The actor was “surprised” by Amazon’s sudden cancellation of the Golden Globe-winner, but is now focused on his new Spanish-language series.
Gael Garcia Bernal landed Aqui en la Tierra (Here on Earth) at CanneSeries, premiering his political corruption drama at the television festival.
He created, directed and stars in the show, which falls under the banner of his newly-formed La Corriente del Golfo production company. Bernal, who along with partner Diego Luna parted ways with their previous production venture Canana and launched Corriente del Golfo (Gulf Stream) last week, chalked the big change up to “the normal cycle of life.”
“We wanted to develop a new way of doing things and we were already doing it with this series,” he said of Tierra.
The new company will be involved in film, with Garcia Bernal-directed Chicuarotes in post-production; TV, with Tierra poised for renewal in the next few months; and community projects such as their Morelia film festival and earthquake relief fundraising.
He was “surprised” by Amazon’s sudden cancellation of his Emmy and Golden Globe-winning show Mozart in the Jungle. “I was sad. I was disappointed,” he said. But the move will free up more time as he’s already in development on a second season of Tierra.
He’s also busy with his political activism – and possible ambitions – which were one of the driving factors behind the show.
“I feel strongly one day that I will have to engage myself in the public agora in some way,” he said. While he’s still “in the thinking stage,” in the meantime, he’s been an anti-corruption advocate at the U.N. and hopes to push the public debate with Tierra.
“We can talk about corruption through journalism or political discussions, but at the same time you need these tangents where you see the human side of things, and get a sense and try to understand the cost of the conflict that exists,” he said.
“Doing a film or a series that deals with these issues will be intrinsically political. It is one of the motivating factors to express and defend the freedom [of speech], to be responsible with it and to sustain that freedom,” he said of the hard won rights that have developed over the last 30 years in Latin America. “We can’t go back. We can’t censor ourselves.”
The show will launch across Latin America April 22, with Brazil following a month later. Fox Networks Group Latin America launched sales at MIPTV.
Tierra also marks new ambitions for the group, who want to raise the quality bar. “We need to compete and have productions on the same level as 21st Century Fox is making in the U.S.,” said group president Carlos Martinez, who hopes Tierra will change the brand identity for the pay TV channel. The show will also drop all episodes Netflix-style for binge watching millennials who are used to high production values.
With stars, story and quality, he also hopes Tierra will get a U.S. slot and be the first Spanish-language show to air in prime time.
While the series begins with murder and political conspiracy, it also focuses on two life-long friends from different sides of the tracks and the issues surrounding the development of an airport project. When Garcia Bernal and Kyzza Terrazas began working on the story three years ago, it was fiction; today, it has become a major topic in the Mexican presidential campaign.
He says the class struggles of the story apply to the U.S. as well. “Mexico shares the American dream, the American dream is about America the continent,” he said. While he acknowledges some historical differences, “one of the hypocrisies or contradictions that both countries have is that they both pretend to be justice for all and we are all equal. But justice is for a few and if you have money you get away with it.”
The CanneSeries premiere gave Garcia Bernal more ideas of where to take the show next season. “I was watching it, thinking, ‘Let’s do this, and this, and try this,’” he joked about making some bold moves. “And this time, we’ll take no prisoners.”