline are inspired by none other than soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, a beacon of success in both his personal and professional endeavors. With a career on the rise, Antônio Zeni is a name to be followed closely in the Brazilian art scene.
How did you discover your passion for acting and what motivated you to pursue this career?
This cultural universe has been part of my life since I was very young. I have a grandmother who is an artist and my parents always took me to many theaters, museums, concerts, musicals and cinemas. It turned out to be natural to grow up in the art world. I discovered my passion for acting after my first professional experience. When I lived my first character and absorbed it, I said: this is what I want for my life!
You’ve had the opportunity to play a variety of roles in movies and series. Are there any characters that were especially challenging or memorable for you? Why?
The most challenging was Marcelo from “Perseguição e Cerco a Juvêncio Gutierrez”, in a film by director Tabajara Ruas. This was my first leading role in a feature film, and the role demanded a lot from me as an actor and that got me really excited. I totally immersed myself in this role and gave myself to the character. The film portrays the passage from adolescence to adulthood and I believe that I, as an artist, also went through this transition during the recording of the film.
The movie “The Way of Hans” required you to learn to speak with a German accent and even a few phrases in the Germanic language. How was this experience of preparing for such a specific role?
Having the opportunity to enter a reality completely different from mine, with a different language, with a strong accent, was an incredible experience and the construction of this character was very interesting, precisely because of the immersion. In addition, he was the first protagonist of my career, and it helped me a lot to understand the size of the responsibility that a starring role entails, it was a very big delivery.
In “Perseguição e Siege a Juvêncio Gutierrez”, you play a character in a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. How do you approach the emotional construction of complex characters like this?
One of the most enriching experiences of this film was having the opportunity to record a romantic scene on the same day and hours later to record a completely dramatic scene. My character goes through a very strong emotional transition and having that established and well marked before entering the scene was extremely important for me, and for this emotional construction of the character. In addition, Marcelo goes through growth throughout the film, where he imposes himself and grows along with the story, and in my view, that was one of the coolest parts of this work.
You participated in the series “El Presidente: Game of Corruption”, which achieved international success. How was it to be part of a production that was recognized in several countries?
It was an incredible opportunity to be able to play such an iconic character in history. João Havelange transformed football into the power it is today all over the world. This experience was very enriching, especially with all the exchanges I had with the actors backstage on the set. We were many actors of different nationalities and we were able to exchange experiences and stories and that was great and very useful for my professional experience. In addition, you could feel the taste of a great international production. I really enjoyed being on this project.
You mentioned that you’ve taken courses and workshops in acting, dancing, and more. How do these backgrounds influence your approach to acting and how do you keep improving?
A new character is a blank canvas and the tools the actor has are paints. The more interesting tools the actor has, the better he can paint that picture and build a character. I really like studying and learning new things, so I’m always in constant learning, I try to take courses, workshops and I believe that this is very important for anyone in this profession. We are never 100% ready, the actor doesn’t know everything, that’s why each character has a new lesson, a new improvement of his tools.
In your free time, what are your favorite activities besides acting? What do you like to do to relax and recharge?
I like to do many things. In my free time I like to watch movies, series, play golf, football, go to the gym, read books and hang out with my friends. Now, to recharge my energies, what I like to do most is travel, for me there is nothing better in the world than traveling!
You had the opportunity to act in different media such as TV and cinema. Is there one you prefer or feel more comfortable with? What are the main differences you notice between them?
In cinema, there is more time to do things, for example, adjust details of scenes, while they are arranging the light, camera… In television, the timing is much faster, there is less time to produce and air. I think this is one of the biggest differences between them. An actor has to be as versatile as possible to be able to act in different media formats, that’s why I don’t have a preference between cinema and TV, I like to act in both.
Looking to the future, what are your plans and aspirations in your artistic career? Are there any types of roles or genres you’d like to explore more?
For the future, I would like to make films that explore different genres, such as action, horror and comedy, for example. The more different roles, the better! In addition, I aim for an international career, this is one of my biggest dreams. I’m studying and preparing for it. I speak English fluently, I’m perfecting my Spanish and I’m looking to learn foreign acting techniques, I think this is the first step towards a career outside Brazil.
Follow Antonio Zeni on Instagram