'The Bridge' actor Demián Bichir discusses his role on the Danish-Swedish TV adaptation
'The Bridge' stars Demián Bichir and Diane Kruger as police detectives investigating a crime which took place on a bridge between Mexico and the US. Because 'The Bridge' is on cable, 'there's a wider variety of things you can talk about,' Bichir says.
After earning an Oscar nomination for his lead performance as an undocumented immigrant in the 2011 drama "A Better Life," Mexican star Demián Bichir found himself in high demand on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. He straddles both worlds in FX's new series "The Bridge," which debuted July 10 and co-stars Diane Kruger.Skip to next paragraph
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Bichir plays Marco Ruiz, a detective with Mexico's Chihuahua State Police investigating the gruesome murder of an American judge whose body is found on the bridge connecting El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico. Ruiz teams up with El Paso PD detective Sonya Cross (Kruger) to catch a serial killer operating on both sides of the border.
Together, they must navigate the slippery politics of Mexican law enforcement, which is already consumed with illegal immigration, drug trafficking, violence and prostitution. In advance of the series premiere, TheWrap spoke with Bichir on topics ranging from bilingual TV programming to Hollywood's often negative depiction of Mexico.
TheWrap: How did you first get involved with "The Bridge"?
Demian Bichir: I got an invitation from Elwood [Reid] and Meredith [Stiehm] and I was excited because I liked what I'd read. The pilot was really well-written and I liked the character on paper. But you never know what's going to happen next because all you have is the pilot. When they threw out Diane Kruger's name, that helped me make my decision.
Do you feel like your Oscar nomination for "A Better Life" opened doors for you in Hollywood and helped get you this show?
The way I see life and my work is that every project – every film, every play or anything I do – will potentially be my passport to something better, if you're lucky enough to get a good final product. After "A Better Life," a lot more people knew about me and we got a lot more attention. I'm just happy that it happened with "A Better Life" because it's a film I love very much and I'm emotionally attached to in many ways. I'll be forever grateful to Chris Weitz because he put all he had on my name and he won. You don't find too many people who really bet on you blindly, so that was without a doubt why I'm doing this.
Did you watch the original Scandinavian series "Bron" that "The Bridge" is based on?
I didn't want to see the original series because I'd heard so many great things about it and I didn't want to bring anything [from it] to my character. I wanted to go from scratch and make this a brand new project, at least for me.
Marco Ruiz is billed as one of the only honest cops on the Mexican police force. Is that suggestion, that most Mexican cops are corrupt, a cliched stereotype in Hollywood?
There are many other stereotypes and cliches but with the way corruption works, the fact that Marco is an honest man in a difficult world is not a very common type of situation. There are many cops like Marco Ruiz who go out there and risk their lives for a very low salary. What's sad is that the vast majority of cops are not like Marco Ruiz. There are some, but he's one of the few. There is corruption on both sides of the border. Violence affects both sides. Immigration is an issue that affects both countries and we talk about all of that on "The Bridge." I haven't seen any series that talks about that and about Mexico in such an important way.
How do you feel about the show's depiction of Juarez and how it deals with preconceptions and prejudices that Americans may have about Mexico?
It's hard to change those because there's a way Mexico has been perceived throughout the years. If you change it, or show Mexico as a beautiful place, which is the way it is, maybe the audience won't buy it, so they throw in a little filth. I don't think that's fair, it's just the way Hollywood works.
What are your thoughts on bilingual programming? Do you feel like the Spanish-language scenes add to the authenticity of "The Bridge"?