Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, is a homecoming for the filmmaker. After such Oscar wins for 2016's The Revenant and 2015's Birdman, Bardo is Iñárritu’s first project to be filmed entirely in Mexico since his 2000 feature film debut, Amores perros.
Bardo follows a Los Angeles-based Mexican journalist/documentarian (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) who, along with his wife, daughter, and son, returns to his native Mexico to receive an award. Once there, he begins to have an existential crisis.
For a film seeped in Mexican culture and history, Iñárritu told Casting Networks he turned to casting director Luis Rosales – best known for his work on Alfonso Cuaron's Roma and HBO’s Mexico-set series Amsterdam. One of the challenges facing Rosales was that aside from the core four actors, the film features hundreds of characters that come and go.
"In this film, there are a lot of bits," said Iñárritu, referring to the minor roles. "There are actors that appear for two, three minutes. They have to build the character and be believable in just that amount (of screen time). It is sometimes very difficult as an actor – and as a director – to make something truthful in two minutes."
He credits Rosales for finding actors who could pull that off. "Luis did an amazing job. He gleaned every (type) of theatre – regional, provincial – to find the type (of actor) I needed. He did a huge amount of work looking everywhere. A casting director on a film like this is super crucial."
However, Inárritu couldn’t resist keeping his go-to U.S. casting director involved.
"The person I have done most of my films with is Francine Maisler," said Iñárritu. "Francine has been my partner in crime in that sense."
The duo has worked together on Revenant, Birdman, Babel, and 21 Grams. For Bardo, he enlisted her help for a few specific roles.
"She helped in the casting of American people," explained Iñárritu. "The border patrol police officer…the supervisor, the ambassador, etc.…but all the other ones were the great work of Luis Rosales."
Iñárritu told Casting Networks that when he looks at audition tapes or conducts them over zoom, “the most important thing for me….is to see people already comfortable with themselves.”
“I start first with the physical thing that I need,” he continued. “Then I ask some questions (to see if) those questions are answered in a very natural way. I don’t care if they can act; it’s to hear their voice, how honest they are, how comfortable with their body they are.”
Iñárritu revealed that casting is the "most scary decision" a filmmaker can undertake. "If you make a mistake (with casting), there is no way a film will recover. It's not the fault of the actor or actress, it's your fault….so honestly, for me, the casting is a very serious thing."
Bardo will have a limited theatrical run starting November 18, 2022, and will begin streaming on Netflix on December 16, 2022.
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