He may not be well known in America, but in his native Brazil, Wagner Moura was a bona-fide star. His early roles (1999's "Radio Gogo," 2000's "Woman on Top") proved brief, but his performance as a prisoner in 2003's "Carandiru" was full of brooding promise. He landed a lead role on a popular Brazilian telenovela and continued performing on stage until landing a trifecta of career-defining roles in 2007: first as a vicious police captain in the critically-acclaimed "Elite Squad;" then as a villainous entrepreneur on the telenovela "Paradiso Tropical" (Rede Globo), and finally as the tortured title Dane in an experimental production of "Hamlet." After reprising his role as Lt. Colonel Nascimento in 2010's "Elite Squad: Enemy Within," Moura, now a father of two, broke through to American audiences as the mysterious Spider in the blockbuster "Elysium" (2013). Just as fascinating as the characters he played - he fronted the Brazilian rock band His Mother and practiced jiu-jitsu - Wagner Moura was full of surprises.
Moura grew up in the capital of Bahia, a populous state on Brazil's eastern side. His father Jose served in the Brazilian Air Force, while his mother Alderiva owned and operated a photo restoration company. Initially drawn to acting as a way to impress girls, Moura acted in local plays with friends until he enrolled as a journalism student at the Federal University of Bahia. When the trio reunited in a local production of "The Machine," Moura ditched a life of reporting crime for a life of portraying it. After minor roles in the short film "Radio Gogo" and the sex comedy "Woman on Top," Moura was cast as a petty thief in the brutal "Carandiru." Based on the real-life events that led the infamous 1992 prison massacre, the movie showcased Moura's ability to transform himself. His next major role, the vengeful heir Gustavo Bogari, on the popular telenovela "A Lua me Disse" (Rede Globo, 2005- ) proved another showcase for his dramatic talents.
Brazilian cinema had a rich history of exploring the country's many economic and political problems, and 2007's award-winning "Elite Squad" was no exception. A tense thriller centered on rampant police corruption in impoverished favelas, "Elite Squad" was an international success and Moura won numerous awards for his explosive portrayal of the violent Captain Roberto Nascimento. He returned to the theater shortly after to tackle Hamlet, the ultimate brooder, in a stripped-down production that saw the actors performing and simultaneously videotaping themselves with handheld video cameras. After regrouping his long-dormant band His Mother, in which he sang and occasionally wrote lyrics, Moura signed on to play Nascimento again in the sequel "Elite Squad: Enemy Within," which grossed more than 108 million dollars in Brazil's native currency. In 2013 he made his Hollywood debut opposite Matt Damon as the criminally enterprising Spider in the sci-fi blockbuster "Elysium."
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Made film debut in "Radio Gogo"
Cast in "Carandiru"
Landed a role on the telenova "A Lua me Disse"
Played a police captain in "Elite Squad"
Featured on "Paradiso Tropical"
Cast in "Elite Squad: Enemy Within"
Appeared opposite Matt Damon in "Elysium"