In the world of Superheroes, Gael Garcia Bernal has not played one yet. A Hollywood blockbuster hasn’t been on the Mexican-born actor’s radar, until recently announced him as the new Zorro, known as “Z.”
The charismatic star of “Mozart in the Jungle” has performed in more than 40 features and producing about a dozen other great films, inspiring thousands of fans and followers around the world.
I met Gael at the Vanity Fair after-party of the Academy Awards, 2005. That year, it was one of the most diverse ceremonies ever.
The night’s champion was “Million Dollar Baby.” The story of a woman boxer won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Supporting Actor Morgan Freeman as well.
At that time, the sense of unity and diversity was on the air. Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for “Ray.” Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for Best Actress for “Maria Full of Grace.” She hold the Latino representation high. Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo were up for Best Actor and Supporting Actress for “Hotel Rwanda.”
Spain won Best Foreign Film for “The Sea Inside” with Javier
The story of children overcoming adversity through photography in India, “Born into Brothels,” won the best documentary.
And the movie in which Gael Garcia Bernal portrayed a young Argentinean Ernesto “Che” Guevara, “The Motorcycle Diaries,” took home the best original song award: “Al otro lado del río” composed by Jorge Dexler from Uruguay. It was the first and the only one time in history that a song in Spanish won an Oscar®.
When Prince announced the Uruguayan singer-composer as the winner, instead of giving a traditional speech, Jorge sang the song “a cappella.”
Before the Oscar® show producers had sparked a controversy by
hiring Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana to sing “The Motorcycle Diaries”
song during the broadcast, arguing the lack of notoriety of the original
On that night, at the party, I spotted Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna standing in a corner near the entrance. I took advantage of speaking with Gael, and I proudly said: "Congratulations, your movie won the Oscar® for best song.”
Gael, enormously happy, said: “Did you see? Did you see it? He sang the song! He sang the song!” And he hugged me, making me feel like a real “Charolastra” (buddies from "Y tú mamá también").
Two years before, in 2003, during the Second Iraq War,
hundreds of activists were protesting the war outside the Kodak Theater before
the Oscar® show.
That night, when Gael presented the nominated song “Burn it Blue” from “Frida.” The film, starring and produced by Salma Hayek, had five Oscar nominations. Gael made an uncomfortable denotation in his speech, showing support for the street demonstrators: “If Frida Kahlo were still alive, she would be outside with the people protesting against the war,” he said.
At the party, I also told Gael: “That was a great
speech!” He replied: “After that, the Academy will never invite me again.” I
told him: “Do not worry, they will,” I replied.
Eleven years after, the Academy invited him to become a new member.
The star of “Y tu mamá también” is a worldwide established actor who had said "No" to Hollywood.
Garcia Bernal is a man of integrity and doesn't want to be “leveled.” He doesn’t want to portray a stereotyped character, like the ones Hollywood loves to give to Latino and other minority actors: the bad guys, housekeepers, gardeners, cooks, busboys, drivers, murderers, rapist, and drug dealers.
Other legendary Mexican actors who stood up against the Hollywood stereotypes were Anthony Quinn and Ricardo Montalban.
In the 1950s, the most fabulous Diva of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, Maria Felix, also said "No" to Hollywood. She firmly believed: "Why should I play a peasant in Hollywood, when in other countries I portray a Queen?"
As a producer, Gael worked on a beautiful documentary “Cochochi,” and in the acclaimed Mexican independent production “Güeros.”
He also produced
the international film festival sensation "Las Elegidas/The Chosen
Ones," directed by David Pablos (2015), available on Netflix
Time magazine named Gael Garcia Bernal one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2016.
