Sir David Frost’s conversation with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal was his last ever TV interview. And it is as fine an example of his interviewing style as you could hope to find. Sir David is relaxed, funny and quite clearly delighted to meet the young Mexican star in Mexico City as, together, they examine the revival of Mexican cinema.
With actor parents, Gael tells Sir David that he was always around the theatre and jokes that, after his first role as Jesus Christ at the age of three, “it all went downhill”.
There is this monster lack of justice that has created these ... black holes of humanity.
He also talks about his hugely controversial first screen kiss, on a Mexican soap opera when he was just 11, and explains that “the people that were scandalised by this were the people that owned the TV channel”.
After that he became well known in Mexico, but says “nobody really prepares you for this kind of television exposition”.
He spent time studying drama in the UK and whilst there received a call from the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu asking him to star in a film called Amores Perros.
Fearing that it would be a film that never made it to cinema screens, on the last day of filming, Gael said: “Save me a VHS of the movie, so I could share it with the family.” But, the film was a huge hit and, the actor explains, really changed the lives of those in it.
Gael talks through some of his other hits, most notably Y Tu Mama Tambien, which was then the most successful Spanish language film of all time and was nominated for an Academy Award, and The Motorcycle Diaries, a film about the life of Che Guevara, of which Gael says: “I love this film because of the experience of making it.”
Gael also talks to Sir David about two of Mexico’s biggest social problems: the migrant trail and drugs wars. Issues, which his production company, Canana, seeks to highlight through its work. “There is this monster lack of justice that has created these … black holes of humanity,” the actor tells Sir David when reviewing his films about migrants heading for the US and the perils they face along the way.
When Sir David asks him whether he feels safe in a country were kidnappings are common, Gael explains that there are “more reasons for me to be optimistic by still living in Mexico”.
When questioned about his Hollywood ambitions, Gael stresses that the majority of his acting will continue to be in Mexico and Latin America but reveals that he hopes to play the starring role in Hollywood’s next Zorro movie.
Finally, Sir David and Gael chat about something they both love – football – and joke about their love of North London rivals Arsenal (Sir David) and Tottenham Hotspur (Gael). Gael is even happy to show off his skills for the cameras during a Saturday morning match for his local team.
Simultaneously serious, enquiring, witty and amusing, this interview reveals a warmth shared between interviewer and interviewee. Both men said afterwards how much they had enjoyed the other’s company – and it is clear for all to see.
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