'The Motorcycle Diaries'

THESP FILE
What actor/actress would you most like to work with?
“Eduardo Pavlovsky and Ulises Dumont are legendary actors in Argentina, and I haven’t had the pleasure to work with them. I would love to one day.”
What’s your favorite film from the past five years?
“Pizza, Birra, Faso” “It’s a movie that changed Argentinean cinema.”
Which character in a film have you watched and wished you could’ve played?
“Sean Penn’s character in Woody Allen’s ‘Sweet and Lowdown.'”
What are you doing next?
“I’m playing Oscar Bonavena, who fought Mohammad Ali during the ’70s at Madison Square Garden. Shooting starts in 2005.”

Besides hanging on tight to Gael Garcia Bernal as they rode a sputtering motorcycle through the Latin American countryside, Rodrigo de la Serna was given another important responsibility in “The Motorcycle Diaries”: Inject a sense of humor.

De la Serna plays Alberto Granado, fellow medical student and fun-loving best friend of future political revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, as the two young men take a life-changing road trip in the early 1950s.

“From the script, you could tell that Alberto had a playful character,” says de la Serna, a busy Argentinean theater and TV actor who put on over 30 pounds for this role. “Then I met him and experienced his playful personality firsthand. He’s a dancer, singer, ladies man and intellectual. This role is a gift for any actor.”

Other elements of the film got de la Serna equally excited about participating.

“I would’ve said yes to this just because Walter Salles was directing,” he continues. “Then the script was deliciously written. Gael, an actor I admire very much, was going to star, and we were telling the story of the plight of Latin America. How could I say no?”

De la Serna’s character lightened “Diaries” by engaging in silly women escapades and cracking jokes along the expedition. In the wrong hands, the pic could’ve gone too far in the direction of a niche drama and not captured a broad aud.

The actor attributes the movie’s balanced appeal to Salles’ helming skills.

“You see the genius of Walter throughout the movie. It has many levels: It’s a story of friendship, a story about a journey, a story about Latin America. Anyone can find something to love about this film.”

The scenery isn’t bad, either. “Diaries” took de la Serna and Bernal through some of the most gorgeous landscapes captured on film this year.

“I would have never imagined that I would get to travel through all of these places in Latin America. It was a dream come true,” says de la Serna. “But it was also a tiring movie to make. One day you could be 6,000 meters at the top of the Andes and freezing, and then the next day you would be at the Amazon in the heat. It was a very physical film.”

And with all of those hours clocked in on a motorcycle, does de la Serna have a desire to ride anytime soon?

“My bones say no,” he says, “but my heart says yes.”

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