Gael García Bernal

Gael García Bernal On Playing Doctor with Kate Hudson and Other Punny Things We Couldn't Pass Up

On the jury of the Marrakech Film Festival, along with with likes of John Malkovich and Maggie Cheung, Gael García Bernal is tasked with picking a winner in the Features category. We think, given his track record of supporting artistic merit and his aversion to boilerplate, he'll do it with gusto. This, even though he says he's really in Marrakech, his first time in the Moroccan retreat, to "have a holiday and play around" (that would be us). Here, the most revealing bits from a conversation with the hunky Mexican actor and director best remembered, with a hot flash, for his roles in Y Tu Mamá También and The Motorcycle Diaries...

On His Pet Project...
I have a documentary film festival called Ambulante that travels to 17 cities throughout Mexico. It's in its sixth edition and it starts in February. It lasts two and a half months, more or less. It's a really fun festival. There are 60 films shown on 1500 screens, including outside plazas, as well as commercial cinemas. It's not easy to put it together. It's not a fancy festival, and it's very difficult to get the money to do it, but it's one of the best experiences I've ever had. It's also one of the few festivals that has a good reason for being. When you see how grateful people are that you're bringing documentaries from all over the world, including Mexico and Latin America, it's a great chance to know the other and to know oneself, therefore.

On His Breakout Role...
We did Amores Perros in 1999 and it came out in 2000. Every time it's mentioned I think, shit, that was ten years ago. It's been a long time. When that film came out it was a very interesting moment in cinema in the world. There weren't so many surprises. It had been the same movies for a while. All of a sudden Amores Perros came out of left field. No one expected it. I thought I was just going to get a DVD of it, or a VHS, actually. I asked for a VHS copy to show my family. But the film came out, the alchemy worked and it galloped around the world. Also, a lot had to do with the fact that it a was new geography with fresh faces. It's exciting to see actors you've never seen before. I have never seen a Moroccan film. The day I see a Moroccan film, I know it's going to have its own world and its own context. That is very gratifying. So that's the pragmatic explanation for why things started to happen in Mexico. The best thing that can happen for Mexican cinema and for cinema around the world is that it ceases to have, or it doesn't acknowledge, a nationality. Whenever I'm asked if I support Mexican cinema, I say that I support good films. I had never seen a foreign film as a kid. Films were films. When you're a kid and go watch a film, it's a film, no matter the language. I think audiences around the world want to hear more languages. Films are good when they have a single point of view, as long as the director has a personal point of view. Formulas don't work any longer for what we call movies in general, not business products.

On Starting Out...
I remember thinking it would be great to go into film one day. But I never thought it would be possible. I saw it as very distant, almost alien. I was in drama school and I got the call to do Amores Perros. I thought they were kidding. I thought it would be the only one and that's it. Now we're here in Marrakech. I am very happy that my production company, Canana, exists and shows films that normally wouldn't be shown. It's a strong reference for freedom of speech in Mexico. But I think I enjoy acting the most.

On Ethnic Under-Representation in Hollywood...
Well, I would never play a Finnish guy. Even though I look like one [laughs], they would never call me because of my accent. Filmmakers spend a lot of time on politics when they should go and make a good movie. I'll play devil's advocate here and ask: should we expect films to be so democratic? That gives a moral stature to films that they shouldn't have. Let's say the big studios have a concept of what works and what doesn't work. In that world, there are certain restrictions and certain things they look for. But a film made in Mexico, no one is going to tell you they won't go ethnic.

On the Current State of Filmmaking...
I was talking last night with John [Malkovich] about Sheltering Sky, which was shot here in Morocco. A film like that could not exist in the film business right now. The way they shot it and the freedom they had cannot exist. It's a shame. You think, fucking hell, everything is much more accessible now and we can make films with very little money, but we only get the really big films or the really little ones. The middle class sort of disappeared. I think that's bonkers and a little dangerous.

On Starring Opposite Kate Hudson...
It's coming out soon. It's a romantic drama, that would be the niche. I play a doctor, believe it or not. I've gone from playing a drag queen to a doctor—it's not that much of a stretch. Since I play Kate's doctor, we play doctor.

On Finding the Time...
I always ask that of my actor friends. Some films I only work three weeks. But a film set in Bolivia, I worked 12 weeks. That one is coming out soon, in Spain and France. It's called También La Lluvia. You just have to juggle plates. This year I did three films. I take the family with me everywhere. It's very hard to divide your time when you're an actor. For me especially because I was born into an acting family. I have a second child on the way. It's the best thing that can ever happen. You almost forget about your life before the baby. Like, what was it like to have free time?





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Dec 06, 2010 00:00:00

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