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Not Another Teen Movie

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Not Another Teen Movie: an interview with Y Tu Mama Tambien stars

or years, American film studios have plotted teen movies using the chess pieces of stereotype — bully goes here, geek there, and where to put the girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty? Perhaps adult filmmakers prefer to look back on a neutered cartoon of adolescence. Not so Y Tu Mama Tambien, which proves that adolescent fear, confusion and wide-eyed exuberance make for awkward sex but great films. In my conversation with the film’s twenty-one-year-old stars, Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros) and Diego Luna, I found it was no accident that Y Tu Mama was able to capture teenage volatility and desire like no other film — these precocious male leads totally get it. — Alisa Volkman

This is the second highest-grossing film in Mexican film history. I’d say congratulations, but I wanted to ask: does commercial success have the same stigma in Mexico that it does here?

Luna: No, I think it’s a very good thing. In Mexico, there’s not such a thing as big studios or independents or money and marketing. It’s a very raw industry.

Bernal: It’s an amazing thing, and when you do a movie in Mexico, like five years ago you won’t expect this kind of thing. But now something is changing and people are fighting to have stories that talk about them. We don’t make movies not to be seen.

How did you feel about the film’s explicit sexuality?

Luna: It was great to do a teen movie where you can see sex — it’s just a natural thing. When you’re young, sex is everything, so if you’re making a movie about young people, you have to see sex.

Bernal: The sex in the film has a double meaning. The movie itself is very honest, but the sex is not.

How do Hollywood teen films — like American Pie — depict sex by comparison?
Luna: They don’t like the characters. They treat them like fools. They make jokes about young people. I think being a teen is not that easy.


American actors never display full frontal nudity in a film, but it looks like you guys were pretty comfortable with it.


Luna: The first day was kind of difficult, but it’s like getting inside a really cold pool. It’s difficult to get in, but once you’re swimming, you don’t want to get out. I think in the end that’s what acting’s about. In a metaphoric way, you’re always nude.

Bernal: It would have been hard to drag American actors into this movie, because they would have taken it too seriously. Americans think of acting as a career, that they’ll get typecast when they appear in films with nudity. We don’t see acting as part of an industry the way most American actors do.

No worries that you might not be taken seriously now that people have seen your dicks?

Luna: Well, it wasn’t my dick!

Really?

Luna: Yes, it was a prosthetic.


Did you get to choose the size?


Luna: No. The size and color were mine. I’m not circumcised, and I didn’t want to go through the operation just for the movie.


The opening sex scenes were really graphic. Were you wearing the prosthetic then?


Luna: I wasn’t. You couldn’t really see the penis, but it had to be erect for the scene.


How did you deal with that?


Bernal: You just have to rub yourself for a little bit.


Any awkward moments?


Luna: During the shower scene, water seeped into the prosthetic, and it got very big and long, like a mushroom. But I didn’t realize it was happening, because nobody said “cut,” so I just kept going on until everyone just stood there laughing. The cameraman was laughing so hard, he had to pass the camera off to someone else.


Was it hard to wait until the end of the film to kiss each other?


Luna: No.

Bernal: No no no no no no no.

Luna: I think waiting helped a lot.


How did you both feel about the film’s gay overtones?


Luna: Every woman and every man has bisexual sides. When you’re young, you share a lot of things with your friends.

Bernal: I think it was normal. They were really the only people who loved each other in the film.


Is homosexuality usually explored in Mexican film?


Bernal: No, it’s not. There aren’t many films being made in Mexico, and among the few that are, homosexual curiosity is not a common theme. We’ll see how people react to this; maybe it will be more common.


I have to say, that scene where you are both masturbating on the diving board looked pretty real  . . .


Bernal: That’s a nice compliment, in a way.

Luna: Everything in the movie was acting.


Have you ever been in a threesome off-screen together?


Luna: I’ve been, but not with him. With another friend.

Bernal: When I was in a threesome, it was with two other girls.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the film were the narrator’s
observations and the director’s tendency to drift off on tangents — it had a paternal quality, a sense of conscience. Did you think the film’s political messages were appropriate?


Luna: Yes. The movie shows reality. We want the viewers to draw their own conclusions from the reality that we show. It’s not a film forcing you to think in any way.

Bernal: I think the messages are very important, because this isn’t just a teen movie. Besides, I don’t think you can get away with making a film in Mexico without including political messages.


Diego, do you usually flap your arms when you get a blowjob?


Luna: That blowjob was different. It was a professional one.


Do you think you’ll be getting more now?


Bernal: We don’t think, we know. (laughs)

Luna: Yes. We’ve been receiving a lot more. That is why I love this movie. I don’t care about the awards or the premiere or anything. I just care about the blowjobs.

Y Tu Mamá También opens nationwide on Friday, April 5.

For the film’s official website, click here.

To read Russell Brown’s review of the film, click here.





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