“We’ve had offers to re-enact certain scenes from ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien,” Gael Garcia Bernal said of himself and Diego Luna during a discussion at the Apple Store SoHo yesterday afternoon.
“And we have accepted many times,” Luna said back, not missing a beat.
This kind of back-and-forth report was rampant through the endlessly entertaining discussion between the actors, promoting “Rudo y Cursi,” their first acting collaboration since 2002’s “Tambien.” “Cursi,’ directed by Carlos Cuarón (who was also part of the conversation) and currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, finds the pair playing competitive stepbrothers who work on their family’s banana ranch until a scout sees their moves on a local football (read: soccer) team and sends them to the big leagues.
“We’ve been working together but avoiding acting in the same thing,” Luna said. “We created a company, we have a documentary film festival in Mexico… We have a lot going on. But it was cool to act again in a film that talks about brotherhood and has a lot to do with the connection we’ve made through these years.”
The talk – moderated by indieWIRE‘s Eugene Hernandez – made the rollicking charm of that connection quite clear, with dialogue ranging from Garcia Bernal mocking Luna’s performance in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” to Luna remarking as to whether Sean Penn or Garcia Bernal was a better kisser (in the end, his answer was actually none of the above, citing his work with Tom Hanks in “The Terminal” as the best man-on-man action he’d ever had: “It was off camera, so we went further”).
Besides being an onscreen reunion for the pair, “Cursi” is also the first film from Cha Cha Cha, a production company started by Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro.
“The films we do are about the point of view of a director who wants to tell a story,” Luna said of his work with Bernal on their own company, Canana. “If it matters to him, it might matter to someone else. Through the process of shooting and getting the film ready, you just learn to please a director and his point of view. It’s all about confidence and believing in someone who has something to say.”
“The idea of putting together a company was inspired and formalized a little bit by what people like Carlos and Alfonso and Guillermo and Alejandro have been doing,” Garcia Bernal added. “Creating a small sense of community and helping each other. And not falling into a ridiculous temptation to elaborate a niche. The fact that Latin American films are having a little bit of resonance other than in their own countries is that they are incredibly free. They’re breaking all the molds, in a sense…” (continued on the next page)
As for “Cursi” itself, the film fulfilled a different aspiration for Luna and Garcia Bernal.
“We’ve been wanting all our lives to become football players,” Garcia Bernal said. “And finally we get a chance to do it, but obviously in a film. Not for real. But at least we get an idea of how it feels.”
Luna, meanwhile, poked fun at Garcia Bernal’s football skills. “I’ve never been a goalkeeper and I managed to do every scene that you’ll see in the film,” he said. “There was no special effects, and no CGI. So all the money that the producers had to invest in special effects was invested in scenes that Gael was part of. And you’ll see, it’s pretty good.”
Luna cracked that the scenes with Garcia Bernal did not involve an actual ball, and mockingly applauded his acting skills. “It’s tough,” Luna said. “I always had an actor to act with, or a ball to act with. And he had to act wih nothing. He’s an amazing actor.”
In response, Garcia Bernal joked by asking if photoshop was considered a special effect. “That’s a special effect, right, to slim Diego down?”
The film doesn’t actually have a lot of football in it. “After I saw ‘Funny Games’ – that great film by Michael Haneke in which is the most violent film you could ever see but all the violence is offscreen – I came up with the idea to do the same,” Cuarón explained. “There’s not much [football] in it, it’s more about the reactions.”
“Cursi” is also a exploration of Mexico’s complicated class system, with the main characters journey from one extreme to the next. “I wanted to make a social portrait of today’s Mexico,” Cuarón said. There’s this thing about failure and success and how Mexicans regard that… The story gets complicated for the characters in their context. I just wanted to portray it – I don’t judge – I’m just showing all the different classes, the social strata from the very humble countryside guys to lower middle class to upper middle class. It has a lot to do with what’s happening in Mexico right now.”
The question and answer period of the talk inevitably brought back things to Luna and Garcia Bernal’s onscreen kiss in “Tambien” (as well as a question as to whether the boys had girlfriends to which Garcia Bernal proudly informed, “yes”). “The ninth one we gave to each other was like ‘okay,’ and its the one you see in the film,” Luna explained to an audience member. “This is a very bizarre thing that can only happen in an Alfonso Cuarón film but the sound mixer came in – he was hiding with his little ear phones on. And he came out and said, ‘Guys, what’s wrong? The kiss is not a love kiss! I’m not seeing the love there! It’s about love, this kiss!’ And we’re like, ‘He’s the sound mixer!'”
Though there is no such kiss in “Cursi,” you can check it out when it screens again today at the Tribeca Film Festival, and when its released by Sony Pictures Classics on May 8th. The discussion is part of a series of talks co-presented by indieWIRE and Apple at the Apple Store SoHo. For a full list of talks, click here.