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Ifit's past the hour, they might not put it on." Between these 14 words, the first that Ana Duato, transmuted into Mercedes Alcántara, utters in chapter one of 'Cuéntame' - released on September 14, 2001 - and the last, which will be broadcast on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, 413 episodes broadcast over 22 years contemplate us. The actress was 33 years old at the time. Today, 55. A lot of life invested in a project that has cannibalized his professional career, although it has also earned him a lot of money and, above all, left his character tattooed in the memory of several million viewers. On the edge of the precipice of the definitive end, and when the series faces what is probably the last controversy in its history, with some screenwriters complaining about how the actors 'climbed their beards' on a regular basis, we do a kitkat with the actress to take stock of her long 'marriage' with Merche Alcántara and look, As far as it leaves us (spoiler: little "that brings bad luck"), beyond fiction.

The first scene of 'Cuéntame', which aired its first episode on September 14, 2011.

Great series such as 'The Sopranos' or 'Six Feet Under' can boast of endings worthy of monument, those that are impossible to forget. Is something similar waiting for us in 'Tell Me How It Happened'? I can assure you that it is. It's going to be an ending as the series deserves, as the viewers who have been loyal to the Alcántaras for 22 years deserve. The finale is going to be important because in this season we talk about important things. Issues that affect us all are uncovered. The inheritance, a Pandora's box that Mercedes opens and that unleashes a conflict not only of money, but also of affections; of death... I think that if the series contributes something important, it is the idea that around the same table (and the Alcántaras often meet around a table) different positions can coexist, that when there is a conflict we all win if we are together. In that sense, someone from the team once said that 'Cuéntame' was more than just a series, that it leaves a legacy beyond entertainment. I like it. And I would go further, because I believe that 'Cuéntame' is national heritage. Because it's our story. Even if it's not always the same story, your parents don't look like the Alcántaras, nor your life resembles that of any of the protagonists. Because even though we're not a historical series, it's clear that history is one of our great characters. It is national heritage because there are the facts, the music, the sets... And those characters always have something to do with someone in your life. Did the show have to end now?No. 'Tell me' is endless. It was Televisión Española that decided to put an end to it. But I think we've ended it by closing a nice cycle. With very powerful chapters that have the essence of what these 22 years have been. Last season there are seven little gems where the whole team has given it our all, the best of us. How do you feel, Ana Duato, when Merche Alcántara leaves your side? Is it liberating in a sense? No, no, I'm going to miss her terribly. First of all, because she's a character who represents a lot of women. And he has reached a very deep level of life, with a desire to live, a thirst to learn... I'm going to miss her because she's a great woman and somehow she has the ability to tell any story. Television is a cold screen and she has managed to get through it and reach people's hearts very intensely. Of course, Mercedes is the character with the greatest plasticity in 'Cuéntame', she has changed so much in all these years... As likely as real women. I get the impression, from my own experience, when I see my mother, who is now 91 years old, that women tend to have a greater capacity, throughout their lives, to adapt to new situations, to new ways of thinking or living... I more than agree. In 'Cuéntame' there are many women like that. Like Herminia herself, a woman who goes from the rural world to the city, and looks forward, even if there are things she doesn't like. Of everything that has happened to Mercedes in these years... is there anything that you would have avoided her, any mistake that she has made and that you would have saved her? Even when she's made a mistake – as in this season, when she has the idea of having her children inherit it in life, and that brings her a lot of problems and generates a lot of emotional conflicts – Mercedes is a woman who has taken charge of her life, and that's what matters. Make a decisionIt is important, such as splitting up, or abandoning an ambitious business project, based on your own judgment. The late Tito Fernández, who was in the first team of screenwriters, always said: "This is the character who is going to evolve the most, she is going to be a pioneer for her time." And he didn't know we were going to do 413 chapters, go figure. Regarding the controversy with the screenwriters of 'Cuéntame' who have complained that the actors intervened too much in the scripts, shall we clarify the issue? How were the scripts worked on in the series? What did the actors bring to the table? I would say that there has always been a great relationship with all the writing teams... There has always been dialogue, and even when there have been conflicts it has been very interesting, because that has ended up enriching the script. And it may have transformed over the years, but the work has always been to add up. Always, very important, having a head, an executive producer who was Miguel Ángel Bernardeau. There was no doubt about it; If at