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                                                A Roundtable Interview With Patricia Riggen

                                                Director of ďUnder The Same MoonĒ

                                                Dallas , Texas , February 26, 2008

 

 

PR:  Itís like growing tomatoes.  You never know how theyíre going to look until they come out.  I never know how people are going to respond to my movie until they see it.

Outlook:  How did you decide on who was going to play Carlitos?

PR:  I read an interview of his in a political magazine in Mexico .  When I saw how intelligent he is, I invited him to audition.  When I asked him to do an improvisation, thatís when I realized how good he is.  Heís so quick, very smart, very funny, and completely destroyed (the competition).  I think thatís one of the reasons he has such good energy with Enrique.  Heís strong in his own right.

Outlook:  How did you find Enrique?

PR:  Enrique happens to be the famous comedian of Mexico . The interesting thing is that heíd never been on film, and never done a dramatic role.  It was risky, but I gave him the chance.  And he did a wonderful job.

Outlook:  I think your casting of Kate worked out well, also.  Sheís not super-glamorous, but she was very believable in that role.

PR:  It wasnít a challenge for me to work with her, because sheís very good, sheís very natural, but itís still a challenge of perception, because she comes from soap opera in Mexico .  She did a beautiful job, because the kid gets the adventures, he gets the journeys, and she sits in one place thinking about her problem.  Thatís very hard to pull off, and be loveable, and I think she did a profound job with the role.

Outlook:  Well, and since she wasnít, say, Penelope Cruz, we could believe that she really was in that situation, rather than an actress playing a part.

PR:  I do something even worse.  When they pick them up in the van, thatís like a really famous group.  Thatís like the Rolling Stones of Mexico.  So the challenge was how to make these characters fit into these roles, and still be themselves.

Outlook: That was a nice scene.

PR:  And I think they will buy that scene in Mexico , as well.  I shot everything in Mexico , for budgetary reasons, except exterior Los Angeles , and thatís because it cannot be duplicated.  We know it too well.  So I shot one week in L.A.   The rest was Mexico , even the interior L.A. scenes, like in the houses, which meant we had to match makeup and hair really well.  And for the little parts, I didnít have money to bring in all the SAG actors, because theyíre very expensive, so I had to get my friends to act.  That was hard.  If you didnít notice, thatís a good thing.  The scene at the border checkpoint was shot in a warehouse.  My dream is to have the proper resources for my next film.

Outlook:  I think that scene at the end, where Eugenio sacrifices himself for the sake of the boy, was very touching. 

PR:  Umm-mm.

Outlook:  It set up the reunion scene between the boy and his mother, which could have been very sappy, and it was, but it worked.

PR:  (laughs) Critics have hearts, too.  The first screening, the audience just cheered, but then the studio wanted to see it, so the second screening was just industry people.  It was horrendous.  It was the worst screening of my life.  Nobody was crying, nobody was laughing, there was no energy, it was horrible.  And I thought, ďIím dead.Ē  But it was the industry people pretending that they werenít affected, like poker players.  But then they all ran to buy it.  They just didnít want to show anybody else they cared.

Outlook:  Is it fair to say that you want to instill an emotional response in your audience?

PR:  Thatís what I do.  Thatís what I do in my work.  I love that.  I like to create emotions, not from sadness, not from making a depressing film where the kid has cancer and dies.  I donít like that.  I like to create emotion from joy.

Outlook:  You met the author, and liked her script?

PR:  She saw my documentary (ďFamily PortraitsĒ), and liked it, and she sent me the script.   It was a first draft, but I thought it was very powerful.

Outlook:  How about the jokes about Schwarzenegger on the bus?

PR:  (laughs) I was very careful with that, because you know, Iím Mexican, and I donít want to be deported.

Outlook: (laughs)

PR:  No, I didnít want to be disrespectful, but thatís what theyíre listening to.  Thatís a real DJ, and thatís what they listen to at 4 a.m. , because they have to take three buses and two trains, to get to