The Mother Director Niki Caro On Jennifer Lopez As A ‘Primal Protection Force’ [Exclusive Interview]

Gael García Bernal is a wonderful actor, and he gives a performance where he’s clearly been on a journey from when we first see him in the movie to when we see him at the end — at the end of his story, anyway, when Jennifer Lopez confronts him. What did you talk about with him to take him to that place? Because he is giving a very fascinating performance, I think.

Yeah. Fascinating actor. Brilliant, brilliant actor. We just talked about the journey of getting into a hedonistic and dangerous business with really terrible people, and once you’re ensnared in that, the toll that takes. So we thought about this thirteen years that has passed since she’s betrayed them to the FBI and not being able to leave Cuba and the world getting smaller and smaller in this decaying mansion, and he himself decaying from the inside out through drug use and fantasies of revenge.

The men in this movie, with the exception of Jennifer Lopez’s friend in Alaska, they seem to end pretty badly. We have two, either of them might be the father as far as we know, and they’re villains. And then we have William, who’s very heroic, but ultimately ineffectual, and he dies. Is that part of the overall theme of the film, or is that just raising stakes?

I would disagree with you that he’s ineffectual. I don’t understand that.

Well, I guess … he dies trying to do something Jennifer Lopez’s character can do, I guess is my point.

Well, yes [laughs], but that’s mischaracterized as an…

I apologize if I said it wrong.

Yeah, because in fact, he is, as a character, a very important version of masculinity, which is somebody who is very strong and very loyal and very gentle, and the only person she trusts. It is tragic, of course, what happens to him, given what could have happened between them, yeah.

So his death is not meant so much to be a commentary as it is just adding to the tragedy of the film?

No, there’s no political commentary there, unless you want to look at it through the lens of, if a man is in the frame with a woman, then by default, the man has to do all the stuff, when this is a movie called “The Mother” and it is on her to protect her child.

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