The stars of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Mexican hit Rudo Y Cursi talk botherly love
They broke through in 2001 with Y tu mama tambien, and now lifelong friends Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna have scored one of Mexico’s biggest-ever box-office hits with Rudo y Cursi. Paul Byrne feels the love.
Having first worked together on the 1992 Mexican TV series El abuelo y yo when they were barely in their teens, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna have survived child stardom, early flops and international fame largely because they’ve lived through it all together.
“We both came from families involved in this business,” says Luna today, “so, even as young boys, we were very aware of how tough a life it can be. To have someone with you from the very start, through the hard times and the amazing highs, that’s pretty amazing. Gael is like a brother to me…”
Which is handy, because the two guys sitting in front of me in London’s Soho Hotel play brothers in the very fine, and very funny, Rudo y Cursi, Luna playing the former and Bernal the latter, a pair of dirtpoor Mexicans who find fame, fortune and, ultimately, failure when they each end up star football players in Mexico’s First Division.
Written and director by Carlos Cuaron (who wrote Y tu mama tambien, directed by his famous brother, Alfonso), Rudo y Cursi is currently the third-biggest grossing movie of all time in Mexico. Which might explain why its two leading men are in such a giddy mood today.
Then again, the fact that both have become fathers in the last year – Jeronimo Luna born on August 12th last year; Lazaro Bernal on January 8th this year – might also have something to do with the duo’s sunny disposition.
PAUL BYRNE: Friends since childhood, so, playing brothers – even bickering ones – must have been easy.
GAEL GARCIA BERNAL: Yeah…
DIEGO LUNA: It was kind of easy, and when we had trouble, we just looked at Alfonso and Carlos. They’re like Rudo and Cursi – they’re perfect for this. A perfect example. They’re always fighting…
GGB: Whenever we didn’t get the sibling rivalry, we were always thinking, ‘What would Alfonso and Carlos do in this situation?’…
DL: Exactly, yeah [laughs]…
Have you ever suffered the kind of sibling rivalry on display in Rudo y Cursi? Any jealousy? Envy?
DL: Every director that has worked with Gael, I give them a call at the end; ‘How was it?’…
DL: ‘You could have been with me!’. No, come on, there’s no rivalry. We’re friends. It’s actually the opposite way around – it’s really nice to know you have someone you really like, you care for, you respect, and he’s going through a process like yours. And you can chat, and discuss what’s going on, and have a little help, sometimes.
What about the pressure of having the Y tu mama tambien reunion – feel any pressure to live up to that film?
GGB: From us, rather than from outside, yeah. We wanted to make something special, something that would lead into experimenting with things that we wouldn’t do on our own, or do with other people. And I think we tried out a few things. The tone of the film has a very specific tone that we created, and universe of the film, it was very interesting to be able to create something, and risk a lot by doing it. If we weren’t together, really, we wouldn’t have dared do it. That’s where the pressure came…
DL: Yeah, I think, obviously, the first day or two, there was a lot of thinking about Y tu mama tambien, and how great it was, but as soon as we started this process, it was tough enough. There was a lot to do, a lot of work, and a great crew. We had amazing people joining us, like the production designer, or the DP. They were new people that were not in Y tu mama tambien, so, instantly, it was like very special because of this film, not because of what happened before.
Has becoming a father changed the picture, and the pictures, for either of you?
DL: It makes a difference, not just in your work. Every decision, there’s something more important than anything else there to consider, always, and it’s part of you now. But this film was shot when we were not fathers, and at least I wasn’t planning to be, and this is probably the last film that will have that actor. Because now, definitely, I’m a different person.
Your characters in this film succumb, in different ways, to the fame game – since you became famous, have either of you ever caught yourself being a bit of an asshole?
DL: I’m just kidding [laughs].
GGB: No, it’s more in the aspect of being scared of fame. But they don’t get scared about it.
GGB: But we got a little bit scared of it, a few times, and I think you just keep on doing that. You’re always a little bit scared of it. But it’s part of life. It’s very different also, having fame from doing what one likes doing. It’s very different to being famous for something you don’t enjoy…
DL: Fame and attention are not the same, and when your work has the attention of an audience, it’s amazing. To know that, it’s something to feel honoured, something to be proud of, you know. But the fame these guys go through, that is cheesy, horrible, and painful.