Since 1961, Argentina has been sending films to vie in the Oscars’ best international film race and Ricardo Darin, the country’s most celebrated actor, stars in at least seven of them, including this year’s nominee, “Argentina 1985.” That’s no mean feat but given his lifetime commitment to his craft, perhaps not surprising.
Four of them: “Son of the Bride” (2001), “The Secret in their Eyes” (2009), “Wild Tales” (2014) and now the Amazon Studios-backed “Argentina 1985,” have either been shortlisted or in the case of Juan José Campanella’s “The Secret in Their Eyes,” taken home the golden statuette. Given its wins at the Venice Film Festival, the National Board of Review and the Golden Globes as well as the growing buzz, “Argentina 1985” may again clinch the honor.
Before his international career-launching turn in 2000 heist drama “Nine Queens,” which spawned a Hollywood remake, Darin, 66, had already worked in 35 films, aside from numerous roles in television, the theater and commercials from the time he was a toddler. As a child, he aspired to become either a veterinarian or a psychiatrist but the calling of his family’s legacy was too loud.
“I decided to follow the path my family has forged,” says Darin whose parents are both actors. His sister Alejandra and son, Chino, are also thespians.
“Ricardo is an uncommon actor. Like James Stewart, he brings integrity and familiarity to the characters he embodies. He builds every role from his own identity, making both character and player indivisible,” says “Argentina 1985” helmer Santiago Mitre.
“He is intuitive, honest, intelligent, approachable and empathic. It is a pleasure to work with him, not only for his overwhelming charm or his marvelous precision, but also for his understanding of all aspects of cinema. Ricardo is the ultimate collaborator, someone who will advise you and will help you think about every detail of a film. And besides that, he is one of the funniest people I know.”
“Ricardo is part of the whole creative process, usually from early drafts, but he sticks to the written word, usually giving both depth and humor without improvising,” says the drama’s producer Axel Kuschevatzky of Infinity Hill, who has been involved in 11 films with Darin since “The Secret in Their Eyes.”
“I don’t tend to improvise unless certain scenes call for it; I prefer to discuss the script in depth and then respect it,” Darin says. “Don’t believe anything Santiago and Axel say,” he quips.
“Ricardo is the sheer definition of a storyteller — someone with a deep understanding of what audiences expect from movies, yet he is always willing to try new things, to challenge himself in every project, as an actor, producer and even as a director,” Kuschevatzky says. “His sense of humor is unparalleled and he makes life better for everyone, both in and out of the set. Ricardo is simply one of the good guys.”
As he always does, Darin followed his gut to accept the part of prosecutor Julio Cesar Strassera in the film, which dramatizes Argentina’s Trial of the Juntas in which members of the defeated military dictatorship were taken to court. Of course, other factors weigh in: the script, the director, the cast etc.
“I’m interested in stories about human conflict. I also love comedies but as Peter O’Toole said: ‘Life is easy. Comedy is hard,’” he says twisting the actor’s words some.
“The film resonated with people because it may be a local Argentine story but it touches on a universal theme, the call for justice. I recited Strassera’s actual closing remarks verbatim 30 times and in each instance, there wasn’t a dry eye in the court,” he recalls of the “cathartic” shooting experience.
What’s next? Darin does not rule out working in Hollywood. “I received an offer some months ago but I couldn’t because of a scheduling conflict,” he says. Meanwhile he’ll be working on a new project, still under wraps, which starts filming in Argentina in May.