'The Chosen One' star Renan Tenca believes his character and Aguazul represent the white man and colonialism
Like most godmen, The Chosen One, too, generates violence when he’s afraid of what’s unknown, using cruelty as a way of overwhelming his fragile self-esteem.
One of Netflix’s most suspense-filled productions, ‘The Chosen One’ narrates the story of a godman, who has an entire village following him even as he keeps them immortal – until the day the said villager chooses to leave the mortal world. The show took us through many twists and turns that made us question our own narratives regarding modern medicine and faith.
Despite his questionable demands and oftentimes violent methods, he is worshipped by quite a few people and whether he has said powers or not, the fact that he has people eating out of his hands and the authority to decide how people live their lives make him powerful.
As Renan Tenca, who plays the role of the Chosen One in the Netflix show, puts it, “Even if we end up finding out that he really has special abilities, the methods the Chosen One uses to control the village still remain abusive... It’s kind of both things at the same time: I’m able to trust his magical powers and at the same time stay cynical about the way he deals with power in the community. In Aguazul village, faith and submission are side-by-side.”
The challenge is to create a spiritual leader who can be persuasive and gentle but also violent at the same time, he explains, further adding that the Chosen One is a representation of the “white guy”. “I believe that Aguazul and the Chosen One are somehow a metaphor for the way power has been perpetuated over centuries by colonizers. This is because the Chosen One is an isolated man whose values were constructed among walls: the borders of Aguazul and the walls of his self-centered subjectivity. His references are all based on his own image and the way he perceives the world, his wishes, beliefs, and obsessions,” he elaborates, adding that even if he’s been commanded by a god, it is a pretty aggressive one.
He, like most godmen, generates violence when he’s afraid of what’s unknown, using cruelty as a way of overwhelming his fragile self-esteem. What is interesting about the story in itself is that the Chosen One would be nothing if not for the people who follow him. He explains how it is shocking to see faith being used as an instrument of suppression instead of freedom.
“I suppose that, in terms of thriller, the audiences are invited to feel frightened of these villagers whose vital decisions are in the hands of one single man who attacks what’s different in order to keep control of what he already knows - and owns,” he says.
The series, which is inspired by the Mexican series ‘Niño Santo,’ shows the Chosen One as somewhat of an androgynous being with delicate gestures. Niño Fidencio, the famous Mexican healer on whom ‘Niño Santo’ is based, was known for these characteristics as well.
“Being a white actor playing the role of an authoritarian leader in Brazil, where our colonial and racist history is still deeply present, made me question how to represent violence,” says Tenca, adding how he chose to pursue a personality for him in which people would tend to believe.
"We later see what’s behind the charisma (this cannot be put in the back of Niño Fidencio, of course: these are traces from our fictional script). So, I believe that my individuality in the Brazilian version appears when the character sounds like a fragile, frightened and maybe pathetic leader, stuck in his limited and self-centered subjectivity,” he elaborates.
It is in this state of vulnerability and fright that we leave him in the season 1 finale, and it remains to be seen if Netflix will give this series a chance to show this character and the story to fully flourish.