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Rodrigo De La Serna, 28

Film: The Motorcycle Diaries

Why: Much of the appeal of Walter Salles’ paean to the pre-revolutionary Che Guevera and his Falstaffian sidekick Alberto Granado has to do with the appeal of its two leads: Gael Garcia Bernal and de la Serna, heretofore unknown outside his native Argentina. While Bernal is an international heartthrob, de la Serna holds his own. The San Francisco Chronicle called him “a great comic foil” and USA Today described the thesp as “equally powerful” as his co-star.

But Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune might have summed it up best when he wrote, “The film belongs as much or more” to de la Serna, who plays Granado “with boisterous humor and humanity” and “dominates the early scenes with his sheer comic force.”

Quote: “It’s a role for which I have had the most preparation and with which I identify the most, from my artistic, ideological and cultural point of view,” says de la Serna, who’s been acting in theater and television since the age of 12. “These are three things that you don’t always get in one job.

“The Alberto Granado role actually is the more theatrical — he laughs more and dances more,” says de la Serna. “And Guevara’s character is very difficult to portray. I think Gael does a job that couldn’t be better in that sense. He manages to have a synthesis of coming together; you can see where everything is being taken into this young man and at the same time it’s being projected back out through his eyes. I think the characters are very well counterpoised.”

What’s next: “I’m considering some projects for theater and film from Argentina and also in Spain.”

On crossing over: “I’d have to really practice my English and perfect it in order to do it. If this were to come up, if there was a role that I could play, that I could fulfill in a natural and dignified and sincere way, yes, of course. Why not?”

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