Poncela, Eusebio

(1947- )
   In the late 1960s, Eusebio Poncela performed for a number of independent theater companies. His film debut was as an ambiguous young man in Eloy de la Iglesia's La semana del asesino (Cannibal Man, 1972). It was the first in a series of controversial roles that echoed a reputation as a nonconformist, fiercely original actor. During the Transition, he took on risky parts in adventurous projects and became one of the most reliable performers of the period. Roles from this period include a terrorist in Operación ogro (Operation Ogre, Gilo Pontecorvo, 1979).
   In 1980, Poncela was the film-obsessed protagonist of Iván Zulueta's radical Arrebato (Rapture). Poncela shared with the world of the film a movida background, including experimentation with drugs, an issue he has discussed candidly.
   Poncela became a popular actor after his part in the television series Los gozos y las sombras (Joy and Shadows, 1982), which would be followed by further television work, and his role as detective Pepe Carvalho in a series based on noir novels by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán remains among his best remembered appearances. The links between life and work continued during the 1980s, with his two roles for Pedro Almodóvar. He played a policeman in Matador (1986) and Almodóvar's alter ego in La ley del deseo (Law of Desire, 1987).
   Poncela also played a police detective in the little-known Diario de invierno (Winter Journal, Francisco Regueiro, 1988). He was typically excellent as the devil in the period drama El rey pasmado (The Baffled King, Imanol Uribe, 1991), but his career slowed, probably related to personal issues, and in recent years he has expressed discontent with his choices and his work during this period, referring to films like El laberinto griego (The Greek Labyrinth, Rafael Alcázar, 1993). In the mid-1990s, he decided to leave everything behind and moved to Buenos Aires with good friend Cecilia Roth, where he worked little but rebuilt his private life.
   Poncela returned to Spain in 1996, and this was the start of his mature phase. Theater work was followed by a critically acclaimed part in Adolfo Aristaráin's Martín (hache) (Martín, Jr., 1997), which once more had a strong autobiographical input. The rawness of his part as opinionated, mercurial Dante inspired audiences, and he repeated a similar character in Vicente Molina Foix' Sagitario (2001). Together, these are his two most accomplished performances. Following Sagitario, he alternated intimate, personal work, as in Roger Gual's Remake (2006), with character parts in period films like Los Borgia (The Borgias, Antonio Hernández, 2006) and Teresa el cuerpo de Cristo (Teresa, the Body of Christ, Ray Loriga, 2007).
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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