Disney+’s two most recent high-profile projects, Werewolf by Night and Andor, are led by lifelong friends Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, and Luna is making sure his friend and frequent collaborator understands the lay of the land.
García Bernal is not a complete stranger to Disney, having previously voiced the role of Héctor in Pixar’s Coco, but joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe and leading its first-ever “Special Presentation” is certainly a different beast. That beast is named Jack Russell/Werewolf by Night, who attends an exclusive monster hunt in director-composer Michael Giacchino’s Werewolf by Night special. Giacchino, who composed the aforementioned Coco, offered the titular role to García Bernal directly.
García Bernal and Luna are currently producing Hulu’s Spanish-language limited series, La Máquina, and the duo can’t help but relish their good fortune.
“We’re always kind of in touch with each other. It’s been great. He’s also been a point of reference to help me. When we were at the D23 conference, he was the one who explained to me what was happening because it was my first time. So it’s been great to have a good friend who’s also living something similar as well,” García Bernal tells The Hollywood Reporter.
In a recent conversation with THR, García Bernal also discusses his practical transformation into a werewolf, as well as the initial, yet natural, embarrassment that comes with playing a lycanthrope.
You and your friend Diego Luna are currently the kings of Disney+ with Werewolf by Night and Andor.
(Laughs.) We are doing something [Hulu’s La Máquina] together right now, and so we’re always kind of in touch with each other. It’s been great. He’s also been a point of reference to help me. When we were at the D23 conference, he was the one who explained to me what was happening because it was my first time. It was quite crazy. But it was fascinating to be around all these other projects and people, and doing a press conference and press junket, in a sense, with all these different films and TV series was incredible. I wish all premieres were like that where the films and series are combined. So it’s been great to have a good friend who’s also living something similar as well.
You probably don’t have to audition much these days, so did Marvel come straight to you for Werewolf by Night?
Fortunately, yes. It was a direct invitation from [director-composer] Michael Giacchino, and I immediately said yes. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to interpret this character. There are a lot of tangents and a lot of places that this character or this world can lead to. So as soon as Michael told me what he wanted to do and the way he wanted to approach it, I said, “Yeah, let’s do this!” So it’s been great, and I feel really lucky to be in this world of Marvel because of their know-how and infrastructure. We also got to try things out and experiment. So we were taken care of, and I can’t wait to do more with this great opportunity.
I love how bloody Werewolf by Night is, and Michael Giacchino told me that he was surprised that the special didn’t land a TV-MA rating. Apparently, the black and white kept it at TV-14. Were you surprised that you guys were able to make Marvel’s bloodiest story yet?
The black and white is something that I hadn’t thought about [with regard to the rating], but yes, exactly. What’s great about horror films are the silences, and what you don’t see and hear is just as important as what you do see and hear. So, in this case, it’s bloody, but yes, it’s in black and white, so it’s different. Sometimes, you can’t really see with full detail what goes on, and you can only imagine it. So that’s why black and white is fascinating as well. So I’m definitely glad that we got the chance to do whatever we wanted, and it felt like a big opportunity to experiment.
So how does one approach playing a werewolf? Were your first few takes rather awkward and embarrassing?
(Laughs.) Yes, that’s the idea. It starts from there. Before I started to work on this, I was like, “What am I going to do?” But once you get your feet dirty and put your hands in the clay and start to play around, you gain a little bit of the character. There’s a little bit of appropriation that happens, and once you put the mask on, the whole world is built. That’s when the howling becomes a natural part of what one is doing, and then the embarrassment goes away. At the same time, as actors, we’re used to that. It’s not that we don’t get embarrassed or shy about what we’re about to do, but you have to go through it. It’s like jumping into cold water. Once you’re in the cold water, it’s even colder outside of it, so it’s better to stay in.
You had some fun with makeup in Old, but that was nothing compared to your transformation in Werewolf by Night. How many hours did the process take?
Yeah, [Old] was nothing compared to this. The mask by itself was incredible. It took a while. The first time we did it, it took close to four hours, and then it started to take less and less. By the end, it was actually quite fast. Fortunately, there were many aspects of the costume that were practical, and everything was in camera. We didn’t have to put tracking dots on me [for performance capture]. The whole costume was weirdly scary and odd as well.
Lastly, do you and Diego have a deal where you’ll get him in the MCU if he gets you in Star Wars?
(Laughs.) No, but now that you mention it, maybe we should bet something. So who knows what will happen there. Diego is in a galaxy far, far away, so I don’t know if he wants to get close to monsters and that kind of thing. He’s got more planets to visit, so we’ll see.
Well, congratulations on Werewolf by Night, as well as Station Eleven. That series was a masterpiece.
Thank you so much. I love that series, too.
Werewolf by Night is now streaming on Disney+. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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