Brazilian actress, singer, and comedian Samantha Schmütz is working on an MMA-themed movie for Juninho Play, a character played by Schmütz for a half-decade in theaters and on the popular comedy show Zorra Total on Globo TV.
Schmütz already turned Juninho Play into an animated web series in 2015, and is now in negotiations to make a movie about the character. The story was written by Schmütz and TV director Leandro Soares, the creator of comedy TV show Vai Que Cola, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve made so many friends in the MMA world, like ‘Claudinha’ Gadelha, [Junior dos Santos] ‘Cigano,’ Anderson Silva, so it’s a universe of love,” Schmütz said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “I think [MMA] is very rich, and there aren’t many fight films in Brazil.
“There aren’t many fight films with humor in general, but the fight world gives you a lot of options for humor. But at the same time, I want it to look beautiful too. Jiu-jitsu represents Brazil really well; it connects Brazil to the world, so I want it to be very serious and technical, but also add jokes with positions and whatnot. There’s a lot of room for that.”
Schmütz said she became a fan of martial arts thanks to her husband’s love for boxing and MMA. She began training after finding out that Pride FC veteran Ricardo Arona lived close to her house in Niteroi.
“When I first played Juninho in the theater, I went to buy a jiu-jitsu shirt for him — and bought a fake one, I’ll admit,” Schmütz said. “The store had a shirt with Arona’s symbol, and I knew that was the one after he told me he was from Niteroi.”
The actress now lives in Los Angeles and trains jiu-jitsu with Fabio Trindade at Gracie Barra Northridge. Schmütz flew to Las Vegas this past April to train with Claudia Gadelha at the UFC Performance Institute and get a closer look at the sport by watching UFC Vegas 71 live at the UFC APEX, a card that had Brazil’s fighters Bruno Silva, Norma Dumont, and Iasmin Lucindo amongst the winners.
Schmütz said she plans to invite Gadelha, Arona, and many other MMA and jiu-jitsu personalities, such as Gabi Garcia, to play in the movie, and she hopes to shoot scenes in Las Vegas. Schmütz said she grew up watching fight films like Jon Voight’s The Champ and the classic Rocky series, and feels inspired by Sylvester Stallone to write, produce, and star her own MMA movie.
“[Leandro Soares] understands my way of speaking, what I can do and where can I go, and we identify in many aspects,” Schmütz said. “It’s my pet project, the one I love the most. I’ve been preparing and taking classes.”
The movie plot, according to Schmütz, is Juninho Play discovering MMA as a path to make money and help support his grandmother.
“The story is a personal adventure for the greater good, to support his family,” Schmütz said. “There are several lessons too. You can make a lot of analogies between the philosophy of life, training, and discipline. You can’t go from zero to a professional fighter [quickly], just like in real life. I have this project for such a long time and pieces are falling into place. I’m enjoying every step of the way.”