The Chilean actor Alfredo Castro, at the door of the Cervantes theater, in Malaga.Garcia-Santos / El Pais
There is no Latin American actor like Alfredo Castro (Santiago de Chile, 65 years old). His weight, his presence and his waiting list. “I very seldom say no,” he acknowledges sitting on one side of the Teatro Cervantes in Malaga, with his slow and precise speaking, “but it is also true that good scripts come to me, the directors know what I am giving and the songs are linked together. Castro is the current master of tortured characters, of types with murky but polyhedral backgrounds. “I don’t want to do light things, I want complex films. I am interested, more than the characters, scripts with a political overtone, that raise social questions. Every human being has a dark, perverse side, which has now been shown even more in this horror that we are living ”.
This is how he has become famous. Theater director, actor in any format, founder of the company La Memoria, decisive for contemporary theater in his native Chile, Castro studied acting and dramaturgy in France and the United Kingdom during the 1990s, and in Chile he combined stage and television . But fame came to him with his feature films with Pablo Larraín, with whom he found a bond, a joint exploration of the darkness of Chile: there they are Tony Manero (2008), Post Mortem (2010), Not (2012), The club (2015) and Neruda (2016). “I was happy with that chain. Because my job is to make a critical, forceful, important film that removes consciences and contains a certain amount of danger, “he argues. Those films, along with their protagonist in the Venezuelan From there (2015), Golden Lion of Venice, confirmed its excellence.
“My job is to make a critical, forceful, important film that stirs consciences and contains a certain amount of danger”
At the Malaga festival he competes with Argentina Karnawal,in which he plays a scammer who visits his teenage son for a few days of leave from his prison sentence, and with the Spanish The consequences, with a character, that of a father burdened by a terrible family secret that prevents a better relationship with his daughter (Juana Acosta), with immediate resonances in Castro’s previous work. In between the two screenings, separated by seven days, the Chilean will travel to Toulouse, at whose festival he will receive a tribute.
Both in Karnawal like in The consequences, his characters, parents with complex relationships, are the fruits of their environment, “of other horrible parents.” On The consequences, the viewer will find the echo of Some beasts, of families rotting layer by layer. “All of Chile, and in general all of Latin America, is full of these families. I suspect that Spain, because of its past of Catholic repression, too. Curiously, the Chilean Church during the Pinochet dictatorship fought in favor of human rights, and later we discovered the horror of the pedophilia that it hid, as it showed The club”, explains the actor. “These families are the same. They collapse smelling of rot. And in real life in Chile the pandemic has multiplied, due to the confinement, femicides and child abuse … It has been very hard ”.
Regarding his career, he warns: “They often call me directors and say: ‘My film is somewhat reminiscent of this one of yours.’ And I don’t care, if we jointly investigate how we are going to do it. It is partly my fault, because I am looking for that special, political cinema. For me, politics is what concerns the human being ”. And he gives as an example the character of El Corto, his convict from Karnawal. “He is a good man, I cannot judge him, society gave him a life, he had this criminal journey and he had no other chance.” The drama takes place on the Argentine border with Bolivia, an excellent breeding ground for malambo dancers, traditional Argentine dance, and crime. “The borders in Latin America are exciting, they hide worlds that fascinate me.” And that leads to another Castro impulse: to discover worlds, “social ecosystems that technology and modernity are engulfing, rural universes despised from the urban point of view.”
“As an actor, I think that all my characters should keep a secret”
Whereas in The consequences, Castro’s character has rebelled against his family past. “It is that deep down, the film takes me to the Greek tragedy. Who pays the blame? Who is the receptacle of the horrors of this family secret, which has turned into violence? Well, he, who carries that past on his shoulders, “defines the actor, who points out:” On the other hand, during part of the footage the viewer does not know. It is a journey that is not obvious at all. As an actor, I think that all my characters should keep a secret ”.
In the near future, Castro wants to direct. “I am thinking of adapting The workers of death, by Chilean writer Diamela Eltit. I see that I get closer to a point where I talk with the filmmakers about whether we do this or that, and they can answer me: ‘Make your movie, this is mine.’ And before that happens, I’ll have to jump in. “