The Mexican blockbuster Rudo y Cursi is the first film that Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal have costarred in since Y Tu Mama Tambien, the much acclaimed 2001 indie coming-of-age film that simultaneously put Mexican cinema on the Hollywood circuit and catapulted these childhood friends into stardom. The film also marks the first release by Cha Cha Cha Films, the production company founded by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros, Babel), and Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien). Not coincidentally, Rudo y Cursi is directed by Carlos Cuaron, Alfonso’s brother. In the film, Garcia Bernal and Luna star as stepbrothers who quit their farm jobs to play professional soccer in Mexico City, where hilarity ensues. We recently talked to Luna–who presents his new film tomorrow, along with Garcia Bernal, at a Museum of Moving Image-sponsored screening at the AMC Loews on 19th Steet–about his experience making this rags-to-riches dramedy and the enduring, dynamic bond between him and his best friend.
You and Gael Garcia Bernal are sort of the Mexican version of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
[Laughs] I hate when…I would hate to think that way. Wait a second–my baby is eating the menu from the hotel.
Uh no. So…
So you don’t like that comparison?
No. In Mexico, you’re always asked where the other is, like if you’re by yourself then you are nothing. That happens a lot. Or they believe that I know where he is all the time and he knows where I am all the time. And that I can have conversations that he’s had with someone else and the other way around, like they see us as if we’re twins, like we’re attached.
Gael does a hysterical Spanish cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” in the film. What song would you choose to cover?
Uh, whoa [laughs]. I wouldn’t do that to the audience. I think that would be very disrespectful to the people, and I do care about the audience.
Well, if you had to pick a song?
Ok, well, if I had to pick: “Sympathy For The Devil” by the Rolling Stones.
Would you like to sing some of it now?
No way. No, really I don’t do that to my son and he is eight months old. No way.
You and Gael play brothers who live in a very remote village in Mexico. The Spanish dialect has a very fast pronunciation. What region did you base it out of?
Lets say we invented a little bit on the accent. It’s based on what happened in the region, which is on the Pacific Coast, and in the state of Jalisco. But the name of the village in the movie, if you look on the map, it doesn’t exist. So we had the chance to come up with the accent we wanted to do. And we had to find one that was easy for everyone. We had actors coming from all over Mexico and people from the town. It’s based on the Coast with a little touch of the north and we talked to some of the actors from that area and they agreed that it should sound like this or like that. So yeah, based on Jalisco and Nayarit.
The title of the film is the nicknames of the two characters. You’re Rudo, meaning tough, while Gael’s name, Cursi, means corny. They’re real trashy sorts, country boys. In Spanish, people would call them nacos–tacky, new money guys.
I think naco is just about bad taste. It’s about no education. A naco can be very rich. I would say there are a lot of nacos that have a lot of money. These guys come from a town that if you compare them to anyone in the rest of the town they are pretty normal. Like for example, a naco is the one has the little dancer that moves every time the car moves. A naco is the one that has red velvet instead of normal carpet. Rudo and Cursi are not that–until they become rich, anyway.
Fans of Y Tu Mama Tambien have been waiting for you and Gael to be in another film together for a while. What was that pressure like?
I think the biggest pressure was the one that came was from us, from the team, the producer and director. Because when we decided to do this film and go so far with the characters, to play these guys that are so far away from where we come from, I think that was a big pressure. We could have gone safer and played something closer to us. The same with the film: we were working with a first time director. It would have been safer to go with a guy who has done plenty of films.
But once we started shooting, the pressure became exactly the opposite. I enjoy so much working with him and it’s amazing to work with someone that knows you that well. Whenever you need a little push or little help–we are there for each other. And that is something that cannot happen every time you work. I am not saying that I haven’t worked with generous actors. What I am saying is that when it’s your best friend, it’s something special. Sometimes I was really so scared to play Rudo and I felt so far away from this guy and I would think I wasn’t going to be able to make it, and if he was not there I probably would have quit. But just the feeling of him being there believing I could do it made me strong enough. And I know something similar happened to him.
Rudo y Cursi screens Wednesday, May 6, at 7pm, AMC Loews, 890 Broadway, $12.