THE EXPERIENCED EVERYMANDAMIÁN ALCÁZAR With a new role in the latest season of Narcos, the distinguished Mexican actor brings a unique voice to a larger audience.
THE RED BULLETIN: Do you follow a ritual when choosing a script?
DAMIÁN ALCÁZAR: We each have our own way of doing things. I practice 30 pages and then decide if I’ll continue or not. Although sometimes at the end I’ll discover something that remained unnoticed.
What’s your advice for other actors?
Never repeat your performance. Once you’ve read for the fifth time you establish a tone. My advice is don’t establish a tone. Always do something new. Many of the roles you choose have a social message. An interesting story becomes rebellious. If it’s not interesting, or if the director’s goal is to make a blockbuster, I am not interested.
To what extent can you change your role?
The actor has a freedom to perform. Even in Chronicles of Narnia I made suggestions. The director even wrote more lines for me. “I want them to be Shakespearean characters,” he told me, so they improved the part. Creative people are always open. Many times changes are not necessary because the script is good. The writer creates a character that doesn’t exist; the actor makes it real.
Would you make movies to make people laugh?
It’s fine if they laugh, but they should also make them think. Do they have to talk about social issues? No, not at all. If the topic is interesting, it will be so for all. It’s like junk food—they shouldn’t eat it, but it still exists …
What kind of stories do you think should be told?
Every topic should be presented in depth. But that’s a pipe dream—it’s impossible. Those who win are the ones who tell the story. There should be a film about the Zapatista movement, about the miners of Pasta de Conchos, about President Peña Nieto’s “White House” scandal, about the people who had millions of dollars in Panama [to evade taxes]. It’s part of our times in Mexico.
What do you say about the premise that actors should not talk about important issues?
I think we should all give our opinion: performers, dentists, engineers … We can’t leave the decisions of Mexico in the hands of politicians, because we have seen that they do not solve anything.
Do you have a bigger responsibility because of your status?
Yes. I have to be consistent. There is no more space for another car in Mexico City, so I ride a bike or use public transportation. I have to set an example: “Don’t use your car, mam.” If you know your country’s situation, you can’t play dumb.
Is that why some directors have labeled you?
Yes, but in a positive way. The same happens for me in theater and in the movies, I have a wide range of roles. Yes, I am a loser; I am the antihero type. I am your average Mexican. It’s easy for people to identify with me on the streets.
What better antihero than Oedipus?
In Shakespeare, we see simple and bland heroes; the bad guys are the interesting ones. The Sancho Panzas represent having your feet on the ground. The hero is always suffering, he is dumb. Other actors try to be politically correct but not even politicians can do that anymore. You have to assume your responsibility. But I also realize that I have a voice for those who don’t have one. I can speak for the workers and farmers when I perform those roles. I understand how they live their life. It would be wrong not to take advantage of that, so you talk about it. As a citizen, your responsibility is to actively participate. I think that if I were an engineer instead of an actor, I would do the same.
Being like that opens up doors for you, doesn’t it?
Many. I can walk on the streets peacefully and with a big smile. People are authentic with me. I feel safe; I can blend in. That is worth something. That is the beauty of this career. Marco Payán