Fresh off his 2012 Oscar nomination for A Better Life, Demian Bichir is one of Oliver Stone’s Savages. The actor visits with Movie Fanatic for an exclusive interview that takes us inside the Stone filmmaking machine. Bichir also reflects on the Oscar nod, why it was particularly resonant given the film and also gushes how his Savages co-star Benicio Del Toro is the best in the biz.
Bichir plays Alex, an aide to Salma Hayek’s drug lord. And long before he got the part, he met with Stone. He admits… that would have been enough.
“We chatted for an hour in his office. We talked about many, many things because he didn’t have a script yet. I just wanted to be able to tell my kids that I had the opportunity to talk to him,” Bichir said and smiled.
“When I got the offer to play Alex, I couldn’t have been happier because Oliver Stone, you know on one side, you have to go the minute that he calls. And then, when I found out about the rest of the cast, I just couldn’t believe my good luck. Everything was really rich and intense. And I want more.”
Who can blame him with the stellar cast, all adorned in the Savages poster. “I only wish I had more shooting days. We spent more time on the process during the shoot with the cast. Oliver immerses in it like no other,” Bichir said. “He’s a legend.”
Bichir gives a brilliant performance, and he is dressed brilliantly as well, something the actor enjoyed, but also saw as an opportunity to give the viewer more of a window into this guy.
“We wanted that. That’s one of the things you have to agree with the director on when you’re building a character -- even down to what they wear and even the way my beard was. We talked about that. We wanted to show the audience how neat he was, even in those minute details. We also wanted him to have a strong Mexican feel, so we gave him cowboy boots. One of the boots he wore was the same that many of our cartels wear. They were beautiful! Everything is perfectly in order,” Bichir said.
Even his selection of a belt buckle showed why he obtained the position he has with the cartel. “He’s great for Salma Hayek’s drug lord because you can see how she would trust him. He’s neat, and nothing will ever be out of place. Those touches were essential.”
In our Benicio Del Toro interview, Bichir’s Savages co-star extolled the virtues of teaming up again after their work on Che. It’s a mutual adoration society with these two!
"I’m so lucky. He can be who he is and not be a good fellow peer -- not a good soccer player, teammate. That’s why he’s so great, because he is. He’s not only one of the great actors on the planet, but he’s also generous and he cares for you. He believes in that game that two actors play on the set. It’s a pleasure to find somebody like that. That’s the joy of it,” Bichir said.
Bichir’s on quite a run of late, one punctuated with that Oscar nomination for A Better Life. Yet, ever selfless, the performer sees his Best Actor attention as a vote for the little movie that could.
“That nomination was for a film that was small. It was not supposed to have that attention. We did. That nomination meant much more than simply the recognition for any actor. It’s a way of saying, 'This is an important film.' When the SAG nomination, Independent Spirit Award nomination and then the Academy nomination arrived, then a lot more people jumped to see the movie,” he said.
“I’ve been really lucky jumping from Fidel Castro in Che to Carlos in A Better Life to Alex in Savages. Those are three totally different characters. That’s what you want. That’s the only way to extend your own capacities.”