Star of A Better Life, actor Demian Bichir, recently told USA Today that he considers himself very lucky to play a gardener in the Chris Weitz directed film that earned him a SAG and Academy Award SAG nomination this year. “You know, when you encounter a character like this and a project like this, the first reaction is how lucky I am. Because this is my Hamlet. This is my King Lear.… It’s a bigger-than-life character that any actor would fight for it, would die to do it.”
The Mexican American actor, who also gained recognition for his role in Weeds opposite Mary Louise Parker as the dangerous Esteban Reyes, packed on 20 pounds to play his alter ego Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant trying to keep a low profile in East Los Angeles to continue to care for his son.
Admittedly feeling the pressures of playing such a role, Bichir says he was also honored “to give voice to all those 11 million human beings who are here that make our lives easier and better and happier, and we don’t care for them,” adding that the part was a “big responsibility.”
The Che actor was also drawn to the part because of the films message. “When I read the script, I thought, ‘Wow, man, this is so important that Hollywood talks about this.’ Because we can make 10,000 films in Mexico about this issue and no one would care.”
The forty-eight year old actor landed the part a year after discussing the part and a possible role in Chris Weitz’s Twilight Saga installment New Moon. “I was a little bit confused because I didn’t know if it was a gardener vampire who would work at night.”
After accepting the part, Bichir found himself driving through the swanky landscapes of Beverly Hills looking for gardens. “Whenever I saw a truck with some paisanos working, I would stop and talk to them. And they were really generous to share their stories with me and to teach me, and let me watch, at least, how to perform those demanding tasks.”
Although A Better Life wasn’t exactly a smash hit at the box office Bichir still hopes the population will see the eye-opening drama. “My biggest hope was, and still is, that maybe after those nominations, we can bring as much attention as we can so the film can be watched by many, many more people.”