The House of Sand did not follow normal procedures of film production. Fernanda Montenegro’s and Fernanda Torres’s participation was guaranteed during the development period, before the characters even existed. “The story was truly written for them,” Andrucha reveals.

“What fascinated me about the movie was the fact that it is a mysterious and feminine narrative about time acting as an agent on mother and daughter, besides acting with “Nanda,” and being directed by a great talent like Andrucha,” says Fernanda Montenegro.

Although nervous about accepting the part in the movie because of its location, Fernanda Torres states that the place contributed to the character’s composition. “I was really afraid to be a part of this movie because it was in a very distant and inaccessible place. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, so I thought: ‘I’m going there in the same situation as the character did’. It is a physical movie, where the location helps build the part. Now I’m really happy, it was a wonderful experience.”

Fernanda Montenegro plays three characters: Áurea's mother, Dona Maria, Áurea herself (at the ages of 60 and 87) ­ the main character ­ and her daughter Maria (58); while Fernanda Torres plays Áurea (28-37) and Maria (31). Although the movie was filmed in chronological order, avoiding confusion among roles and time periods, acting so many characters was not an easy task.

“In just the one movie I used up five old women of my life. I played women with an age range of 60 to 90 years of age. I used to tell Andrucha: ‘I am making the effort of more than 20 years of old women. I emptied my trunk of old women in this movie,” Fernanda Montenegro jokes.

The rest of the cast, however, were chosen after the screenplay was finished. One can say Andrucha was daring in the casting of some of the actors. Luiz Melodia, for instance, a newcomer to the movie industry, was one of the biggest gambles. The singer plays Massu at 62 years of age, a character who, when young, is played by Seu Jorge.

“It was a risk that I took on my own. I noticed that Luiz Melodia was the ideal person for this role when I put his picture side-by-side with Seu Jorge’s,” the director explains.

Actress Laís Corrêa, the movie’s cast coordinator, deserves part of credit for Melodia's acting. She spent days working out the scenes with the singer and followed the entire evolution.

“To begin with he was insecure. Besides being a newcomer to movies, he had to bring continuity to the work of another actor. With a lot of dedication to work he was able, little by little, to feel at home and become more confident. He really wanted to act,” recalls Laís Corrêa. “Laís was fundamental. She was the person who most taught me the things I didn’t know, like positioning, gestures. She was always there for me,” compliments the singer.

Besides Laís’s preparation and supervision before and during shooting, on the set Luiz Melodia received valuable tips from the distinguished Fernanda Montenegro, Stênio Garcia and Fernanda Torres.

“At first I thought I’d get nervous acting alongside them, but I ended up becoming even more confident. They’re the ones that approached me. Fernanda Montenegro, with all her humility, would ask me: ‘can I give you some tips?’ Just being able to act with these stars, for me it was like winning an Oscar,” recounts Melodia.

Seu Jorge reveals that he had certain freedoms in constructing his character.

“It was my best movie experience. Massu is dense and challenging. I had a lot of responsibility in constructing the character. I delved into the man’s story within my own conception and imagination. Andrucha left me room, within his proposal, to change Massu’s walk and help choose the costumes. It was incredible.”

Enrique Diaz and Stênio Garcia shared the role of the military officer, at 35 and 58 years of age, respectively.

“I was very moved when I read the script. I was seduced by the cosmic characteristics of the film and the representations of Brazilian culture, of the archaic black man. I really admire the people involved in this project. To play Luiz, I thought about the way Stênio acts,” says Enrique.

The inherent difficulties of working at a location like the Lençóis Maranhenses helped Stênio Garcia to construct his character.

“The climatic and geographical characteristics of the Lençóis really don’t make it the most comfortable place to work. It is very hot. You breathe in sand, you sweat sand. But I’m the type of actor who searches for discomfort to better understand and play out a character. And besides, the excellent production crew of the film softened all the hardships,” he says.

More accustomed to being behind the cameras, director Ruy Guerra played the role of the Portuguese Vasco de Sá.

“I accepted the role firstly because I found the story very interesting and I’d have an opportunity to act alongside the Fernandas and work with Andrucha. Furthermore, I like to act from time to time, because I believe it’s important for a director to have the experience of being an actor,” says Ruy.

Emiliano de Queiroz brings to life Chico do Sal, a trader in the region who agrees to take Áurea and Maria back to civilization.

“Playing Chico do Sal was fascinating. Firstly because I acted alongside two great actresses, and also because I had the opportunity to work with a young and talented director like Andrucha. Chico do Sal represents the passing of time, a living element of nature, the only compass in that region. As his salt becomes obsolete, he turns into an insignificant person.”

João Acaiabe plays Massu’s father. And Camilla Facundas takes on her first role as Maria at nine years of age. The House of Sand also counts on the special guests Jorge Mautner and Nelson Jacobina playing two scientists on the astronomy expedition.