Renowned actress María Onetto found dead

Onetto, who starred in Lucrecia Martel’s ‘The Headless Woman’ and Oscar-nominated ‘Wild Tales’, was 56

Actress María Onetto, known for her lead roles in Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman and the hit TV show Montecristo, died on Thursday in Buenos Aires.

The Argentine Actors Association announced the news in a farewell message on Twitter at 5 p.m. on Thursday. “With great sorrow, we say goodbye to our member and dear actress María Onetto,” they wrote. “Her prestigious and extensive career includes roles in theater, film and television. Our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.” 

A police report released later that day stated Onetto was found dead at her home in Palermo “with no signs of violence”, after relatives called for help because she hadn’t been responding to phone calls since February 27. She was reportedly suffering from depression after the death of her mother. 

After graduating in psychology, Onetto joined Ricardo Bartis’ Sportivo Teatral studio in the 1990s, and became an acting coach. It wasn’t until seven years later, when Rafael Spregelburd offered her the lead role in his play Raspando la cruz, that she decided to become an actress. Her stage career continued, and she gained recognition in the independent theater scene with La escala humana –directed by Javier Daulte, Rafael Spregelburd and Alejandro Tantanian– in 2002. 

Her jump to the mainstream came with Javier Daulte’s award-winning play Nunca estuviste tan adorable (You were never so adorable) in 2008. She went on to play the same role in the film version, which was directed by Mausi Martinez and premiered the following year. That fame helped her get a role in the hit TV show Montecristo, where she played an obstetrician under suspicion of participating in the military dictatorship’s systematic plan of child theft. 

Her next step was the big screen, when she starred in Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman (2008), which premiered in Cannes and won her a Condor de Plata award for Best Actress back in Argentina. She also worked alongside Argentina’s revered actor, Alfredo Alcón, in a version of Death of a Salesman.

Her film career continued as the lead in Natalia Smirnoff’s Puzzle (2009) –which got a 2018 Hollywood remake starring Kelly McDonald– and Lock Charmer (2014). Later that year, she was also cast in Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales, which was nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Film category.  

Her last work was in the as yet unreleased Star+ series about Argentine boxing champion Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, where she played the fighter’s mother Doña Dominga.

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