Being Picasso’s Mother: A Conversation with Maria Jose Bavio for National Geographic’s Anthology Series GENIUS PICASSO | The Fan Carpet

Being Picasso’s Mother: A Conversation with Maria Jose Bavio for National Geographic’s Anthology Series GENIUS PICASSO

25 April 2018

(Main Photo credit: Nikki Leigh Scott)

Pablo Picasso confronts the threat of fascism in Spain, and Young Pablo rejects traditional painting to search for his own voice.

Of Argentine and South African descent, Maria Jose Bavio stars alongside Antonio Banderas, Alex Rich, Robert Sheehan, Aisling Franciosi, T. R. Knight, Sebastian Roché and Seth Gabel in the second season of the critically acclaimed National Geographic series. With Maria now residing in London I took the opportunity to catch up with: Maria Jose Bavio.

With the new Genius Picasso anthology scheduled to premiere later this month The Fan Carpet’s Melanie Radloff caught up with actress Maria Jose Bavio, who plays Picasso’s mother in the period drama...


Tell us about your role in the new Genius Picasso series.

I play Maria Picasso Lopez, who is Picasso’s mother. It’s a small role, I’m in four episodes. But she is a very strong character and pivotal in Picasso’s life. She is the steering force behind him. She was his number one fan. She is this constant presence in his life, whether you see her on screen or not.


What was the most memorable moment?

I would say the birthing scene. Trying to remain grounded in the presence of 30 men on set, staring at my spread legs, rehearsing the birth. What really helped, when I was trying to take all of that in, I had Kathy (Kathy Herndl, 2nd camerawoman on set). She introduced herself and handed me my lifeline by saying “I’ve got you!”. She really made me feel that I wasn’t alone. Although I was in the most vulnerable state, exposing myself, physically and emotionally, she was my support system. Oh and what was really amazing about this was that I gave birth in the house Picasso was actually born in. Right underneath the room where his birth took place. You could just feel the energy. That gave me chills.


Do you have any funny anecdotes from set?

I don’t know if it’s an anecdote, but after my birthing ordeal Poncho (John Pontrelli, 1st AD) came up to me asking if I needed anything and I jokingly said “Gin!” and he said he can make that happen, but I quickly added I was just kidding, I need to focus on the scene etc etc. Few days later, we’re shooting in Barcelona and I’m on set, watching from the side lines before my next scene and Poncho comes up to me and says he has a surprise for me. I close my eyes and he places something in my hands. It’s a small gin bottle. I got so overwhelmed because he remembered. It was just very moving. That was the general atmosphere on set during production. And I still have that gin bottle!





Genius Picasso had its US premiere April 20th at the Tribeca Film Festival. General audiences get to see it starting April 24th on Nat Geo, and that includes us here in the UK.

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