Rebecca da Costa from Brazil is making a fast transition from catwalks to the big screen. Yet snatching the lead roles isn’t always a joyride.
Breaking at the Edge (2013) saw her playing a mentally unstable woman fearing for the life of her unborn child. In her latest, the crime thriller The Bag Man (2014), da Costa turned into a hooker working at seedy motels and street corners.
In a strange way, It’s all very reminiscent of her “previous life” where Rebecca’s self-belief carried her through some pretty rough patches.
Bullied at school for her height and slender physique (she was cruelly nicknamed “the giraffe”), the young girl from Recife in north-eastern Brazil had to constantly repeat to herself: “Don’t worry. You are beautiful.”
Her fortunes changed at the age of fourteen. After winning a modeling contest, she started a career in strutting on fashion runways — and never looked back again.
Rebecca da Costa soon graced the world’s most glamorous brands like Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Escada, Hugo Boss, L’Oreal. She even became one of the advertising faces for the mobile phone giant Nokia.
“It was amazing to see other girls like me — skinny, tall, different. That’s when I started to get comfortable in my own skin, and by 17 I started to find my identity,” she says.
However, a visit to Los Angeles prompted a permanent move to the States, where Rebecca decided to focus on her true passion – acting.
Sharing the screen with Robert de Niro
Da Costa’s first lead was in the indie film L.A. I Hate You (2011), followed by roles in Free Runner, Mind Games and 7 Below with Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames.
And then, in 2013, she hit it big with the murderous mayhem of The Bag Man.
“When I first got the phone call saying that I got the part, and that John Cusack’s was going to play the lead opposite me, I almost had a heart attack,” Da Costa recalls. “I always have been such a big fan of him.
“Later on we found out Robert De Niro was playing a part as well, and I was like, ‘Oh my God — I can’t breathe!’
The first thing you think is I can’t do it — these people are legends! And they couldn’t be nicer or more giving. I was very impressed. They really pushed me to be the best I could be. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist working with them.”
Da Costa says filming in New Orleans was amazing and intense.
“It was a night shoot, so we shot every day from 6pm to 6am for two months, and it was very hard after that for my body to go back to normal. We shot in the swamp — three times we encountered alligators coming in the middle of the scene, and we saw a snake once — really crazy! But it was really cool and fun. We filmed in May and June of last year, and it was very hot with a lot of mosquitoes as well; I come from Brazil but they are much bigger in New Orleans!”
US, Brazil, and a desert island
Rebecca currently resides in Los Angeles where, in addition to her modeling and acting career, she devotes her time to such philanthropic efforts as Kids with Autism and Common Ground HIV. Isn’t she ever tempted to move back home, to Brazil?
“I love my country, and I go back to visit my family four or five times a year, even though it’s a very long trip,” says Rebecca da Costa. “I hope to attend the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro [in 2016], too. In my dream world, I’d like to live in both New York and Brazil.”
And, in terms of nice locations to live in, there’s another wish she would see fulfilled in an ideal world.
“If I could have one wish instantly granted, I’d wish for my career going so well that I could live on a desert island. That way, I could shoot a movie, and then hide on my private island,” the rising Hollywood star giggles.
“I love my privacy so much that I closed my Facebook account for years. I just reopened it a few months ago at the suggestion of my publicist. But I prefer to be private and even unavailable at times. I’d rather not even turn on my computer sometimes. The world we live in right now, everybody can know where you are in a second.”
“Rebecca Da Costa: Lovely Leading Lady” by Christine Fontana, New Orleans Living Magazine
“Exclusive interview with Rebecca da Costa” by Dorri Olds, The Blot Magazine
“Rebecca Da Costa and “The Bag Man”: Interview” by Kam Williams, Pittsburgh Urban Media