From Javier, a boy whose memory you brought back to me today:
Hello everyone there, and thank you for bringing back some really good memories of a whole year of my life.
My name is Iker Ortiz de Zarate -Iker Ibañez at the time, as when I worked, for the first time in cinema, with Michael Winterbottom in "Under the Sun" (lucky me, yes)- they told me to make my family name shorter, so I took my mother's one, that is Ibañez.
Some days ago, I was told about people in the UK still remembering, missing and, of course, making fun of Eldorado; and I was also told about your web. Not that I use the internet much, but today I had a really good time watching your site, remembering my time in Eldorado and seeing my colleagues pictures again.
First of all, I fully accept all the bad reviews I could get. I guess Eldorado was an enormous - unfortunately failed - project, and I was not ready to face it, specially in the difficult circumstances that surrounded the whole thing. I guess that, if I had been slightly older or better trained at the time, I could have left all the problems around us behind, to just concentrate on acting. I was not able, though. But I must say that, anyway, Eldorado was a unique opportunity to learn and to work with some great British actors who, with better scripts and, above all, in better circumstances, would have been able to give the best of themselves, as they had already done before in Theatre, TV... Even when, at the time, perhaps I was not able to realize it, I thank them all now for all I learned from them.
For those who love her, I still keep in touch with Sandra Sandri, we are best friends, though we do not meet as often as we would like. She lives in Barcelona and I live in Vitoria Gasteiz, in the Basque Country, were I was born.
After Eldorado, many things have happened, and for those who might be interested -as well as for those who want to make fun of it- I will tell you that I kept studying acting till very recent days -and, as every actor, I will continue doing it all my life long-.
I was awarded the degree of BA in Drama by the University of Kent in Canterbury. Before that, I had been trained in some centres like The Acting Studio and John Strasberg´s Studio in New York, the Franco Américain Cinéma Theâtre or the International Mime School Marcel Marceau, in Paris, or the William Layton Laboratory and the Juan Carlos Corazza´s Studio in Madrid. In the UK, I worked in Scott Ross´ "Basque Adventures", BAFTA nominated as Best School Drama 1999-2000. I don't think my acting was great, either, but at least I think - I only think, I'm not sure as I have not seen the series in a long time- that I did already manage eye-contact by the time we filmed it.
I have above all worked in Theatre in the last years -Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, The Hazardous Deeds of Two Wicked Whores, Euskabaret... and now I work as an actor as well as a teacher in Vitoria Gasteiz. Those who hated my acting at the time, don't you worry: I try to be honest in life and I have studied and worked really hard in these fourteen years, being lucky to be trained by wonderful and renowned teachers like Luis Blat, James Price or John Strasberg, before majoring in Drama (University of Kent). I was 22 by the time we did Eldorado and though, as I told you, I was not ready to give the best of me as an actor in those adverse circumstances that specially required a high standard of professionalism, I could already perform slightly better than I did, as Michael Winterbottom made me do in his "Under the Sun" six months before Julia Smith called me for an interview in London, for Eldorado.
Fifteen years now since I left Eldorado. It is a long time, though looking at your web made me feel Eldorado was just yesterday. I will be 38 next January, still learning but already trained and experienced to give something good to my students, at last, after having done bad and good works as an actor in this time.
Regarding this, in case some of you wrote to me at the time, I really appreciated each and every letter I received, and I apologize for those few ones I could never answer to.
So, to finish with it, thank you all for your sense of humour and your memories of Eldorado. You brought back to my head many things -and people- I could hardly remember, and many precious things I experienced then, which has been funny and touching, really. You even made me remember that Javier that couldn't manage eye-contact and was always hiding something. Poor boy, wasn't he? I wish he had lived a few years later, as the things have luckily changed. Or I wish he had been braver. He would have surely been happier. And, above all, I wish I had been ready to defend him as a character instead of just complaining about the bad scripts and adverse circumstances. It was all about learning for me, as Iker. But, for Javier, if I had been ready to face the challenge, he would surely be still alive!
Again, thank you all for making me spend a really funny - even hilarious - and touching evening.