One of cinema’s newest faces, Peter Lanzini, has taken on his first major film role, starring as the eldest son of the notorious Puccio family in must-see The Clan (El Clan). This latest from legendary Argentine director Pablo Trapero is based on a true story that rocked Argentina in the 1980s, during the country’s transition from military rule to democracy.

This period of political and economic instability is the backdrop to a series of turbulent events that occurred in one middle-class neighbourhood in the North of Buenos Aires. The Puccios, an apparently normal Argentine family, harboured a sinister secret: they kidnapped wealthy people, held the victims for ransom, and, once paid, killed them. Patriarch Arquimedes (played by The Secret in Their Eyes’ Guillermo Francella) presides over the operation with his sons Alejandro and Alex, while his wife and daughters choose to ignore what is happening right under their noses. Trapero’s film reveals the atrocities human nature is capable of committing; the shocking lengths we go to in order to protect ourselves and our families.

Home-grown talent Lanzini has been a national name for almost a decade, an impressive feat considering he’s only in his mid-twenties. He launched his career as a model, actor and singer in 2006, and went on to star on the small-screen in much lovedteen drama, Casi ángeles (Almost Angels) from 2007-2010. Lanzini spoke to us about his experiences making this box-office sensation that deals with such an important historic moment in Argentina’s recent history.

What was like it like to work with Pablo Trapero?

Fantastic! Pablo is an amazingly talented director. His way of directing is so dynamic; there’s this contagious energy about him – it’s impossible not to share his passion for making films. I learnt loads, and it was an unforgettable and enjoyable experience.

And had you worked with Guillermo Francella previously?

I hadn’t worked with him before, no. But I had worked with his son, Nicolás, on previous occasions, so I had met Guillermo before. But during the making of The Clan, at the beginning of this year, I had the opportunity to act alongside him and see that he’s not only is he a great person but a truly great actor.

Did you know the story of the Puccio family?

Yes, I knew all about it. Trying to convey the layers of familial tension, to generate that intense atmosphere, was extremely challenging. But it was an honor to be able to act in this film portraying the character of Alex. I hope I did the role justice and managed to tell the story as realistically as possible.

How did you prepare for the role?

Both the cast and crew did their research! In 2007 Pablo started a fairly intense process of investigation: meeting up with those involved, talking to people that knew the family, reading archives, news, judiciary reports and looking for any information he could get his hands on about the case. The actors were also encouraged to get involved in this process. I read around the character, conducted interviews with people that were close to him, and then tried to piece together this information, define the character – specifically working on the complex father-son relationship that serves as Alex’s motivation throughout the film, driving him to the most extreme lengths.

The Clan has been an unprecedented success in Argentina, even breaking the opening weekend ticket-sales record set earlier last year by Damián Szifrón’s Wild Tales. What did you make of this reception?

I mean, it’s incredible! Millions of people went to see the film and many have said they liked it. It’s a huge success, nationally and internationally – it was extremely popular at the Venice Film festival. And so I only hope that everyone else that goes to see it likes it too!

If you missed last night’s screening of The Clan, catch the film again tomorrow at the Cine Roxy 1, at 2pm and at 7pm.

By Gill Harris