Q&A: Gloria Trevi Warms Up to Unflinching Biopic on Her Tumultuous Life

Gerry Hanan/Getty Images for SXSW
Gloria Trevi speaks at 'A Conversation with Gloria Trevi' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 17, 2015 in Austin, Texas. 

“I’m like a tragicomedy; I make people laugh and cry,” Trevi tells Billboard.

Just a few months ago, Mexican star Gloria Trevi was less than thrilled with the prospect of the upcoming biopic based on her life.

"I did not want to be part of it, especially when they were asking people like my ex-manager about my life," Trevi told Billboard.

But after watching the film Gloria, Trevi is speaking in support of the movie, which will be widely released in the U.S. in June 5 by Picturehouse (Y Tu Mamá También, Pan's Labryinth, My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Trevi sat down for a Q&A with Billboard at SXSW March 17, prior to the first screening of the film in the U.S.

"I watched the movie at my fans' suggestion," she admitted. "It's not easy to see your life reflected, and I personally had to understand that it's not a documentary, but a film with dramatic license. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me get angry. It was hard to watch, but even with all the dramatic license it took, it's a film with a positive message."

Directed by Christian Keller, from a screenplay by Sabina Berman (Backyard, Pancho Villa, Naked Woman), Gloria is far from a light, sugarcoated biopic. Instead, it takes an unsparing look at Trevi's rise to stardom, chronicling the abusive behavior she suffered under her former manager -- known as a Svengali-esque manipulator -- and the events that would land her in a Brazilian prison for several years and, finally, how she was able to leave the relationship an reclaim her life. 

Gloria also convincingly shows the emergence of a brilliant, provocative star and incisive songwriter who electrified audiences of all sizes. The performance scenes, painstakingly recreated -- down to replicating Trevi's finely tuned choreography and bursts of improvisation -- and with excellent singing from star Sofia Espinosa, bring to life Trevi's remarkable onstage prowess and remind us why she became known as the "Mexican Madonna."

"It's hard to play me," said Trevi with wry humor. "I'm like a tragicomedy; I make people laugh and cry."

In an early scene, Trevi is shown in her TV debut, singing live for Siempre en Domingo, the variety show that made and broke careers in Mexico. After her performance, she was banned from Televisa for showing her underwear.

"Yeah, many things [in the movie] brought memories," she said wistfully. "I remembered how excited I was to sing on TV and how painful it was to learn I was going to be banned because my panties showed! But I was a rebel and I said, 'If you guys want, I'll take off the panties so you can't see them, but I won't comb my hair!' (Referencing her hit "Pelo Suelto," or "Loose Hair").

Known in her heyday for her torn clothing, wild hair and provocative shows and lyrics (one of her famous hits is called "Mas turbada que nunca," which can be translated to "More Bothered Than Ever" or "More Masturbated Than Ever"), Trevi became the top-selling female star in Latin America in the 1990s.

After her fall from grace and stint in jail, charges were eventually dropped and she resumed her career. Today, Trevi continues to be a star, and though her hair is still long and loose, it's far more coiffed. In February, she sold out four dates in Mexico City's Auditorio Nacional; she has her own reality show, her last album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart, and is currently working on a new studio album with producer Humberto Gattica.

Trevi noted that she's also supporting the film because she got the rights to her life story back for future projects.

"The rights to my life belong to my children, and I'm thankful to get them back," she said. But, she stressed, "This film has a message that's worth sharing, and that's why I'm here today."