Rudo y Cursi: Interview with producers Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Guillermo del Toro

Interview with Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) producers Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Guillermo del Toro. The film is being released on May 8, 2009 by Sony Pictures Classics.

[AC:] Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) is a drama with a tragic element; but it is dealt with
that very generous tone of Carlos’ that is packed with a sense of humour. This is why it can
be confused with comedy, because the script is completely pleasant, fun and mirthful; there is
a lot of laughter. I believe that the fundamental subject that this story deals with is the
relationship between brothers. It is as much a story of rivalry as it is a story of love in which, if
this competition exists, it comes from the need of being accepted by their mother. I think that
our films, both Carlos’ and mine, are in many ways autobiographic, not from an anecdotic
point of view but rather from an emotional one. I do not feel that Rudo y Cursi (Tough and
Corny) depicts the relationship between Carlos and one of his siblings, but that to a certain
extent, it is a portrait of two parts that co-exist within Carlos himself: on the one hand he is the
roughest and most brusque chap, and on the other, he is the mushiest and corniest.

[AGI:] Personally, I feel very attracted by the main subject of rivalry between brothers. It is a

universal story told within the context of the most popular sport around the globe: soccer. It is
through this sport that the exploration of the brothers’ two completely different paths in their
journey takes place as they come into conflict, as they disagree in their point of view about
life, in a life-and-death rivalry just like Cain and Able. This is a subject matter that has always
been of interest to me; and here it is taken within the family core, the context where tragedy
develops at its best. One of the great virtues of this story is that it presents us with the
opportunity of the parallel observation of two different realities and how a change in their
surroundings has an effect on two different beings. There is a universe that is much more
complex than just the rural or the urban environment; it is not one or the other, it is both
together. This is a great contribution from the script. Migratory movements to Mexico City
happen every day, and they are motivated by conquering a dream –fame, power, exposure–.
And every day there are huge disappointments.

[GdT:] The development of Rudo y Cursi (Tough and Corny) was long and mysterious. What

is nice is that during the journey we realized that the only one who truly knew all the inner
recesses of the story, was Carlos; there was no other option to direct it. He wholly owns the
story and the tone. What I like the most is having discovered that the narrative beat of the film
is so different to Alfonso’s. The film has a very deceitful simplicity. The filming and direction
of actors have a huge wisdom to them, but it feels deceitfully fluent and natural. There are
moments in which I have been involved in or I have read many times a script Carlos wrote,
and I always find that they contain acuteness, mordacity and a great human empathy in them.
Now that he has directed his first feature film, I find all these qualities present as well. What
surprised me was the maturity with which he carried it out.

[AC:] It all began when Carlos told me that this was the movie he wanted to direct and asked

me to help him produce it. That said, my collaboration with Carlos would have been the same
if I produced the film or not. The intervention of Alejandro González and Guillermo del Toro
was what really contributed something to the whole thing. What we tried to do was to create
an environment where Carlos could count with all the necessary tools and the proper creative
space. That is something that, as producer, I am really proud of. I have produced quite a lot,
and for me, the way it should be done is the same way I would like to be produced myself: to
have all the tools available, but to be left alone and, at the same time, to be able to have
someone with whom creatively bounce ideas. Carlos’ initial intention was to create an
unconventional film. When he changed his writer’s hat to the director’s one, he also accepted
the responsibility of the film language, the visual language in respect to the narrative. From
the beginning, Carlos had defined the rhythm of his camera: he wanted to come close to the
scenes he was describing, something quite risky in cinematographic terms because it limits
your action field when you go into editing. Nonetheless, I believe this is where the best films
are created because you can find a cinematographic intention and each frame means
something.

[AGI:] I’ve known Carlos for many years and I have always admired his intelligence and

sense of humour. He has made short films and scripts where he has demonstrated great
talent; in them, he denotes his experience and trade. Carlos has a clear vision of what
staging is and of the dramatic objectives, of how to tell these objectives not only with words
but also in images. He is a director with a point of view, a universe that needs to be exposed
in a very particular way, in a way only he can do it. What surprises in his scriptwriting is that
he has the virtue of writing something that seems flippant and that he is able to go deep
through this “superficiality”, into the most profound th
ings of the human being. Always with

the virtue of the economy of emotions, characteristic of intelligent comedy. He does not tell
you what to see or feel, somehow he allows you to choose within the frame what to look at
because he presents a portrait of the world just as it is. It is not a realistic movie, it is a truthful
one.

[GdT:] One of the earliest decisions Carlos made –one of which picked my interest in the

movie- was that it was not a film about soccer, but at the same time because it was absent, it
was very present in the life of the main characters. The shadow that soccer casts penetrates
in the life of all characters to a degree that it would be impossible for this universe to work out
without it. It is an extremely important element. This portrait is best achieved in how it affects
people while maintaining that element perversely outside instead of including it. Everyone is
radiated by a football that is off screen. The same happens when dealing with the subject of
corruption. The movie has an incisive social commentary, but it successfully melts in harmony
without one theme overflowing the others.

[AC:] This project has also been a celebration of friendship. For Alejandro, Guillermo and

myself, it marks an important moment, as this is the first film we produce under the label Cha
Cha Chá, the company we started together. We have collaborated in many projects over the
years, but we had never made it official before. Gael and Diego are another essential part of
this film —and of this family. The script gave us an excuse to get them together again, and to
make this as a big family reunion.

[AGI:] This film has been a reciprocal process in which everyone has learnt from everyone

else. It has been as if working with family. Somehow, Carlos has always assisted me with my
scripts.

[GdT:] We are all part of the same brotherhood because we all come from the same film

conformation. We are fond of each other. In a way, we have the same cinematographic taste.
The fact that the whole film was made by brothers is very honest.