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Rebecca Da Costa: Lovely Leading Lady

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The gorgeous and gregarious actress lends a mysterious flair as the female lead alongside heavy hitters John Cusack and Robert De Niro in “The Bag Man,” a modern day film noir shot in New Orleans.
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It’s not every day that a relative newcomer to the world of acting nabs the female lead in company with film stalwarts John Cusack and Robert De Niro, but that’s exactly the kind of fabulous life actress Rebecca Da Costa is living — thanks to her impressive acting ingenuity. In the action crime thriller with a noir-ish bent “The Bag Man,” shot in New Orleans and released in theaters on Feb. 28, Da Costa plays a mysterious femme fatale who comes across a hit man (Cusack) hired by a mob boss (De Niro) to retrieve and then deliver a peculiar “bag” at a seedy backwater hotel in the Delta Bayous. Da Costa and Cusack form a partnership in order to get through some murderous mayhem surrounding the bag and escape De Niro’s domination, and the exquisite Brazilian beauty couldn’t have been more thrilled to nab the part.

“When I first got the phone call saying that I got the part and John Cusack’s going to play the lead opposite me, I almost had a heart attack,” Da Costa says. “I always have been such a big fan of him. Later on we found out De Niro was playing a part as well, and I was like, ‘Oh my God — I can’t breathe!’ The first thing you think is I can’t do it — these people are legends. And they couldn’t be nicer or more giving. I was very impressed. They really pushed me to be the best I could be. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist working with them.”

Da Costa says filming in New Orleans was amazing and intense. “It was a night shoot, so we shot every day from 6pm to 6am for two months, and it was very hard after that for my body to go back to normal. We shot in the swamp — three times we encountered alligators coming in the middle of the scene, and we saw a snake once — really crazy! But it was really cool and fun. We filmed in May and June of last year, and it was very hot with a lot of mosquitoes as well; I come from Brazil but they are much bigger in New Orleans!”

The Crescent City certainly left an impression on Da Costa’s heart. “Oh, I loved New Orleans,” she exclaims. “Every weekend, John and I, and the directors and producers, would all try to have dinner together. We went to some jazz shows, and we enjoyed as much as we could because we were working a lot. And the French Quarter was beautiful. I come from Recife in the northeast of Brazil, and I felt a lot like I was home in New Orleans. The people remind me of Brazilians; they have a lot of passion for music and food, and they’re happy and warm and dancing. I’ve lived everywhere; I lived in Europe for seven years, and New Orleans most reminded me of home. Also, the food is flavored with lots of spices, which I love; that’s how we eat at home. New Orleans was a blast!”

For years, Da Costa has been a successful model — strutting on the runways for designers such as Saint Laurent and Escada, and landing amazing campaigns such as Chopard and Swarovski — but she is now strictly focusing on her acting. And she has another film being released this summer.

In “Breaking at the Edge” Da Costa plays a bipolar woman who is pregnant and fears for the life of her unborn child if she doesn’t avenge a supernatural entity. “Yeah, it sounds crazy, right?” Da Costa laughs. “It sounds insane, but it was an amazing experience. We shot in Savannah, [Ga.,] for two months, and I play the lead with Milo Ventimiglia, Andie MacDowell and Louis Gossett, Jr. It’s a very different role than the one I play in ‘The Bag Man’ — that character is very witty, sharp [and] has a great sense of humor. I did all my own stunts, and she’s very kick-ass and cool, [while] the character in ‘Breaking at the Edge’ is pregnant and is very sensitive, and she stops taking her medication, so she becomes kind of schizophrenic. So the two roles couldn’t be more different from each other. I feel very blessed for this work.”

Da Costa’s first lead role was in the indie film “L.A. I Hate You.” Her credits also include a bit on HBO’s “Entourage,” and she stars in lead roles in “Free Runner,” “Mine Games” and “7 Below” with Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames. When she’s not filming, Da Costa stays busy living a well-balanced, happy life. “I love to eat,” she says. “In Brazil people eat meat three times a day, and I also love vegetables and salad. I cook beans, meat and usually brown rice, to make it a bit healthier, pretty much every day. I don’t skip meals, and I know some doctors say you have to eat every three hours but eating every four hours works for me. I don’t like to snack. And I love sports, so I play volleyball in Santa Monica or Malibu or I go to the gym three times a week. And transcendental meditation helps me a lot. It’s the most researched meditation out there, and it really helps with the immune system, depression and stress. It helps me to stay focused and calm. It’s just unbelievable, so I try to do it twice a day for only 20 minutes. It’s very easy and anyone can do it. It has been a gift to me.”

As a native of Recife, Da Costa attended the Rui Barbosa School where she developed her passion for theater, directing, writing and starring in a number of high school plays. “I have always loved writing, even just putting my thoughts on paper,” she says. “If I ever have a problem, I write it down; once I read it, things seem more clear to me. And I want to write fiction. I’m writing a book about a girl who leaves Brazil to move to New York. I’m writing a short script too. I start writing many things but never finish — this is a typical Gemini quality! I hope to finish something one day and maybe even do a movie that I wrote. That would be a dream come true.”