09 March, 2011

Franco's 80s actors: FLAVIA HERVÁS

Jess Franco was one filmmaker who would use whatever elements or persons were available to him at the moment, making it unsurprising that he should give roles to set technicians – or as in the case of the child actress Flavia Hervás , to the daughter of his lead actor / production manager, Antonio Mayans, and the director’s regular make-up artist, Juana de la Morena.

Antonio Mayans had the habit of taking along his whole family along for shoots, meaning that his three daughters were regularly around on set, as was the dog. Eventually, the daughters were themselves given various assignments, whether it be acting roles or, as in the case of the oldest of the three, Regina Mayans, the job of assistant director in Jungle of Fear (1993, unfinished).

Of the three sisters, the youngest, Flavia Mayans de la Morena was the most conspicuous. Billed in films as Flavia Hervás (after Antonio Mayans’s mother), she was born in Cantabria c. 1977 and appears to have made her debut in Camino Solitario (1983), playing the daughter of her real-life father, a role she essayed again in Sola ante el terror (also 1983). The presence of the three girls gave Franco the idea of making children’s films, such as En busca del dragon dorado (1983), starring Flavia alongside her sister Ivana, both of whom could also be seen in uncredited roles during the titles of ¿Cuánto cobra un espía? (1984). Franco, most audaciously, even entertained the idea of using the sisters in a musical!

Flavia Hervás’s career ended soon, at the age of seven, due to her parents’ concern about her missing classes at school. She disappeared from Franco’s universe until she had turned 19, when she was offered the female lead, named Flavia, in the film that was eventually to be titled Killer Barbys (1996). Unsure of her acting abilities and unwilling to do nude scenes, she turned down the offer, and the project finally became a vehicle for the Killer Barbies rock band. Hervás’s return to acting came about in Ángel Mora Aragón’s shot-on-video The Snuff Game (2000), with Antonio Mayans in the cast, playing a seedy drunkard, and Hervás as the woman being stalked by the lonely murderer that is the film’s central character. Both father and daughter were obviously being iconically cast, even if the bearded, graying Mayans and, more especially, Flavia Hervás, now in her early twenties, were a far cry from what they looked like in the early eighties. That same year, as Flavia Mayans, she also appeared in an episode of the slob TV sitcom Manos a la obra, in the very brief role of a hooker.

On discovering she didn’t like acting, she took to other show business concerns, emerging as a lighting technician for the stage. In 2010, she and José Mora were nominated for a Max Award (the Spanish equivalent to the Tony) for their lighting design of the play Sueño Lorca o El sueño de las manzanas, a theatre production written and directed by María Caudevilla.

Poster of En busca del dragón dorado. Flavia Hervás is the girl wearing overalls.

Flavia Hervás in The Snuff Game

Flavia Hervás in the TV sitcom Manos a la obra

Production of the play Sueño Lorca o el sueño de las manzanas, lighting by José Mora and Flavia Hervás.

(Most information has been drawn from the interviews with Antonio Mayans and Flavia Hervás conducted by Ferrán Herranz and Fracesco Cesari and included in the book Il caso Jesús Franco, 2010, edited by Cesari).

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen

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