After numerous starring roles in telenovelas as a child, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal crossed over to American audiences in riveting performances in 2000's 'Amores Perros' and 2001's 'Y Tu Mamá También.'

Since then, the actor has forged a fearless resumé, portraying a consummate dreamer in Michel Gondry's 'The Science of Sleep,' Che Guevara in both 'Fidel' and 'The Motorcycle Diaries,' and three characters (including a cross-dresser) in Pedro Almodóvar's 'Bad Education.'

In his latest film, 'Mammoth,' García Bernal plays Leo Vidales, a wealthy video game developer who travels to Thailand for business while doctor wife Michelle Williams struggles with the pressures of her job. The film, hopping from New York to The Philippines to Thailand, is a controversial, poignant look at globalization and its effects on various families. We chatted with the actor while he was on location in Bolivia filming 'También la lluvia.'
After numerous starring roles in telenovelas as a child, Mexican actor Gael García Bernal crossed over to American audiences in riveting performances in 2000's 'Amores Perros' and 2001's 'Y Tu Mamá También.'

Since then, the actor has forged a fearless resumé, portraying a consummate dreamer in Michel Gondry's 'The Science of Sleep,' Che Guevara in both 'Fidel' and 'The Motorcycle Diaries,' and three characters (including a cross-dresser) in Pedro Almodóvar's 'Bad Education.'

In his latest film, 'Mammoth,' García Bernal plays Leo Vidales, a wealthy video game developer who travels to Thailand for business while doctor wife Michelle Williams struggles with the pressures of her job. The film, hopping from New York to The Philippines to Thailand, is a controversial, poignant look at globalization and its effects on various families. We chatted with the actor while he was on location in Bolivia filming 'También la lluvia.'

In 'Mammoth,' you play a wealthy a video game developer who originally travels to Thailand to sell the company. Was this how it was scripted or did you have to develop the role yourself?
It wasn't written in the script. It was a more grown-up man that was going through a middle-age crisis. All of a sudden, I think because [director Lukas Moodysson] imagined me and [Michelle Williams] playing those parts, he changed it. He developed the whole story and decided it was more fun that the couple was young and wanted to find out what the job of this guy would be so they were very rich. So he invented this site that is the Myspace for games. Maybe that thing exists already, I'm not sure. But I had to jump into the world of video games. I wasn't a big video game fan, but I started to see how much work goes into it and started to quite enjoy the stories behind the games rather than the games themselves.

There's a prominent theme of "tourist guilt" in the film concerning people who travel to third world countries for vacation.
Yeah, the characters are living in a bubble and they travel with the bubble when they go away and find this guilt that in most situations in the film is depicted a bit ridiculously. We wanted to play these characters like they were scared of what was happening to them, but we knew that it could have many different layers. Some people might think that this is a solid piece of melodrama. But to be honest, we wanted to go forward and exploit the fear they have had; to expose them. Some people might read it as ridiculous, but some people might identify and therefore be provoked by it, for good or for worse. It was a big risk because it's not typical in film that we can have this very subtle lecture that people are going to react strongly against and for.


At the Berlin Film Festival, the audience booed at the end. What did you think of that?
It was a very interesting position to be in. In any other situation, I would imagine I'd feel quite upset, but there, I was so confident about the job that we did that in a way, I understand the booing. There are two worlds: the people that want to see films to see reality and people that want to see fiction. I think the film was seen by people who mostly wanted to see reality and of course, it being a fiction, the reality is always going to be controversial. It's not going to appease everyone because this film is such a personal point of view. I think that's why it got this reaction, but this situation is a good thing because it actually makes it worthwhile to do such a film that is so controversial. It doesn't have to do with the making of the film. By booing, most people say more about themselves than about the film.

Looking back at your career so far, you've mostly opted for smaller, independent films versus any traditional blockbusters. Was this a conscious choice?
It's not that I have made a choice not to do this or that, so it's not that I've said no to things. It's always that I've ended up wanting to do something else and that has made me go into a certain direction. But who knows where it leads? I prefer not to give much thought about it because it's just about doing what you like, so where I'm at is a big privilege. It's much better to just trust that doing what I like is going to lead me somewhere to be happy.

You directed your first film, 'Deficit,' in 2007. Do you have more respect for the directors you work with now after that experience?
Yeah, definitely. Everything changed. It's such an experience that it changes your approach to cinema and the way you see films is completely different. It's one of those jobs that you do once and you immediately want to do it again. There's nothing concrete now, but I hope to do more in the future. If it's directed [by me], though, you definitely won't see "Starring Gael Garcia Bernal."