Sunday, January 3, 2010

Exclusive: Interview with Ricardo Darin

I wrote an article for this week's Newsweek International about the fantastic Argentine film "El Secreto de sus Ojos" (The Secret in Their Eyes), one of the most successful Spanish-language films in recent memory. For the article, I interviewed director Juan Jose Campanella (above left) as well as actor Ricardo Darin (above right). Both men were endlessly gracious and generous with their time. I admire both of them tremendously. You can read the article here.

Scoring the interview with Darin took a long time. He is one of the most in-demand actors in Latin America. But it was well worth the wait. I was only able to use one quote from Darin in the Newsweek article, but I wanted to publish the whole interview here, because he is such a smart, honest and funny guy. So below is our chat almost in its entirety, translated from Spanish to English. Enjoy.

Why do you work with Juan Jose Campanella so often?

I work with him for two reasons: one, he always invited me to work with him on his projects and two, I always enjoy working with him. Every time he invites me I know I am guaranteed to have a good time, and express myself as an artist. Plus, it’s great to spend time with him. We are good friends, but we don’t get to see each other that often, normally just when we work.

Campanella told me he thinks you are the best actor to fill his roles, primarily because they are often reflections of himself. Do you agree?

He is very generous when he speaks about me, and in general. He seems to be more concentrated on my career than I am! I owe a lot of my career to the fact that he always thinks about me. And I try to return the favor when I work with him. He is a pleasure to work with always, because he enjoys the interaction with actors, which is not common. As an actor, this is the ideal situation to try and create a new character. When I work with Campanella it’s an easy process because, as he told you, he often thinks about me when he writes. If it is a writer always writing different characters, it would be different, but I know with Campanella his point of view will almost always be from someone who is a common Argentine citizen. In each story and each film, he tries to present a different point of view, but it will always be coming from his experiences and knowledge, which are similar to mine. But with other directors, like Fabian Bielinsky -- who was a great director and a dear friend with whom I worked with several times and who unfortunately died a few years ago -- I now realize since he is gone that the things he wanted me to do as an actor are completely different from the road that I take with Juan Campanella. Bielinsky always looked for my dark side. Campanella looks for my bright side. So working with these two great directors always forced me to look into different aspects of myself.

Why do you think “The Secret in Their Eyes” is such a big hit?

I think it is for a variety of reasons. It is an interesting story, well-written, with very good characters. The second is that it is well-directed and well-produced. Third, and this has to do with the audience, but I think there are social ideas and issues that the film deals with, both directly and indirectly, that are very important to all Argentines, and are a part of our social climate, and our recent past. So these factors have made it successful, and made all Argentines, myself included, proud that a movie of this quality could be made here in Argentina by Argentines.

Forgive my need to compare you to an American, but in many ways you remind me of Tom Hanks. What do you think of that comparison?

First, thank you for the comparison, because Tom Hanks is one of the actors that I most admire. In addition, I think your observation is very intelligent and I agree. But I don’t want to sound like a jerk when I say this, but I am just looking for a technical way to explain why I agree with you. For me, Hanks is an actor that I admire a lot for his sense of humor and intelligence. I have always liked his subtlety. He can do anything as an actor. He can do a drama or comedy just as much as an action film. There are good actors, and bad actors. And then there are comedians! They can do anything. Tom Hanks is one of those. You made my day with that compliment. Thank you, Brian.

What did you think of “Criminal,” the U.S. remake of “Nueve Reinas?”

I don’t have a good opinion of it. And I’ll tell you the reasons why. We were very anxious and excited to see the film. We really wanted to see how they interpreted our film. The first problem is where they choose to set the film. The story takes place in a chaotic urban city, and when they chose Los Angeles, I think they were wrong. It’s a urban story about people who get around on foot, who walk the streets, not who drive around in cars and, as we all know, Los Angeles is a car city. It would have been better in New York or Chicago. The two main characters are not the brightest guys, they are just street thieves. So this was the first error. The second is the casting. I admire John C. Reilly a lot and also Diego Luna. But in this particular case, my character needed to have more of a shady face, and the other character needed to have an angel face, and I don’t think with these actors they chose well. So there were complications. And we really had high hopes for this big American production.

Another thing that called my attention was that after Bielinsky sold the right to “Nueve Reinas” to make “Criminal” -- even though he didn’t gain hardly any money from it because he had already sold the rights to the producer -- he didn’t have any rights as the writer. But one detail that called my attention was that he wasn’t allowed to go visit the set in Los Angeles. He wanted to go and help collaborate with the crew. He spoke and wrote English very well, so he wanted to offer his help with the project. But the response he got from the producers was no. Not only did they not authorize him to visit the set, but they also told him not to even go near it! He couldn’t believe it! So I think after everything I just told you, you can understand why my opinion of the film isn’t very good.

Photos courtesy of 100 Bares.


El Marpla said...

Great interview, thanks for sharing

Prajna Paramita said...

Excellent interview.