Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interview with Carlos Cuaron (director of Rudo & Cursi) - June 21st, 2009

Promoting: Rudo & Cursi
Venue: The Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Film Festival
Interview type: One-on-one

Interview with Carlos Cuaron (writer-director of Rudo & Cursi)
Venue: The Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Film Festival
Interview type: One-on-one

ViewLondon: What's the film about, first of all?

Carlos Cuaron (CC): It's a sibling rivalry story between two brothers who work in a banana plantation in the Pacific coast in Mexico. The older brother, Rudo, played by Diego Luna, has the dream of becoming a football player. And his younger brother, Cursi, played by Gael Garcia Bernal has the dream of becoming a singer. So it's a rivalry story between these two guys in the context of football in Mexico.

VL: Where did the story come from?

CC: Well, my original idea was that I wanted to make a mockumentary about a footballer who came from a humble background and made it big and when he was at the peak of his success, he mysteriously disappeared. So I told this concept to Diego and Gael separately, during the Y Tu Mama Tambien publicity tour and they both said, “I want to be that guy”. So I was honoured, obviously, but I had the problem of having two actors and only one character. So I realised that what I really wanted to do was to work with both of them again, so I created a brother with his own conflicts with the other one that I already had and that's how it all started.

VL: Did the actors play the parts that you wrote for them?

CC: When I brought the original idea to them - when it was going to be a sibling rivalry story and not a mockumentary at all - Gael's original reaction was to say that he should play Rudo and Diego said, 'Yeah, yeah and I should play Cursi'. But I told them that I didn't want to repeat myself, that I wanted to do something original and to do that I needed to start from scratch and I needed to cast them against their natural types. They immediately got it and started to throw in ideas, because they are great, creative, imaginative actors.

VL: Was it easy to get back into the swing of working together again?

CC: Oh yeah, it was automatic. Because we wanted to work together again. During the publicity tour for Y Tu Mama Tambien, we would just make up stories and we were thinking that they would both be acting and Alphonso would be directing and I'd be writing or maybe that I would direct whatever I wrote. And so it was automatic – when I got the idea and told them they said yes and when I told Alphonso [Cuaron, Carlos' brother and producer] he said, 'Okay, man, whenever the script is ready I'm going to help you set up this movie'.

VL: Do you have plans for the four of you to work together again in the future?

CC: Yeah, why not? Though my intuition says that it's not going to be soon. And probably the director is going to be Jonas, Alphonso's son, the writer-director, and that probably Alphonso and I are going to help him produce it. But I would very gladly work with both of them again or separately.

VL: Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

CC: I like the first penalty kick in the small village. I like the way it's written, but I also think that we all did a great job in that scene. Diego, Gael and Guillermo Francella are just amazing in that scene. I also think the photography in that scene is beautiful.

VL: It's interesting that there's hardly any football action in the film – it all happens with audience reactions and so on. How did that come about?

CC: Well, the problem was that while I was writing the script, I felt that football was getting in the way of the drama, of the rivalry between these two guys. And I didn't know how to deal with it because it was the background, the context. And then one day I saw Michael Haneke's Funny Games, which is probably the most violent film I've ever seen in my life and yet all the violence is offscreen. And when I finished watching that movie, I said, 'That's what I've got to do'. That's where I got the idea. So we actually understand what is happening on the field in the stadium from the human emotion, from the people's reactions on the stands and the sports-casters narrating the game. We only go down on the pitch in the climactic parts of the rivalry between these two guys, so it's not important if it's a yellow card or a disallowed goal or anything – what is important is what's happening between the two of them.

VL: What's your next project?

CC: I don't know yet.

Interview-based anecdote: This was actually quite frustrating. I'd been booked in to do the same interviews twice - once on camera for MovieBeat and once for print only for ViewLondon. The problem was, it seemed ridiculous to all of us that I was basically asking them the same questions twice, with the result that Alphonso Cuaron bailed on the second interview and Diego and Gael spent the second pissing about more than they did in the first. Ah well.

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