Gael Garcia Bernal was born on November 30, 1978 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He has starred in some of Mexico's most celebrated films. Beginning two years ago with Amores Perros, then last year's Y Tu Mama Tambien and El Crimen del Padre Amaro, he has come to represent Latin America's new breed of filmmaking - daring, visceral, subtly political.
It was his debut as the working-class street thug in Oscar-nominated Amores Perros that first grabbed Hollywood's attention. Like a Mexican Marlon Brando, Gracia Bernal transmits vulnerability beneath a bad-boy sexuality.
There is this internal complexity that he reflects in his eyes. He resembles River Phoenix; he has the same tenderness but also this sense of being on the edge. He has an ambivalence that is very interesting and that the camera loves. He is cinematic animal - a type of animal that is almost extinct.
But his path to stardom has been unusual, considering that his feature films have been small and - outside Mexico - foreign. If his luck holds and he continues to land the right roles, he could be on his way to becoming a new breed of international movie actor. His current project, The Motorcycle Diaries, for example, is British-financed, directed by a Brazilian, about an Argentine revolutionary, starring a Mexican, with dialogue in Spanish and developed by an American company.
Walter Salles, director of Motorcycle Diaries, said Gael Garcia Bernal has a sponge-like ability to soak up his surroundings. Some of this he has learned as an actor. Most of it follows from his sensitivity and natural curiostiy.
Gracia Bernal started acting as a one-year-old and spent most his teen years starring in soap operas. But just as he became a soap heartthrob, at age 19, he left Mexico's television world to study acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Unlike with many Hollywood stars, you get the sense that he is humbled by his success. He is embarrassed by his popularity. He says he pursued a career in acting to have fun.
He greets female fan with a kiss on the cheek and happily poses for pictures with them. One moment, he plays the naughty schoolboy; the next, he is as intense as a philosophy student. Right now, he's tired. He has been filming and promoting movies nonstop for three years.
"I feel like a ping-pong," he says. "I need to recharge my batteries."
He was raised in nonconformist ways by somewhat bohemian, leftist parents who worked in theatre. His mother, Patricia Bernal, is an actress and former model. His father, Jose Angle Garcia, is a director.
Celebrity photos courtesy of Getty Images, WireImage, Tetu Magazine, Icon Magazine, Attitude Magazine, DNA Magazine, Paparazo, Terra's The Boy,
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