Demian Bichir’s background in theater prepared him for the diverse roles he has come to play in TV and cinema. The Mexico-born actor has starred in films and television shows such as “Weeds,” “Che,” “A Better Life” (for which he was Oscar nominated) and “The Hateful Eight.” He’s portrayed characters as varied as a drug kingpin, Fidel Castro, an immigrant gardener and an assassin. In Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” he plays Sgt. Lope, part of a same-sex couple on a colonizing space mission. The film hits theaters May 19.
What has been the most challenging part about adjusting to so many different types of roles?
Stepping out of my comfort zone; that’s the only way you can surprise yourself. You have to say no many times to find the right roles. You do get the same offers — once the industry sees you play, for example, a gardener, you will get a lot of offers to play a gardener. Very few people really have the imagination to picture you doing something different.
What made you want to get on board with “Alien: Covenant”?
Basically, you can’t say no to Ridley Scott. If he called me for coffee, I would jump on a plane and go buy it for him.
The “Alien” franchise has previously hinted at same-sex relationships, but this is the first time it’s deliberately portraying one. How does the movie present this?
I think it’s a universal type of story — in the times we are living in right now, and how humanity is, and where we’re going. This film talks about that. It’s about diversity in many different ways. To me it has a very interesting political side; it’s not only a very scary film.
You recently wrote and directed your first film, “Un Cuento de Circo & a Love Song,” about a romantic who chases love from a circus in Mexico to New Orleans. What inspired you to get on the other side of the camera?
I think there is a director in every actor. We see everything, and we pretty much always care about everything. If you direct your own film, then you get to make every decision and have all the responsibility on your shoulders. I was intrigued by how that would make [me] a better actor, and I think it did in many ways. I knew it was going to be a great experience, but I didn’t know that I would love it so much. I would do it again as soon as possible.
What you didn’t know about Demian Bichir