Pablo Macaya

PabloMacayaMain.JPG. Pablo Macaya is a Chilean award-winning actor. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

Feature image: Pablo Macaya is a Chilean award-winning actor. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

Pablo Macaya’s Playful Acting Explores Fiction and Reality

Pablo Macaya is a Chilean award-winning actor whose playful art of acting explores reality and fiction. His versatile acting landed him on Netflix’s series “Baby Bandito” and “42 Días en la Oscuridad” (42 Days of Darkness), which reached the streaming platform’s top 10 ranking in the non-English category. He’s also appeared in Netflix’s feature film “Ardiente Paciencia” (Burning Patience). His acting is a reflection of the complexities that he experiences in life.


Pablo Macaya is a Chilean award-winning actor known for his emotionally engaging performances in feature films, television, and theater. In his last high school years, Macaya participated in a theater workshop. That was when he began discovering theater's power and strength. He started noticing how it is an artistic discipline performed in front of an audience.

“After high school, without knowing what to do, I remembered what I was most passionate about. The thing that made me vibrate and get the most excited during high school was that theater workshop,” Macaya said. “And there, I decided to study theater. Acting.”

That initial spark also answered his mundane question of finding a job that doesn’t feel like a job. A type of work that he doesn’t have to wake up early every day and that has no routine. The answers to these questions and his passion led him to study theater at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. It’s been 30 years of theater and acting for Macaya, where he has honed his craft.


He understood his art of acting as a game of deceiving the audience to convince them of his characters. He centers on convincing people that what they’re watching is real. That the emotions, the story, and the characters are real.

“There’s a component of reality and truth in that stage, in that acting, is a deception in which you resort to real tools: your emotion, memories, experience, and imagination,” Macaya said. “It’s basically a game—a serious game, a game that can be dramatic, a game that can go in a lot of directions, but it’s basically a game.”

Playing with Human Behavior

That game requires exploring acting as an art whose base is human behavior. Macaya enjoys diving deep into human complexities when creating a character or performing on a stage.

“It’s about reflecting on that. Plunging and navigating that. Diving in that aesthetic framework, so to say. Like a particular language that appeals to those topics: human behavior and complexities,” Macaya said. “I think it transforms into an artistic expression that becomes necessary. That becomes valuable. That can become vital for people, or not. But it has great communication and connection possibilities. It has the challenge of trying to affect [others] and reach an audience.”

BabyBandito.jpg. Pablo Macaya behind the scenes filming as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito.” Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.
Pablo Macaya behind the scenes filming as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito.” Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

Macaya finds himself as an actor and artist who struggles to feel like an actor in that playful art of acting. It’s taken him time to convince himself that he’s an actor, but it’s also led him to understand himself as an intuitive actor. He trusts his intuition by achieving a real connection with what he’s doing. That means he strives to connect with the character he’s interpreting and the story he’s part of.


That intuition comes with keeping himself open to a director’s instructions and collaborating with his acting colleagues. He describes himself as a living doll with real energy that seeks to do the best job in an ongoing collaboration with a director.


But being an actor implies Macaya lives in constant uncertainty, in which his abilities, capabilities, and capital quickly evaporate. It’s also a profession that conflicts with him whenever he’s not working.

“When I’m not working, I feel I’m nothing—that I’m not even an actor—that I’m unemployed. And when I act again, I feel it again. Oh yes. I have a track record in this profession, and I have the tools to jump into the pool,” Macaya said. “When acting works, when your craft is in a harmonic context, I think it’s the best job in the world.”

Diving Into Life’s Complexities

Whenever Macaya feels his acting is the world’s best job, he builds and plays complex characters. Interpreting these characters means he’s expanding his knowledge as an actor because it implies putting himself in someone else’s shoes. It’s about imagining other lives and conflicts. He enters situations that are alien to him but make them his.


For him, it’s about expanding his mental and spiritual horizons by exploring his feelings and perspectives. It allows him to look at himself in the mirror. He questions himself and looks within to find those conceptual and abstract elements he needs to transfer to his work. It’s a professional performative art that becomes personal because he gets to know himself better and understands how the world around him functions.


This comprehension of the world is synonymous with the complexities of his characters.

