by R.C. Samo
During the Universal Pictures press junket for Despicable Me 2 at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, Benjamin Bratt, discussed his career as an dramatic actor and taking the role as El Macho, the most villain with the most machismo.
On replacing Al Pachino as El Macho: I had to base it on what he did. After they mutually departed ways and they needed an actor to refine the soul, I was met with these very strict parameters I had to follow. One was the problem of math, simply a matter of timing where I had to get the wording that verbal parenthetical to make the words fit the mouth. The second, more challenging issue for me, of course was to make it feel more organic. Our initial approach was to replicate what Al Pachino did, but we found that to be impossible and a waste of two days to mimic what he had done.
On the character of El Macho: That character is all over the map, physically…a man of girth and full of life and expansive in every imaginable way. The challenge for me was to find in myself and make it feel real.
On Despicable Me 2 being a family film: My kids dig it. I think in truth the film is aimed at everyone. As it happens I was a huge fan of the first film. I took my wife as a date movie, I didn’t even bring my kids to that film. They have become huge fans of the first one. That’s really the beauty of the first film and what happens with the second one is that, you have a kind of alchemy, subversive humor, which is very adult in nature balanced with theses adorable minions and real heart at the end of the day. It sounds kind of corny but is a fact. What I found so appealing about the first one is that at the heart of your story you have a man who aspires to be the most diabolical person in the world, he aspires to be the well thought villain and we discovers as he (Gru) does himself that there is a beating heart in there and he’s actually a good dad.
Is animation a way to go wild and keeping his chops fresh: I think all actors are on the constant search for a real challenge to keep things interesting. I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years now and most of you know I’ve done a lot of different kind of things. This was a challenge unlike any I’ve ever met, not just because of the circumstances but for me, on camera I was always told less is more…this is a completely different animal here, inside a studio and being as large and as proud and as exuberant as I can be and I’m being told, “Hey, it ain’t enough.”
On being a dramatic actor going to comedy and animation: I’ve always felt that acting is acting at the end of the day. Whether you are doing comedy or heavy drama or anything else in between you always have to bring a semblance of honest to it. It’s all make believe, we except that premise that it’s all pretend, yet you have to find a place to you that’s real making it organic. My approach to comedy doesn’t really change. There is a considerable amount of technique in this forum and giving the circumstances, more than I had anticipated, but at the end of the of the day, I am a performer, after the technique is put aside, rely on instincts.
Despicable Me 2 opens July 3rd nationwide.