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Gael schools on 'Bad'

photo courtesy of 20TH CENTURY FOX
"Bad Education" - Gael García Bernal stars as a hot crossdressing dude who reunites with a longtime friend. Since this film is rated NC-17, show The Man who's boss by bootlegging it and showing young children.
By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 17, 2005
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If you slapped some fake tits on him, then dolled him up in a wig and makeup, Gael García Bernal would be just as hot as a woman. Fortunately, he's still all man after filming "Bad Education," in which he plays a gender-bending director trying to turn a friend's traumatic childhood into a film.

At 27, Bernal is a rarity in cinema, rising to fame and heartthrob status by acting exclusively in Spanish-language films. He banged his brother's wife in "Amores Perros," had a three-way with his real-life best friend in "Y Tú Mamá También" and played a seductive priest in "El Crimen del Padre Amaro."

While his last film, "The Motorcycle Diaries," didn't deal with sexual themes, "Bad Education" marks his return to screen sex.

"It's always kind of strange to do the sex scenes," he said. "Whether it's a man or a woman. It's actually worse when you really like the girl because, for the man, he gets really nervous. But it's actually easier to do it with another actor than doing it with your best friend."

Teaming up with Pedro Almodóvar ("Talk To Her") for "Bad Education" was a life- and image-changing experience for Bernal, but he has trouble talking much about the film for fear of giving anything away.

"It's three characters: an actor who tries to pretend to be another person, and that person pretends to have a job as another actor and so he dresses up. ... It's kind of weird to explain," Bernal said.

Having worked with a slew of other talented Hispanic directors, Bernal said he admires the Spanish-born Almodóvar because "he never compromises his vision."

"He's like one of the last living legends of modern cinema perhaps," Bernal said. "He's had an incredible, incredible, incredible career. It's pretty hard today, especially in filmmaking, to not compromise your point of view. And he hasn't done that."

Prior to filming, Almodóvar was also very exact and demanding during rehearsals with the actors.

"He was very, very specific, incredibly specific of the world he wanted to create and what he wanted you to do," Bernal said.

However, he said there is a lot of freedom and trust in Almodóvar's methods.

"It might seem from a distance that you're very constrained because you're doing exactly what he wants you to do," Bernal said. "And the things that you're doing you wouldn't dare do with other directors."

Now that "Bad Education" has finally been released to wider audiences in the United States, it just gives fans all the more reason to lust after Bernal, who is humbly taking his success in stride.

"I never ever thought of these films being seen all over the world," he said. "So I definitely think I have a responsibility I think with Latin America. I want to keep on doing films there."

Because making films in Mexico is not as easy to do financially as it is in the United States and other countries, Bernal said there really is no such thing as "independent" or "mainstream" films. Due to the lack of resources and infrastructure, filmmakers make films with what they have.

"It's a bit fucked up because, how do you deal with it?" he said. "How do you make it better? It's like we're trying to make films that are very successful, but it's still very hard to make your next film."

Despite the difficulty many directors face, Bernal believes great ideas and teamwork help transcend the poverty and create cinematic gems.

"That's the kind of purity they have," Bernal said, "just because they're people working with no money trying to tell a story."

Choosing potential filmmakers to work with in the future is forbidden fruit for Bernal.

"Oh man, to choose is to resign," he said. "I don't want to piss away maybe a director I would love to work with."

Bernal is currently working with French film genius Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") in "The Science of Sleep," which is scheduled to open later this year.

"I'm really excited to work with him also because he's a very peculiar and very unique director with a very personal point of view," Bernal said. "I welcome that experience a lot. It's very exciting to go and work in France. It's something I never thought was going to ever happen in my life."

This year, he will also appear in "The King" with William Hurt, another English-language film.

While doing theater in Mexico, he said he never imagined traveling to different parts of the world to act.

"It's really exciting because you learn a lot from it," he said. "You learn, not only about the craft and everything, but you learn about ... everything."

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