Interview with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna - June 21st, 2009
Promoting: Rudo & Cursi
Venue: The Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Film Festival
Interview type: One-on-one (one-on-two)
ViewLondon (VL): What's the film about, first of all?
Diego Luna (DL): The film is about these two brothers that come from a little town in Mexico, called Tlachatlan, that is in the Pacific Coast. And one wants to be a football player, he's a goal-keeper, my character, who is nick-named Rudo or “Tough”. And Gael's character, who's nick-named Cursi, which means “Corny” or “Cheesy”, he wants to be a singer. And it's the journey of these two guys and the story of their relationship and the love between these two brothers and how life changes for them. It's a really fun film to watch.
VL: What attracted you to the project?
Gael Garcia Bernal (GGB): The prospect of working with Diego again was very exciting and also working with the people who introduced us to cinema (director Carlos Cuaron and producer Alphonso Cuaron). Alphonso and Carlos are responsible for us being able to do what we like. We worked with them and they included us on Y Tu Mama Tambien, in a way that we felt part of the project, more than we had ever felt before. And they're still our very good friends. And the story was great too, the idea of playing football players. So I guess little by little everything started to add up and every reason to be in the film was the correct one.
DL: Also, you know Carlos wrote Y Tu Mama Tambien and he was always there for us, so in a way it made a lot of sense to be part of his first film [as director] and to be there as he was when we started.
VL: Was it easy to get back into the groove of the four of you working together again?
DL: Yeah. It was really easy, in fact, because it was a necessity. We so wanted to act together again and to work with the two brothers. We also really wanted to shoot in Mexico again. We'd shot a lot of amazing things out of Mexico, but the idea of returning to shoot in your own country with the same team that you'd enjoyed working with so many years ago was pretty hard to resist.
VL: The film is quite broad in places. Were you worried about slipping into caricature with the characters?
GGB: Yes, definitely. We constantly wanted to have a good barometer that allowed us to stop falling into that and that's what the director is for. I like those movies in general, there's nothing wrong with them, but then it would have been like a Ben Stiller or Jack Black movie, where the caricature is intentionally ridiculous and it's like a commentary on the comedy, where you have to be in on the joke. We wanted to do something where the characters existed for real and they're not conscious of the joke. So that was very difficult, but it's a great challenge for actors to be able to do that.
VL: The film's also about sibling rivalry. Is there any rivalry between the two of you?
DL: No rivalry, no. There is kind of a legal competition, you know? Sometimes, either when we play football or, when we were younger, if there was a cute girl at a party, probably we would compete for her, a little bit. But normally what we do is we complement each other really well and I think that's a lesson that comes from acting and shooting film, where it's not a race you achieve yourself. You have to be around people who want the same thing and are aiming for the same goal and there's room for everyone. So I think it's because there's no rivalry between us that our characters can be so much in competition and we can talk about it. And we also used a lot of our experiences with the Cuaron brothers – these guys compete a lot, so we looked at them and took from them. Because we're not brothers, we're friends, so we choose to be friends every day. You know, you don't have to have breakfast at the same table every day – you either call each other or not.
VL: Are you both football fans?
GGB: We're both football fans and we like good football a lot. And I think we're going through a stage in our lives where football has become very important, intellectually as well. It's really become a very strong intellectual necessity, football – more than the physical activity, because we hardly ever get time to play. And if you're not fit, football can be one of the most dangerous sports that exists. For me especially, I can say that every time I play football without having played for a while, I get hurt, big-time. But intellectually, it's part of our discussions and we like talking about the problems in football as if they were incredibly important. So it definitely plays a big part on our consciousness, to metaphorise about life, with football.
VL: Which of you is the better player?
DL: Okay, you got to the point.
GGB: Yeah, this is where the competition starts.
DL: I have to say that we're not allowed to answer that, because we've always played in the same team and it's not about who scores, it's about the team.
GGB: I've got to say that at the moment I'm really terrible and even Diego can beat me right now.
DL: “Even” Diego! Ha ha!
VL: Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
DL: My favourite scene is Gael's music video. When he sings, it's unbelievable. It's amazing. That's a real piece of art.
GGB: I like the first penalty kick scene a lot. It's really well written and full of...something. Nitty gritty?
VL: Were you always going to play the characters that way round, with Diego as Rudo and Gael as Cursi?
DL: Yes, but the smart thing Carlos did was he went for the opposite to our characters in Y Tu Mama Tambien. Not because one is rough and the other is corny, but also the opposite in reality – Gael is a year older than I am, so giving me the role of the older brother would definitely change the dynamics of our relationship. And that also allowed us to really come up with these characters that are so different from us.
VL: How does Carlos' directing style compare to other directors you've both worked with?
GGB: Well, it was his first feature and yet he was incredibly experienced – in a way, it didn't feel like it was his first film. But one thing he has is that he's a very good writer. So the parts that come from being a writer differentiated him from other more visual directors.
DL: He knew exactly what he wanted to do and he also surrounded himself with interesting and talented collaborators so he always had someone interesting to talk to. And even though he knew the kind of film he wanted to do, he allowed everyone to say what they were thinking. And in the beginning I was scared because I thought he'd just be manipulated by all these talented people, but no, he was strong enough to say no when he wanted to say no and to stay firm on that. And that takes a lot of maturity that normally a first-time director wouldn't have.