Luis Gnecco Neruda Interview
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Mercedes Morán
Director: Pablo Larraín
Running Time: 108 minutes
Synopsis: A glorious mix of history and imagination, Neruda is the enthralling new film from multi awardwinning director Pablo Larraín (No, Jackie), a lavishly mounted and grandly entertaining depiction of the manhunt for exiled Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda.
It's 1948, and the Cold War has reached Chile. Following the President's outlawing of communism, Neruda (played by Luis Gnecco, bearing a remarkable likeness) and his artist wife Delia (Mercedes Morán) are forced into hiding. Beloved by the populace, they slip underground and are pursued by incompetent, vainglorious police inspector Oscar Peluchonneau (the superb Gael Garcia Bernal), hoping to make a name for himself by capturing the country's most infamous fugitive.
Whilst life on the run holds little charm for the cultured and hedonistic Neruda, he uses the opportunity to reinvent his work and life, leaving clues for his pursuer designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse even more dangerous and thrilling. Thwarting Peluchonneau at every turn, it's almost as if the detective is the man Neruda would have written to chase himself…
Blending visual grandeur and literary wit, Neruda is a beguiling reinvention of the -standard' cinematic biography. Playfully confounding expectations at every turn, the film offers a startling rumination on the split between the person and persona, the man and the artist. Gripping, funny and ingeniously conceived, this is undoubtedly Larrain's finest achievement to date.
Release Date: May 25th, 2017
Interview with Luis Gnecco
Question: What does it mean for you to play a character as famous as Neruda?
Luis Gnecco: To talk about what it meant to me to approach Neruda, I think it's interesting to first think about playing an actual person.
Playing someone feels to me more like toeing a specific line, one that's already been drawn, than about taking up the challenge of drawing that line from scratch, and that's what happened here. Acting involves bringing together all the materials with which that line gets drawn and then being available to defend that line as well as modify it, in order to establish a dialogue.
This is the process, always dangerous, in which an actor lives and what he feeds off. From that point of view, saying that one is 'playing Neruda" feels wrong to me.
That thought process came out of my initial anguish as I began sketching out this journey. The very idea of getting a handle on the vast life of this giant, whose existence might well be the epitome of the great artist in his era, really threw me into a sort of stupor and confusion – from which I emerged a little trembling slightly after having scratched the surface, barely scratched the surface – more just isn't possible – of one part of his sprawling life's work.
Always a paradox, as sensitive as a person can be, sensual, hedonistic, and at the same time politically committed and active. Brilliant and determined from childhood, weak at times, even superficial. Categorical, valiant, adventurous and elegant. Always shining, blessed by the light of genius and inspired by the muse of passion which, if it really existed would, -in his case be blind and stubborn.
The meaning of having attempted to find my own path through such a sprawling and exuberant biography is as simple as saying yes to the director, of saying yes I would agree to do it, even knowing that by simply taking up this challenge, I was also saying yes to the possibility of subsequent satisfactions.
Question: What was Pablo Larrain's contribution to creating the role of Neruda during the shoot?
Luis Gnecco: Pablo Larraín is one of the directors and artists who understands and is really familiar with how his actors dive into a script and approach a story, even knowing or guessing where they're going to dive underwater and where they will emerge.
His constant generosity consists of inviting you from a very empathic place to join him on this adventure. That place is empathic because it springs from his own intimate exposure.
So every day when you show up on the set you're paired with a tireless worker who invites you to weave a fabric with the materials you have brought, and then you weave and re-weave, until you have a fabric where the loops are not those you were expecting and not where you had chosen to put them.
As I said before, my initial anguish about approaching Neruda and to come up with a rough proposal for the director (assuming this is even possible in this case) was washed away by the generous admission he made to me that he didn't have a set plan either for this woven cloth and all he needed was my determination to weave and my confidence in the fact that even if the work got woven and unwoven a thousand times, there had to be two of us involved in the process from the first loop to the last.
Question: How was it to work with Mercedes Morán and Gael García Bernal?
Luis Gnecco: Working with Gael is always a refreshing experience. His versatility makes him an invaluable actor. And on this project he managed to slip seamlessly into the screenplay's game – where his character comes alive from the poet's words as he tries to construct his eternity. What neither Neruda nor the screenplay anticipated is that the creation comes alive on the borders of the ridiculous and the desperate. Only an actor of his confidence and talent could take on such a subtle and audacious game with so much poise. An actor who enjoys his craft and who is available and always surprising. An intelligent actor with a keen and constant emotional ear. It will always be a pleasure for me to find myself on the set with him, again and again. The Neruda that I portray here is in many ways determined by the Delia ( La Hormiga, 'the ant") that Mercedes Morán has constructed.
A magnificent actress, who works in silence, with enormous concentration. An actress with surprising resources, who manages to negotiate imperceptible subtleties, like no one I've ever seen.
Her portrait of the aristocratic Argentine painter, was a masterclass, a lesson in reliability and temperance in front of the camera.
To sum it up, I don't know if this trajectory of holding fast, casting off and looping around that I have chosen is the right one, but I know it has been so much richer thanks to the presence of that hardworking, great hormiga known as Mercedes Morán.
Release Date: May 25th, 2017