From the best breakfast in Lisbon to its most exciting neighbourhoods, award-winning actress Beatriz Batarda tells us about her favourite haunts in the Portuguese capital
The British-born Portuguese actress Beatriz Batarda was named as one of the Shooting Stars of European film in 1998. Since then, her rise has been swift. She has received numerous awards for her performances in films including Quaresma and Noite Escura, and starred alongside some of Europe’s acting royalty on stage and screen. Beatriz shares her impressions of Lisbon, her advice for visitors and her ideal day in the city where she grew up.
It’s been reported that as a child, you didn’t want to be an actress. What did you want to be?
I remember when I was six years old I wanted to be a trapeze artist and work in a circus! I was crazy for James Stewart, who starred alongside Charlton Heston in The Greatest Show on Earth.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently on stage at the Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II in Lisbon, starring in Teatro, a meta-theatrical play by the French playwright Pascal Rambert. Next year, I’ll be preparing and performing in my company’s new show, Arena Ensemble, and then filming a feature film on migration movements and despair in Great Yarmouth with Marco Martins. You can catch me in a new eight-part television series on RTP called Sara – I play the title role. It’s an amazing project and it’s been an incredible experience.
You’ve worked alongside some giants of the stage and screen, like Jeremy Irons and Christopher Lee, but who inspired the young Beatriz Batarda to train as an actress?
Funnily enough, Jeremy Irons played a really important role in how I learned the English ‘sound’, which then helped my acting. I was given an audiobook of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, which was narrated by Jeremy.
If a friend were visiting Lisbon for the first time, where would you take them?
I would take them to visit the emblematic neighbourhoods of Alfama, Bairro Alto, Mouraria, Castelo and Chiado. And always by foot.
What do you think people outside Portugal get wrong about Lisboans?
I guess we are perceived to be people that complain about the country malfunctioning, but the reality is that we are educated people with little economic power. I also think it’s fair to say that Lisboans are very respectful of others.
How would you spend an ideal day in Lisbon?
I’d start with breakfast at Esplanada Principe Real, then continue with a walk to Jardim Botânico to find a spot to read or draw. I’d then head to the district of Bairro Alto for fresh fish at Cantinho do Bem Estar. I’d spend the evening at the opera at Teatro Nacional São Carlos and have dinner at the two Michelin-starred Belcanto restaurant.
Do you have any Lisbon insider secrets you’d care to share with us?
Yes, try coming during the Santo António festivities – it’s great fun.