Five questions to Andy Garcia
Mr Andy Garcia, with the Leopard Club Award the Festival del film Locarno wants to pay tribute to the mark you’ve left on movie history. Is it true that your film career began as the result of a stroke of destiny that led to you switching interests from sport to acting?
Since a very young age I was highly stimulated by films and the actors in them. That intense feeling towards it was always there, like a dormant virus. But my commitment to organized sports such as baseball and basketball was at the forefront of my activities. Then in my senior year of high school an illness took me away from sports and simultaneously, I took my first acting class and my dormant passion was unleashed.
Which principles have driven you in the choice of the movies to take part to?
I am open to be stimulated by great material; great actors to collaborate with and of course a great director. Especially a director that gives us the freedom to explore the material deeply. The best directors for me are the ones that embrace improvisation and are in constant search for the sub-conscience of the film. So it can surprise you, and for me that is when the film truly comes alive.
More than once, you’ve said that one of the actors who has most influenced you is Sean Connery. How did you feel about acting next to him in a cult film like Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables?
It was a great joy and privilege. Sean Connery was one of the actors that inspired me most when I was a young boy, with his portrayal of James Bond. Also James Coburn in The Magnificent Seven, Our Man Flint, and In Like Flint. Destiny I guess brought us together. The curious thing for me is that my introductory scene in The Untouchables with Sean is structured in a similar way to James Coburn’s introduction in The Magnificent Seven. Both films are intern inspired by Seven Samurai. Later on in my career I acted and produced a film with James titled The Man From Elysian Fields which also co-starred the extraordinary Mick Jagger. The 60s and 70s were a very fertile time for me, and many films and actors inspired me. Peter Sellers also should be mentioned. Especially his performances in Dr. Strangelove and Being There. Then of course there is Brando and a long list that followed.
You came on board for the third part of Coppola’s Godfather saga, winning yourself an Oscar nomination. In the trilogy that began with Ocean’s Eleven, on the other hand, your character, George Clooney’s adversary, features in all three films. How does an actor’s work change when their character makes serial appearances?
Characters evolve as we all do in life. Their history informs them, but the objectives of the new story will open different manifestations of your character. Also at times you work with new collaborators, new designers and you stay open to their inspirations of this new chapter. But you are always in service of what is best for the story.
You’ve worked with many great directors. Of which one do you have the best memory? And who inspired you the most when you began directing yourself?
That is a most difficult question as I have had the blessing of working with many great directors and have had strong collaborations and great memories with all of them. I learned from them all, as I was always interested in making films, not only acting in them. They all sensed my passion to learn and embraced my participation. But if I were to name a few, I would have to start with Francis Ford Coppola, Gordon Willis and Hal Ashby, also Ridley Scott, Conrad Hall, Sidney Lumet, Jerry Schatzberg and Steven Soderbergh. But again the list is long and I regret not mentioning many directors that I particularly got on with. Like, Stephen Frears, Mike Figgis, Andrew Davis and more recently Raymond De Felitta. Again the list is larger. But if you put a gun to my head I would have to say Francis. And as a Corleone, you better be prepared to pull the trigger.Lorenzo Buccella