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Seizing the Moment with Gael García Bernal

Seizing the Moment with Gael García Bernal…


That’s how Gael García Bernal describes his new movie, Coco, which opens nationwide November 22. He is sitting at the end of the long table, answering a barrage of questions from two dozen female bloggers. The energy is buzzing, but he stays focused on speaking from the heart about his experience working on the film that takes place on Dia de Los Muertos.

Gael García Bernal. Photo credit: Sylvia Martinez, MamaLatinaTips.com

“Si, transversal, transversal,” he says earnestly as he holds a paper cup containing his hot tea. “It invites a very personal point of view, you know, the Day of the Dead because it’s a reflection on death and nobody has the definite answer on what happens after (he chuckles) after you die, no?  So, it is a reflection on death that we all engage in it on a very personal level.”

RELATED: Q&A with Benjamin Bratt from Coco 

Stepping into the hat of Hector

We know the 38-year-old actor from films such as Y Tu Mamá También, Mozart in the Jungle, The Motorcycle Diaries, and dozens of other English and Spanish-language movies, but not as a comedic animated character. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the actor is often associated with roles where he plays a handsome and mysterious charmer.

But not in Coco.


When the filmmakers approached him to voice the character of Hector, a goofy personality from the Land of the Dead, Bernal eagerly accepted. The animated skeleton version of Bernal sports raggedy jeans, a crooked straw hat and is disrespected by just about everyone in his hood.

Hector, as it turns out, is a character with many layers. They aren’t visible early in the film, but as the story progresses, so does Hector’s true motives for wanting to get back to the Land of the Living. He grows on you and will kidnap your emotions long after the credits roll.

Seize the moment – or nah?

This aligns perfectly with Bernal, as he is someone who seeks deeper meaning in life.

One of the popular phrases in the film is when Miguel’s hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. proclaims “Seize the Moment!” It sets little Miguel off on his journey to find the perfect moment to seize. But to Bernal, the phrase isn’t as empowering.

Gael Garcia Bernal as Hector in Coco. Photo by Sylvia Martinez, MamaLatinaTips.com

“Well, this is a very personal opinion about seizing the moment,” he says. “I think it has been one of the most damaging aspects of western society you know, the notion of seizing the moment.”

All activity in the interview room stopped as we all waited to hear his explanation.

“It has made us burn the forests that we have in front of us, you know, it has made us live the now as if there was no tomorrow,” he says. “As if we’re not engaging with a responsibility that freedom gives us to know that there’s a future. And there are people that will come after. It is not a rush, life is more, it’s more a craft…”

Rather than seizing the moment, we should be seizing long-term life. Did your heart just melt too? I realized this man wasn’t just an actor, but a humanitarian. He truly thinks – and loves –  on a bigger scale. 

“Seizing the moment sometimes makes you fall into a trap that it is now or never,” he says. “And there’s moments that it is now or never but you know when that is. It’s not that there’s a rule that you have to follow that path. And it is interesting that in the film, it kind of comes in play.”

Working with his daughter

But he can’t deny there was a moment he seized for the sake of Coco. His little daughter has a singing cameo in the movie! And when he felt nervous about stepping in front of the mic to record Hector’s various songs, knowing she was there helped ease his nerves.

COCO (Pictured) – UN POCO LOCO – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with a charming trickster named Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal) to unravel a generations-old family mystery. Their extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead includes an unexpected talent show performance of “Un Poco Loco,” an original song in the son jarocho style of Mexican music written by co-director Adrian Molina and Germaine Franco for the film. “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“This is gonna be something that my daughter one day will see when she’s, I don’t know, sixty,” he says. “And it will be really, really fun to her to remember and to hear ourselves. It was such a great opportunity.”

RELATED: My 2004 interview with Gael for Motorcycle Diaries!


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9 thoughts on “Seizing the Moment with Gael García Bernal”

  1. It’s so great to be able to see a movie on the big screen celebrating Mexican traditions. And knowing that so many of the people who worked on the film are also of Mexican descent. Gael was a fantastic addition to the cast.

  2. It is awesome to see Pixar come out with a movie that showcases Mexican culture. They have done a lot of research to make this film epic! Great cast and the visuals look stunning! I would love the pin, thanks for the chance!

  3. I am looking forward to seeing Coco! I love the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. I wish more cultures would honor their lost loved ones like this. They should be celebrated and remembered with fun and awesome memories. I hope Coco embraces all the love and respect they deserve.

  4. I’m excited to see Pixar Coco because… there are just so many things! But one is to see my family represented in all the vibrancy, color and noise that is created when we are together!!! I’m lucky enough, due to unforeseen circumstance, that my parents will be here to watch it with me since they live in California! This will be a moment I remember.

  5. I’m eager to see Coco because I’ve always been fascinated with Mexican art, music and culture. I can’t wait to be immersed in what looks to be a gorgeous-to-look-at film with a moving story.

  6. Just saw Coco this morning – amazingly brilliant on so many levels – agree with all previous commenters – I walked away feeling as though I didn’t just see a movie, but rather went on a journey to another world, one that I cannot wait to go back to! I do declare it to rival the best of any Disney production, it is on par with, and may very well replace my favorite movie of all time, The WIzard of Oz! Will definitely endeavor to see it again and again – much love to everyone involved in the making of an outstanding piece of cinematic splendor!


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