December 20, 2014
Darío Grandinetti, actorTuesday, March 25, 2014
‘In television there’s never enough time to play very different roles ’
For the Herald
Born in 1959, Rosario.
Education: no academic background in acting, some seminars with renowned drama teachers.
Most celebrated works: Televisión por la inclusión (TV), El cartero, Darse cuenta, Una relación pornográfica (theatre), El lado oscuro del corazón, Hable con ella (cinema). First Argentine actor to win an International Emmy Award.
Newspapers: Página 12, Tiempo Argentino.
The recently released Argentine-Spanish co-production Inevitable, by Spanish director Jorge Algora, and based on Mario Diament’s play Cita a ciegas, spins the tale of a bank executive facing a mid-life crisis after a work mate dies of a heart attack. Argentine actor Darío Grandinetti, who plays the lead, spoke to the Herald at the Multiplex Belgrano movie theatre in a most friendly and unruffled manner — despite having been stuck in an awful traffic jam right on his way to the interview.
What was your first impression of the screenplay of Inevitable?
For starters, I’d read the play before. I liked the idea of playing the lead because he’s a character quite different from what I’d done lately in cinema. A guy with a strange personality. And since I already knew the ending, as I read the script I realized he was a guy who gave no clues as to what was going to happen next. I liked that, it’s a very rich character for an actor.
Let’s go back thirty years. Alejandro Doria’s Darse cuenta (1984) was your film debut. How do you remember that experience?
I knew I was being a part of something big. And it happened very unexpectedly. There I was, in a cast with big names, all of them. I felt I had an enormous responsibility. I was very grateful to Alejandro, and also felt the need to rise to the occasion.
Did you imagine it would be such a success?
You can never imagine what ends up happening with these kinds of movies that transcend their times. You do things wishing something like would happen but you know it’s very difficult. It didn’t even cross my mind. Now I know these things can happen, but only because they did happen. It’s true that you always want people to see what you do, but that’s not what drives your work.
What drives yours?
To grow as an actor. To tell stories that are worth telling. Think that cinema is a very difficult business.
Because it takes a lot of money, time and energy. And then if a film doesn’t work out, it’s very frustrating for everyone involved. So I think you have to be very cautious with the stories you tell. You can’t make cinema to say nonsense.
What type of cinema do you like?
Films that invite you to visit an unknown neighbourhood. I don’t need big revelations or enlightening truths, but I want to be taken to a new and kind place. A very well crafted film that tells me a tale I already know doesn’t make sense to me.
Would that be the equivalent of an actor with a very good technique, but no personality?
Exactly. An actor who doesn’t surprise because you already know what he’s going to do.
Is it easy to become such an actor?
Well ... yes.
Because, in general, they call you to do what you’ve already done very well.
So what do you do?
I’ve always tried to avoid it. It’s easier to play different roles in cinema and in theatre, but not in television. So you can easily fall into a routine. There’s never enough time in television, so you do what you already know how to do. You have to get the job done in very little time with what you have here and now.
Would that be more of a challenge then?
No, I’d rather not use what I’m already familiar with.
You are an actor without a strong academic background. Why?
The thing is I started working in television quite often. I had to quit my job as a civil servant and had no time to take drama classes. However, I took some seminars with great teachers. I admired and enjoyed their classes, and learnt very useful things that I still use today. But I never felt I could say I was a disciple of this or that actor, because I’m not. I would be bragging.
What are the cons of having pursued your career this way?
I’d say the cons include not having a theoretical background on many important authors, not being able to talk with enough competence about, let’s say, Shakespeare, not having a technique, and, above all, not knowing my tools more in depth.
And the pros?
I don’t know if there any are real pros in not being an actor with an academic background, but I guess I could say I had the chance to work a lot with great actors from the very start. So you learn by doing. I’ve seen actors with many years of schooling having a very hard time at actually working on stage for a real audience. I didn’t even have time to be afraid of what the real stuff was like in comparison to where I was coming from, because I wasn’t coming from anywhere.
It’s either one or the other?
Not necessarily, maybe I could have done both things. I didn’t know how to make them compatible. Didn’t know or didn’t want to.
How did you feel working for Pedro Almodóvar?
I’d never made a film being as relaxed as I was while shooting Hable con ella (Talk to Her). He was a director who knew what he wanted and I had the freedom to make all kinds of suggestions, with no fear at all, even if he said “no.” And he would say “no.” But he would explain why not. It was a very smooth experience.
Let’s talk about the Emmy Award you won for your participation in Televisión por la inclusión. You said you didn’t prepare a speech because you didn’t think you were going to win. Why?
Because... I don’t know, I just never thought I was going to win. When I found out there was an English actor nominated, I thought he was going to win, for sure. English actors always win. Then there was a very good Norwegian actor, also suave and enticing. So I thought he would win. Either the Norwegian or the Englishman. Then when Cristina (Banegas) won her Emmy, I thought there was no way I was going to get one too. But I did. It was a huge surprise for us all.
You always mention how important it was for you to be in Televisión por la inclusión.
Yes, Cristina and I wanted to do this show because it spoke of human rights in a country that takes them as a state policy. And it was a way to fight for the Media Law: making this show meant taking specific actions. It showed that another television was possible with a more pluralistic Media Law.
What are the main reasons for your support of Kirchnerism?
Back in 2001, and largely thanks to Pedro, I was working in Spain, and wanted to go live there. We all know things were terrible here. So I thank Néstor Kirchner for making me want to stay in Argentina. I thought not even my grandchildren would see what I see now. I’m talking about more than 1100 scientists returning to Argentina, about the same-sex marriage law and the gender identity law, the recovery of YPF, human rights as a state policy... among other things.
What about what remains to be done?
If there’s a government that can do what needs to be done to keep moving forward, then I’m sure it’s this government. They truly care about making it a reality. None of the other candidates or potential candidates is going to do anything but move backwards some 10 or 20 years. Little by little, they are already saying it: instituting tuition at public universities, reprivatizing retirement schemes, austerity...
Why would people vote for these measures?
Because the media still play a very heavy role in influencing people’s opinions, they operate left and right. Otherwise, why would they still have newspapers that lose money? Newspapers don’t make money, they lose money.
You always say your children are your best work. Why is that?
Because it’s the truth. They are in fact the best work I’ve ever done. Better than any character, better than anything else. And they’re much more important, more alive and loving. I care about them the most. Besides, I feel I could already quit acting. I have no ambitions of getting a particularly wonderful role, or a prize, or a great success. Great things that I’d never imagined or dreamed about have already happened. They are a reality already.