Muse Magazine

Monday, May 15, 2006

FILMS: Profile

Brains and Beauty
Gael Garcia Bernal is pretty on the outside and politically conscious on the inside

This summer, sandwiched between the special affects-driven action flick
franchises and deep-pocketed big studio blockbusters, there will be
small-budgeted indie films with character, artful storytelling and
inspired acting. Gael Garcia Bernal will star in most of them.

In addition to his movie, “The King,” which hits theaters today and
features the 28-year-old as a Navy man on a doomed search for his
father, Bernal also stars in the Michel Gondry directed Sundance Film
Festival hit, “The Science of Sleep,” and “Babel,” which is a contender
for the Palm D’Or at Cannes. “It’s not as if I deliberately decided to
operate outside of the Hollywood machine,” says the guy who broke
Mexico’s box office records twice. “I just want to do the stories that
I’m interested in regardless of what budget they have. I don’t know the
rules of Hollywood so I’m not playing the game, just doing what I

Coming out of the mouth of anyone else, that quote may sound canned.
But his resume backs it up. “The King” tackles issues of race and
identity through the eyes of a bastard son of a Mexican immigrant and
American evangelist. “The Navy was a vehicle for him to be considered
a part of this country that he was born in. Which is kind of sad,
because I think there’s more ways of doing that than joining the
military. He needed to be accepted legally. His mother wasn’t,” he
explains. As he goes on, it becomes apparent that immigration is a
subject Bernal cares about outside of the movie. “A physical wall
exists between Texas and Mexico and the people south of the border can
see in, but the people north can’t. So there is this ridiculous
division in that once you’re in, everything else becomes invisible. The
division between Mexico and the United States goes deeper than even
that of Palestine and Israel,” he explains.

Like a more political and intellectual Johnny Depp, Bernal started out
as an after school special type teenage heartthrob and has since
progressed to full on act-or through heady roles. His career path is a
stark contrast to that of his best friend and “Y tu mama tambien”
co-star Diego Luna. “Would I have made ‘Dirty Dancing’? No, but that’s
because I don’t dance as well as Diego,” he replies. The two will team
up again next year in the soccer flick, “Toto.”

His next project requires longer hair, today it falls just above his
shoulders. That’s about all he’ll reveal about the movie. But Bernal
will talk a bit more about the hair. “I did have dread locks once and
then cut them all off and wore it really short. This time I have to
grow it until it’s pretty long.” It’s safe to assume an interesting
storyline will come along with that too.



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