any time there were doubts between the writing team and the actors, we always had a captain of the ship who was the one who decided. From these 22 years, I take all those script readings, first readings, Italian tables, as something very enriching. I suppose it's inevitable that there will come a time, throughout such a long series, when you know the character you're playing almost as you know yourself. Does that porosity become the way in which the actors influence the characters? Keep in mind that a script starts from a blank page, but also from the growth of all the characters. The script decides where the character is going to go. But sequence by sequence you contribute, because the character penetrates you, that's inevitable, and you add something of your own. In any case, it's the screenwriter who makes the decisions. And that's without forgetting the director, who is ultimately the one who marks the viewer's gaze. Since you've talked about Michelangelo Bernardeau, working with your partner, having "the home office"... You've had that for 22 years. How did you manage it, to leave the character out of your house on the one hand and your work on the other, at least once? No, not sometimes, all the time. From the moment I walked through that door we were the family, the kids, the dinner, it was walking the dogs, our projects, the studies, what we are going to do next weekend. We tried to separate, because it was healthy for everyone. I mean, there was a will to do that, it's not that it came out on its own... Well, there was a first moment, at the beginning of the series, when we talked about her all the time, it was inevitable. It was in the kitchen of my house where 'Cuéntame' was literally cooked, with the writers of the series, with Miguel Ángel...! At first I wasn't going to be Mercedes Alcántara, but it was still our show. But then, over the years, you learn to separate. You have to stop and give yourself to your family. In these 22 years I was not only the mother of a son, but I also had a daughter. And you know how women are, you were on the set and at the same time you were doing the shopping, making sure that Maria was taken to a piano activity, looking out for the whole day with the family... In my house it's sacred. I like to watch it when it airs. Feeling what the viewer is feeling. It may sound absurd, but I like it. And now that it's over, do you look to the future and say: "I'm going to lie down for a year because I deserve it" or do you already feel like leaving?I love periods of not working because they fill me with things that I really like. I love reading, walking, the sea, traveling... I love being with my children, eating, shopping, the simplest life, without schedules. But it's true that you finish a project and they offer you things and you say "mmmh, well". Although in the end, until you find that story you want to get involved in – because projects end up being a very important part of our lives, because you invest a lot of yourself in them – you don't get involved. If you could choose... theatre, cinema? Well, both, because I've done little theater, little cinema, and a lot of television over the years. But in the end, rather than telling you that I miss doing theatre or film, I would tell you that the key is the project. With whom, how, what story. In the end, when you've done something like 'Cuéntame' you become very demanding, you want a story that arrives. At the end of the day, we are storytellers that move and make you think. Will you cry when the curtain finally falls on 'Cuéntame'? We're going to cry a lot. But you're going to cry a lot too. It's not just an issue... Oh, I don't want to give anything away... We're going to cry for all that it means. I am very satisfied with the work done. How we finished it, and the journey. We're all going to be left with that feeling – in addition to crying, which is healing – satisfied. The actor's task remains, thousands of years after Greece, an almost religious, magical occupation. Someone who incarnates in another person, who tells you a story and thanks to whom you also live another life. In this age of social networks, when artists are so exposed, do we respect the actor's work enough? Aren't we taking that magic away from it? Thank you for valuing it so much. I am very proud of this work. With Merche I have felt a great responsibility. Because through it he told transcendent things. How he positioned himself in the face of life. In sickness, at work, in marriage. I agree with you that we should preserve the aura of mystery that surrounds the actor. It's what makes the viewer forget about Merche and see me as another character. Since you're not going to tell me what your projects are... It's bad luck! Ok... But since you're not going to tell me... Please, the day after you cry because 'Tell Me' is over, what are you going to do? We already passed that on the last day of shooting. It was super emotional, you can't imagine. From the direction they made all the actors be in the last scene and people came, in the last shot, people who had gone through 'Cuéntame' years ago. Technicians, script... About 300 people got together. And when the shot was over, everyone started applauding and it was... A mixture of sadness because it was over and joy at seeing each other again. And then we thanked the team, a team that has grown up there, people who have married, divorced, had children, also people who are not here because they have died... It's been a lot of life together. Well, we took out the box of kleenex. That. And I hope you like it!

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