A Tribute to Gael Garcia Bernal: The Rise and Journey of an Inspirational Star

Photo: Gael Garcia Bernal/Shutterstock

Mexican Cinema has been referred to as the Hollywood of Latin America many, many times. Rightfully so, quite a few actors have emerged from the Mexican film industry, making a smooth transition into the international world of Cinema. One of those actors is the widely known and extremely talented Gael Garcia Bernal. 

Gael Garcia has been part of several Hollywood productions, often representing Latin, more specifically Mexican culture. His incredible talent has landed him roles with Hollywood’s most prestigious networks and directors. His acting repertoire expands with over 60 credits.  

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Gael Garcia Bernal was born into a family of artists in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco. At a very young age, Gael was introduced into the world of acting, thanks to his family’s artistic endeavors. His first appearance was in Mexican television; Gael was part of the cast of a Telenovela, where Salma Hayek was playing the lead. At the tender age of eleven, he landed the lead role in a children’s Telenovela called ‘El Abuelo y Yo,” (My grandpa and I) along with Mexican Telenovela actress Ludwika Paleta. After his Television journey, Gael Garcia decided to leave Mexico and attend Drama school, becoming the first Mexican to win a full scholarship at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Prior to graduating, Gael Garcia booked the role that would change his whole life. Talk about overachievers! 

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‘Amores Perros’

Gael Garcia had just started his life as a student in London when he received a call from Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu asking him to audition. Iñarritu was developing his first feature film, ‘Amores Perros,’ and was looking for an actor that could embody the role of Octavio. At the time, Iñarritu was still not the hot-shot director he is now, but Gael Garcia liked the script and sent in the tape. Gael Garcia’s talent landed him the role, and although he was still in school, he traveled back home to shoot Iñarritu’s exciting vision. Of course, young Gael wasn’t ready for the thunderstorm of success that was going to hit ‘Amores Perros.’ 

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‘Amores Perros’ is a film that digs deeply into the themes of fate and death. It tells the story of three different groups of people and how their life choices lead them towards a fatal car crash. Several references to men’s relationships with dogs and violence are made throughout the film. It touches upon some engrossing motifs like ephemeral beauty and the immediate urge for disloyalty birthed in the human race. I also believe that there is some element of skepticism towards innocence mixed in there as well. ‘Amores Perros‘ is a solid and violent story that makes you think quite a lot, probably the reason it got so much attention.   

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‘Amores Perros’ was selected for the Critic’s Week at the Cannes Film Festival of 2000. Imagine how a twenty-two-year-old Mexican kid felt while walking the red carpet with the most prestigious people in the film industry. Gael Garcia often tells the story, where he recounts his feelings on that day, how nervous and in awe he was of being part of that film festival. He often recalls how further away his expectations in life were before his experience in Cannes. His original plan was to move to London and work for a theater company that would allow him to work in Mexico. But fate is a mysterious thing, and ‘Amores Perros’ was only the tip of this enormous mountain of success that Gael Garcia would embark on. ‘Amores Perros’ won the prize for Critics of the week at the Cannes Film Festival, and the film was then nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2000. ‘Amores Perros’ lead the way to Garcia’s next film, also a success, with another future Mexican icon, Alfonso Cuaron‘s ‘Y Tu Mamá También.’ (And Your Mother Too)

‘Y Tu Mamá También’

‘Y Tu Mamá También’ was Gael Garcia’s second film. The fact that this film was also an incredible success speaks loudly about his talent and taste. ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay, and also was nominated for a Golden Globe for best foreign-language film. 

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‘Amores Perros’ and ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ gave Gael Garcia Bernal unbelievable exposure, making his subsequent roles as good as the first ones. Gael Garcia seems to have an eye for the perfect script and always finds deeper connections in his characters. A few known roles of Gael are, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries,‘ based on the life of Argentinian revolutionary “Che Guevara.” ‘Neruda,’ based on Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and the beautiful Disney animated film ‘Coco‘ where Gael Garcia decided to expand his skills and become the voice of Hector. 

Most recently, Gael Garcia is part of the new film by prestigious American Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, ‘Old.’ The film was released this weekend, and people are raving. Apparently, there is an insane plot twist, as to be expected from M. Night Shyamalan. Watch the movie and then tell me what you think, anyway, back to Gael Garcia. 

A Voice for Many

Gael Garcia has always been aware of the incredible power he holds. Being mindful of his enormous platform, Gael has always been remarkably vocal about his political stances and ideals. He is consistently fighting back to tell the stories of those who are often unheard of. 

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Gael Garcia has taken the time to speak up in interviews about current political situations, speaking truthfully and intelligently about immigration, and recently had thrown awareness towards femicides, the intentional murder of women for being women, in Mexico. His chosen roles often portray the truth behind the political realities of Latin America. 

Gael Garcia Bernal is an actor who has accomplished much success throughout his life. But I believe his success has gone beyond the superficial. After getting to know him through his work and watching the many interviews throughout the years, it is safe to assume that for him, filmmaking is so much more than spotlights and red carpets. Filmmaking is the stories he can tell, the people he can influence, and the lives he can change with his art. 

By Ana Cobo

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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