Family & Companions
A sultry and sensuous brunette, Sonia Braga began her career in her native Brazil as a teenager and made her stage debut at 17. From the late 1960s, she began to amass an impressive body of work, including appearances in several soap opera-like miniseries (telenovelas). Braga became an international sex symbol as a woman torn between her living spouse and the ghost of her dead one in Bruno Barreto's "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands" (1977). She and Barreto reunited in 1983 for a film version of one of her most famous TV roles, "Gabriela."
With her growing popularity it wasn't long before American producers came calling and Braga made her English-language debut playing three roles in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1985), a superb adaptation of Manuel Puig's novel. In the motion picture, the sultry performer was cast as Raul Julia's girlfriend Marta, a chanteuse, and the mysterious titular character. While co-star William Hurt reaped all the glory (including an Oscar), Braga anchored the film with her enigmatic persona. Her cachet in the USA was solidified by two 1986 guest appearances on the NBC sitcom "The Cosby Show" playing a math teacher recalled by Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) as a dour "Dragon Lady." (Of course, she's anything but!) Braga further demonstrated her comic gifts as the mistress of a dead Latin American dictator who coaches an impostor being groomed to replace him in the Paul Mazursky-directed "Moon Over Parador" (1988). That year, she also portrayed the temperamental garage owner fighting development in a small New Mexico town in "The Milagro Beanfield War." Braga and frequent co-star Raul Julia were teamed as German criminals in the Clint Eastwood vehicle "The Rookie" (1990) but the pair fared much better in the HBO biopic "The Burning Season" (1994).
Having spent more than a decade appearing in English-language features and TV projects, Braga returned to her native land to produce and star in "Tieta do Agreste/Tieta" (1996), based on a novel by Jorge Amado (as was "Dona Flor") and directed by the great Carlos Diegues. In one of those ironic moments, the film's plot mirror reality as Braga was cast as a wealthy, mature but still sexy woman returning to Brazil after years of living abroad. Securing the film rights, the actress had to wait several years to see the project to fruition, in part because of a small screen adaptation. For her, though, it was worth the wait, as Braga delivered a superb leading performance.
Although she unsuccessfully attempted to find success on American TV as co-star with Ann-Margret in the short-lived CBS serial "Four Corners" (1998), Braga has continued to find show parts in the USA. She was arguably well-cast as the sexy queen of the undead in the direct-to-video "From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter" (2000) and made impressions as Jennifer Lopez's mother in "Angel Eyes" (2001), the loyal wife of a jurist accused of murder in "Steve Martini's The Judge" (NBC, 2001), and the lesbian lover of Kim Cattrall's sexually voracious Samantha Jones on HBO's "Sex and the City" in a handful of 2001 episodes.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Stage debut in Moliere's "Jorge Dandin" (date approximate)
Film debut, "O bandido da luz vermelha" Sailboat"
Appeared in a Brazilian stage version of "Hair"
First major film role, "A Moreninha"
Earned international attention as the lead in the Bruno Barreto directed "Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos/Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands"
Reunited with Barreto for "Gabriela," reprising the role she had made famous on Brazilian TV
English-language debut, "Kiss of the Spider Woman," playing several characters including the iconic titular Spider Woman; first film with Raul Julia (film re-released in 2001)
Made two appearances on "The Cosby Show" (NBC), playing Cliff's math teacher, Mrs. Westlake
Acted in the HBO drama "The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains"
Co-starred in "The Milagro Beanfield War," directed by Robert Redford, and "Moon Over Parador," co-starring Raul Julia
Had title role in the Lifetime movie "The Last Prostitute," playing a legendary lady of the evening who retired to raise horses
Reteamed with Raul Julia, her "Spider Woman" co-star, in the HBO fact-based drama "The Burning Season"
Acted alongside Edward James Olmos in "Roosters"
Debut as producer, "Tieta/Tieta do Agreste"; also played title role of a wealthy widow who revisits her poor roots (released theatrically in the USA in 1998)
Co-starred with Ann-Margret in the midseason CBS drama series "Homestead"
Had featured role in the NBC miniseries "A Will of Their Own"
Cast as the Queen of the Vampires in the sequel "From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter"
Made appearance as a woman who becomes romantically involved with Samantha (Kim Cattrall) in HBO's "Sex and the City"
Acted alongside long-time pal Chris Noth in the NBC miniseries "Steve Martini's The Judge"
Was featured in the ensemble cast of "Perfume"; screened at Sundance
Played Berta Gonzalez in the PBS series, "American Family"
Appeared in five episodes of the ABC spy series, "Alias"
Co-starred with Jennifer Lopez in "Bordertown"
Co-starred in Ethan Hawke's adaptation of his own novel, "The Hottest State"
Cast opposite Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez in "Bordertown"