“For me, it’s about the contradictions as a path. I’m always looking for what the story is telling me or what’s beneath the texts. I navigate the depth of the texts and discover those contradictions,” Macaya said. “It’s about discovering the complexities of the objectives that the characters want. Nothing in life is gray or black and white. Everything’s full of nuances, contradictions, and things that don’t fit within people.”

BabyBandito6.jpg. Pablo Macaya as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz
Pablo Macaya as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz

He finds where his characters fail themselves within those contradictions. When they lie or when they’re sincere. He tries to understand why they do what they do. He scrutinizes characters step-by-step to comprehend how they transit through life. In this meticulous approach, he tries to make each character a particular one where reality strikes the audience. Macaya wants his characters to be honest and full of contradictions, lights, and shadows.


In that playful game of deception, Macaya found himself with tremendous acting opportunities from Netflix. To this point, he’s participated in one movie and two series. His most recent work was for the “Baby Bandito” series, where he played Pantera.

For “Baby Bandito,” he began the initial casting process by understanding Pantera’s character. Macaya described him as a man who carries a substantial load of violence—one that’s not precisely notorious for the audience at the beginning. He carries it in silence.

“When I did the casting, I had to do two scenes with my son. So, I tried for that [violence] to be there. There was a normal dialogue, but it had to be a bit violent. A contained violence. A distrust with the other character. A suspicion. A distance,” Macaya said. “I thought. The first thing about this character is that he does not trust anyone. Not even his shadow. So, I started from there.”

Macaya had to find Pantera’s complexities to portray that hidden violence and distrust. Before the series, he considered Pantera, a person who didn’t live. He survived. And in the most clandestine manner possible. He was invisible.

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Pablo Macaya as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photos by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

In that invisibility, Macaya questioned why Pantera joined an improvised criminal gang that clearly had no experience in committing crimes.

“When Kevin appears, proposes this plan, and Pantera joins, my conversation was: why did he join them? Why does he join such an improvised plan? So badly done with people who have no experience. I’m supposed to be a professional in this, and they’re cabros [children],” Macaya said. “However, there’s the motive we know about at the end of the series. The relationship with Kevin and [Pantera’s] great driving force is to take care of him.”

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Pablo Macaya as Pantera with Nicolás Contreras as Kevin Tapia for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photos by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

Kevin Tapia is the main character of “Baby Bandito,” which was played by Chilean actor Nicolás Contreras. The series is inspired by Chile’s “biggest heist of the century,” which happened in 2014 at the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago. Tapia was inspired by Kevin Olguín, who was one of the gang’s members who carried out the heist. The show was directed by Chilean directors Julio Jorquera, Fernando Guzzoni, and Pepa San Martín, and Diego Muñoz was the series’ head scriptwriter.

Jumping Between Reality and Fiction

That’s one of the few clear examples of how Macaya is part of projects that tend to speak from reality but add a touch of fiction to it. It’s a trend in his works, but he strives to get away from the reality aspect of it.


For Macaya, the script is his sacred book to follow, and the reflections that a series like “Baby Bandito” presents from the Chilean and Latin American realities are a result of the collaborative process that a Netflix series entails.

BabyBandito8.jpg. Pablo Macaya as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.
Pablo Macaya as Pantera for Netflix’s “Baby Bandito” series. Photo by Netflix. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

“I try to forget about the real facts from the story. That goes to the last plane. I care about the script. The script’s facts,” Macaya said. “And of course, a story like this one. One where we have the realities of injustice, violence, economic inequality, poverty, and many times a corrupt power in Latin America. It’s the curtain behind this story and many others, but I try to forget about it because that has to be the result. Not the search.”

Social reflections on Latin American realities result from combining the music, emotions, rhythms, montage, direction, and many other elements composing a television series, feature film, or theater play.

For Macaya, it’s a puzzle where he’s placing two pieces together rather than focusing on the big picture, and that’s a methodology he uses throughout his work. He also used it when playing the character of Víctor Pizarro in Netflix’s series “42 Días en la Oscuridad” (42 Days of Darkness), which was Chile’s first series for the streaming platform.


This series is inspired by another real case: the Viviana Haeger case. In 2010, Viviana Haeger disappeared in Puerto Varas in the southern part of Chile. After 42 days, her body was found in her home.


