When Gael Garcia Bernal was on the Sundance jury at the 2017 U.S. dramatic competition, the actor was disappointed to find that not a single film in the section was directed by an American-born filmmaker of Latino descent. Almost two years later, he was struggling to name one person who could have been there. “I would love to mention a good Latino director from the U.S.,” he said over coffee at the Bowery Hotel this week. “I would love to give you one name — like, yeah, man, this guy is doing great stuff. But no. I can’t.”
The actor was quick to draw a distinction between American Latinos and filmmakers born in Latin-American countries who found success in the United States — especially the so-called Three Amigos, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, and Guillermo del Toro. Bernal’s breakout performance was in Iñarritu’s “Amores Perros,” and he worked with Cuaron on “Y Tu Mama Tambien” soon after.
“They’re from Mexico and they’re doing productions all over the world,” Garcia Bernal said. “This discussion is important for people who are here. There’s a whole spectrum of the population that is not shown.”
Garcia Bernal has plenty of other options for his own career, including projects in his native Mexico. “Museo,” the sophomore effort from “Gueros” filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios, opens this week after finding acclaim at the Berlin and Toronto film festivals. In the movie, the actor plays one half of a duo that famously robbed Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology in 1985.
While Garcia Bernal has acted in plenty of English-language projects, from “The Science of Sleep” to the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle,” he said he remains most comfortable in his native tongue. “There is a huge difference,” he said. “When it’s in Spanish, I can see more or less the structure of it. I can see further into it and engage in transforming it that much more. With an English-speaking project, it’s always a bit like being invited to play in a band.”
He has been wary of tackling larger studio projects, though he provided the lead voicework on last year’s “Coco” and is attached to play Zorro in a project that has been gestating for over a year. (Cuaron’s son Jonas is attached to direct). After “Y Tu Mama Tambien” became an international hit, Garcia Bernal passed on a lot of offers, choosing instead to star in “The Motorcycle …read more