The Source Magazine had the opportunity to speak with legendary Mexican actor and Academy Award nominee Demián Bichir about his latest role Mr. Fontaine in Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway,” which is now playing.
Read our exclusive interview below:
Q: How did you get involved with “Dom Hemingway”?
Bichir: I was lucky to get an invitation from Richard Shepard and I said yes right away. I saw “Matador” way back a long time ago and then I loved the script and the character and the fact that Jude Law was going to be playing Dom Hemingway. All that made my decision very easy.
Q: You mention Jude Law. Almost all of your scenes you’re acting alongside him and Richard Grant, can you talk about the experience of working with them?
Bichir: Absolutely, I was looking forward to that meeting because I grew up in the theatre and we all know that British actors are all so well trained and most of them come from the theatre also, so I was very curious to see what the process was going to be like and I found everything I was expecting. I thought two very committed actors, very much into the work, not wasting any time and being very focused and it was a joy. All that work, all that previous work even before shooting…the working on the table reading, finding this character’s relationship and also rehearsing, blocking the scenes and shooting and all that. That process was a lot of fun, it was a joy. It’s what every actor’s looking for.
Q: Your character, Mr. Fontaine, he’s not as vocal Dom, but it seemed like he was a lot of fun to play. Can you talk about getting into the mindset and what it was like to play him?
Bichir: Oh absolutely! We decided to make him Russian because he was going to be a lot more interesting than someone who has been on the run for so many years ended up being Mr. Fontaine instead of his real name, Ivan Anatolievich Fontanov, and so we had a lot of fun planning that and doing that. Just a man who is suave, you know, just this guy who is elegant and who has done well. And now he has this beautiful, beautiful house with this gorgeous woman on his side and everything is getting ready to…you know, pay back time. Because if he is alive and wealthy and happy it is because Dom Hemingway stayed 12 years in jail with his mouth shut. So now it’s time to, you know, get this reunion and see what happens. Some lines are crossed so that’s sometimes not good.
Q: You mention the lifestyle that he lives. Can you talk about acting in that scene with those three gigantic monkey pictures surrounding you all?
Bichir: That was a fantastic analogy about how these three monkeys are us, you know what I mean? It’s like … we’re apes in many ways and of course Dom Hemingway is one of them. It was fantastic. It was really rewarding for an actor to play such a long scene, like a nine minute long scene not stopping and doing it over and over again with different approaches and different positions, different camera positions and we spent a lot of time preparing and shooting that and it was great, you know. It was a lot of fun.
Q: You spoke about how you’ve seen Richard Shepard’s film “The Matador.” Can you talk about getting a chance to work with him and just what did you love about the screenplay?
Bichir: I thought it was different. I love new directors, I always love to meet a new director as an audience or as an actor. When I saw “The Matador” I thought it was very, very interesting and the story was fantastic and the fact that it was shot in Mexico and so…it was very appealing. And then I got to meet him and when I read the script I thought it was something I had never read before. And it was, of course…I was dying to see what Jude Law was going to do with the character because when I read it I thought that this was perfect for him because this is something that he’s never done before yet and he’s gonna cause a revolution almost! And I was very, very happy with the result of the whole thing when I saw it put together at Toronto Film Festival. And I think he’s a fine, fine director and I believe that directors who write their own material are very interesting and always you have to follow to see what they do next.
Q: Your career has been interesting with “A Better Life” getting you big recognition around Hollywood and in the states, and you’ve done films like “Savages,” “The Heat,” and now you’re on the FX series, “The Bridge.” Can you talk about what it’s been like working in American television in comparison to Hollywood and British cinema?
Bichir: Well, you know, I’ve been lucky to do films in English and in Los Angeles and TV in the U.S. or films everywhere and all I can say is that it is the same anywhere. Films are the same, and the process of theatre is pretty much the same way. The things that change have to do with budget, have to do with a healthy, rich type of budget will give you more weeks to shoot a film. But I grew up making films in the independent world, so we’re used to getting it done quickly and that’s the way I was trained as an actor and TV is a different animal. But I’m ready to play on any ground because I adapt very easily and it all has to do with the project. It all comes down to the character and the people involved. I can transition from one place to another easily because I’ve done it all and I feel comfortable in any medium.
Q: What’s next for you?
Bichir: I’m finishing editing a film that I just directed.
Q: Oh wow!
Bichir: Yeah, we shot that in Mexico and in New Orleans and it’s gonna be ready sometime in September I think. We just began the second season of “The Bridge,” that will take us all the way to mid-July. And then I will probably go back to theatre in Mexico in a play directed by my father with my brothers on the same stage. That’s something that is really exciting. And then some other things that we’re only thinking or talking about.
Read our review of the film here: http://thesource.com/2014/04/02/film-review-dom-hemingway/