Given this background of an inhumane tragedy, working on this particular project entailed a difficult challenge for Macaya. It meant working in the production of a series that avoided the re-victimization of the people involved in the real story, especially when it’s a sensitive subject that deals with violence against women. Macaya described that element of the series as one of great importance. He mentioned that throughout the series, there’s no image of the body, a reference to the body, no blood, or autopsy.


Besides that, Macaya mentioned that when filming, they were close to the real place where things happened. The family was close by, and it was known what the production team was doing.

“It is delicate. It’s a sensitive subject. Difficult. It’s not easy to get into this. It’s not easy avoiding it. That’s the challenge. We’re going to do something that’s very sensitive. Something that can be painful for the real people involved, but we have to do it right,” Macaya said. “Precisely because of the delicacy and elegance of touching several raw subjects [it worked]. I think the challenge of getting into difficult subjects worked. It’s about doing difficult things. Not easy ones.”

42Días3.jpg. Pablo Macaya as Víctor Pizarro for Netflix’s “42 Días en la Oscuridad” series. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.
Pablo Macaya as Víctor Pizarro for Netflix’s “42 Días en la Oscuridad” series. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

With that in mind, Macaya took on the challenge of playing Víctor Pizarro during a time when he was coming back to acting. A time he felt he was very far away from his craft and thought he’d given up on it forever. That comeback in acting meant challenging himself but also dealing with harsh weather conditions when filming “42 Días en la Oscuridad.”


Nature plays a key role in the series. While filming, he was faced with constant rain, cold, and wind. Macaya explained that those extreme weather conditions helped him dive deep into his character.

42Días.jpg. Pablo Macaya as Víctor Pizarro for Netflix’s “42 Días en la Oscuridad” series. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.
Pablo Macaya as Víctor Pizarro for Netflix’s “42 Días en la Oscuridad” series. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

“It’s this guy obsessed with wanting to solve the case. The main thing about this character, besides solving the case and being the star as a lawyer, is that he was in a fight to vindicate himself. To get back his sense of dignity,” Macaya said. “I think that’s his great driving force. He wants to get back that place he thinks he has on a social scale from which he has fallen.”

To portray the ongoing struggle that Víctor Pizarro faces throughout the series, Macaya mentioned that the extreme weather conditions helped him. His coat was wet, and the car he drove did not work well. The difficulties helped him create a character fighting against everything and wanting to get his life back.


In those difficulties, Macaya also found Víctor Pizarro’s complexities.

“His great fear is failing. The great fear of not being taken into account. He’s afraid of not making it and not achieving it. I think that throughout the case, there’s no truth at the end,” Macaya said. “I like that a lot because it leaves Víctor’s character unresolved. It’s resolved with his son, somehow. His intimate and personal trip. There’s a light, but the lawyer stays in the same place he started. I find that interesting.”

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Pablo Macaya as Víctor Pizarro for Netflix’s “42 Días en la Oscuridad” series. Photos by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

Even if his character does not achieve a resolution, he seeks to convince the audience by exploring reality and fiction. In that exploration, he’s always working towards creating a character and scenario that feels natural, not forced. That is portrayed in how he plays with his sincerity, moves, behaves, and manipulates objects.

“To be convincing, you must be connected with your guatas [stomach]. With your gut. Feelings are not in your heart. I think they’re in your stomach. You can’t have that blocked. You have to be open,” Macaya said.

That openness also implies being able to perform any character he’s presented with, whether it’s a main character or a secondary one. It also means being able to perform in a feature film, series, or theater play that creates a feeling of nostalgia and hope or one that reflects on social issues.

Playing with a Dreamlike “Ardiente Paciencia”

Macaya is a versatile actor that can go from serious and painful works to happy and joyous ones, as is the case in his participation in Netflix's film “Ardiente Paciencia” (Burning Patience), which was the streaming platform’s first Chilean feature film. The piece is an adaptation of Antonio Skármeta’s novel “Ardiente Paciencia.” It’s the love story about a young woman (Beatriz) and a young man (Mario) who fall in love through poetry verses.


Macaya plays the character of Jorge, who is Mario’s father. Once he was told about the film, Macaya was immediately interested in participating in the project because of what “Ardiente Paciencia” means to him.

“When I was very young, right before studying acting, there was a theater version of Ardiente Paciencia that was very successful. I saw it when I was 15 or 16 years old, and it was very powerful,” Macaya said. “I think that was one of the factors that made me devote myself to this craft. Watching that play. When I was told about [participating] in Ardiente Paciencia, a new version, I said yes. I want that.”