Deeply moved by the immigrants’ suffering, he took first-hand a trip from Central America up to the North documenting the journey in “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” (2013).
|Déficit premiering in Cannes 2008. © Photo by Alexandros Romanos Lizardos, Greece|
Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Producer Pablo Cruz founded Canana
Canana is producing projects that skyrocket the careers of other directors such as the Japanese-American Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Sin Nombre” (2009), who went on to direct last year’s acclaimed hit: “Beasts of No Nation,” and now, the James Bond multi-million production “No Time to Die.”
|"Neruda" with Gael Garcia Bernal, 2016|
Garcia Bernal has been a big supporter of other directors like Pablo Larrain. They worked together in the Oscar® nominated political film “No.
The Chilean director premiered this year in Cannes “Neruda”
with rave reviews. The biopic of the Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda, also
includes Gael Garcia Bernal in the cast.
Bernal, Luna, and Cruz founded Ambulante, a film festival that focuses on documentaries. The festival travels from town to town, connecting audiences that usually don't go to a movie theater to watch a documentary, or documentaries that are not showing in movie theaters.
The star of “Amores Perros” has worked with some of the best
directors in the world, including the Oscar® winners: Alejandro G. Iñárritu,
Alfonso Cuarón, and Pedro Almodóvar.
As I mentioned earlier, Garcia Bernal was just announced for the new Jonás Cuarón futuristic version of “El Zorro.”
The Mexican actor is breaking borders, barriers, languages, accents, and stereotypes to become the international star that he is now.
The potential of this gifted actor is enormous, and his best movie is still yet to come to fruition.
Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Garcia Bernal’s intensity goes beyond craziness, while he is trying to conquer his eccentric neighbor, Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac I, II), escaping to a bizarre world of dreams.
The Oscar® winner for Best Original Song; narrates the 1952 epic trip of a young Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his best friend Dr. Alberto Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna) on a motorcycle journey from Buenos Aires to Venezuela, throughout the Andes and the Amazons, showing the difficulties, poverty, and suffering of the Latin-American people, enduring and shaping the spirit of a revolutionary leader.
El crimen del padre Amaro
Director: James Marsh (The Theory of Everything).
It was not easy for two friends to grow up under the discipline of a Christian school and under Father Manolo’s hand. They discovered movies, love, and fear. Twenty years later, the three characters reunite under different circumstances. Love, cross-dressing, passion, jealousy, and revenge are the characteristics of this noir Almodovar film, with the extraordinary performance of Gael Garcia, who plays three different characters, including a transgender person who sings like Sarita Montiel.
At the same time, in Japan, the owner of the gun was found to be a hunter (Koji Yakusho) with a deaf teenage-daughter (Rinko Kikuchi). “Babel” got multiple Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture.
His wife, Ellen, faces a dilemma about her professional life or what she is missing at home. Her daughter is more attached to her Filipino nanny (Marife Necesito), who is also missed by her children back in the Philippines.
This is a film about modern life, personal business, the Internet, family, and self-realization.
Julianne Moore is a woman who becomes the leader. Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Danny Glover, and Gael Garcia complete the terrific cast of this apocalyptic movie.
First-time Jon Steward was brave enough to cast the Mexican actor as a Middle Eastern, regardless of the backlash of the Middle Eastern community who saw this as an insult for not casting a Middle Eastern actor.
Gael Garcia does a terrific job portraying the journalist who gets confused for a CIA Spy. This is a true story of human suffering in a chaotic world.
The Spanish Oscar® submission in 2011 juxtaposes the symbolism of the Spanish Conquest and the contemporary impositions of the corporations fighting against the inhabitants for their right to own the water supply that the mining company wants to take away from them.
|Gael Garcia Bernal first kiss on the screen, in 1996 with Elpidia Carrillo|
A beautiful coming-of-age Oscar® nominated short film about a curious milk boy (Gael Garcia Bernal) who wants to have sex for the first time. The milk-boy and his friends are infatuated by the beautiful Reyna, the most gorgeous call-girl in town played by Elpidia Carrillo (“Bread and Roses”). It’s all about the first time experience.
This short marks Gael's first kiss in movies.
I hope you enjoy the trajectory of the Mexican Star who choose his projects intelligently.
Olvidados/Forgotten A Powerful Political Story Untold Until Now