It didn’t matter what character he was going to play. He wanted to be part of it because of his personal connection with “Ardiente Paciencia.” Even though this feature film doesn’t really draw from reality as “Baby Bandito” and “42 Días en la Oscuridad” did, it does focus on showcasing Pablo Neruda. Neruda was an internationally renowned Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.

 ArdientePaciencia.jpg. Pablo Macaya as Jorge with Andrew Bargsted as his son Mario for Netflix’s “Ardiente Paciencia” feature film. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.]
Pablo Macaya as Jorge with Andrew Bargsted as his son Mario for Netflix’s “Ardiente Paciencia” feature film. Photo by Netflix. Fabula Production House. Courtesy of Agencia La Luz.

That specific detail was significant for Macaya when working on the project because it meant visiting places where Neruda once transited.

“It was very nice. The house where we filmed – my house in the movie – is the fisher’s real house. His family’s house. It’s the house of Neruda’s friend. Where Neruda bought seafood and fish. It’s the exact same place,” Macaya said. “That was of great help. Being on the same beach. The same place. Older people would tell me they’d remember about him. All of that nurtures you. Those are the same trees from when Neruda was there. It was priceless.”

Being immersed in the same place that Neruda moved was a source of joy and help for Macaya’s acting, but the film also entailed a different challenge. Since it’s about poetry, Macaya needed to portray a dreamlike vibe and magical spirit. He described it as a very poetic film with its images in which a young couple falls in love through verses, something he thought of as difficult while he laughed explaining.


It also meant exploring a different side of Chile.

“I don’t know if it’s transmitted, but for us Chileans, it has a lot to do with a time that was left behind. All this history before the coup d’etat. All this Chile before September 11, 1973, which is a world that’s gone. That was over,” Macaya said. “A Chile that doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not speaking only about material things. I’m speaking about an era that died violently. So, [the film] had a great nostalgic load.”

With that historical background, Macaya explained that the director’s call was to create a film about love. One where everyone involved in the movie knows how the tragic Chilean period in history ended, but he wanted to create a special film.

“The idea of the director was to center on moments of light. A moment of love. The sun. The clarity. The beach. The ocean. The poetry. The community. The family. Life [itself],” Macaya said. “I think it was an exercise of nostalgia.”

It was an exercise of nostalgia, and playing was one of Macaya's main sources of joy. He was part of a project that delved into creating a reality that doesn’t exist or a nostalgia that idealizes old times.

“Let’s play with that. For example, there’s a shot that was key for me. I hope it worked. I’m caressing a hen. What is this joke about? Nothing. Does it bring anything to the story in the development of the facts? No. Nothing, but it’s valuable. A hen instead of a cat or dog,” Macaya said. “There’s a dreamlike thing. It makes a lot of sense to have an image of my character caressing a hen while we listen to the verses.”

ArdientePaciencia2.png. Frame of Pablo Macaya as Jorge caressing a hen for Netflix’s “Ardiente Paciencia” feature film. Via Netflix.
Frame of Pablo Macaya as Jorge caressing a hen for Netflix’s “Ardiente Paciencia” feature film. Via Netflix.

It's part of a story that creates a dreamlike environment where Macaya contributes with his playful acting. He’s part of a collaborative project that’s creating a spirit, a sensation, and a memory of that specific era. A feeling but not a reality.


That feeling comes through Macaya’s playful art of acting that explores reality and fiction. It’s a performative art that he enjoys as a game of deception to convince the audience to believe that what they’re watching is real. It’s an artistic discipline watched by millions of people worldwide through Netflix, generating a sense of satisfaction, gratitude, and freedom for him. It’s also a reflection of the complexities that Macaya has experienced in his life.

“I find life to be very complex. Living. Learning to live, grasping life or its purpose in the lives of each one of us. I think this craft is a great tool for that. When you’re an actor, you’re very vulnerable. You’re more exposed,” Macaya said. “Especially on stage. There’s no place to be more vulnerable than a stage. Your only escape route as an actor is the truth, sincerity, and honesty in this effort to convince an audience. You’re obliged to know yourself really well and not lie to yourself.”

Visit Agencia La Luz's website to keep up with Pablo Macaya’s playful acting, which explores reality and fiction.


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