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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu says he's not a madman

The Oscar-winning director of "Birdman" talks about the difficulties making "The Revenant" and what he thinks of the "bear rape" rumor.
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    Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is seen on "The Revenant" set with star Leona|Twentieth Century Fox

Recently word spread, thanks to the Drudge Report, that the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie featured him being raped by a bear. It wasn’t true. But at least the director of the film in question — Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose latest is “The Revenant” — found that funny.

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Inarritu won an Oscar earlier this year for “Birdman,” which he filmed shortly before the near-year-long shoot of “The Revenant.” The film finds DiCaprio as an 18th-century fur trapper who gets left for dead after a near-fatal bear attack, then struggles through the wilderness back to civilization.

There’s been a lot of gossip surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio and the bear. What’s your opinion of this false rumor?

[Laughs] All that gossip is hilarious and part of the culture we are living [in]. It makes me laugh, but it has a very pathetic side. It’s sad that the world feeds off all this nonsense when there is much more important news to be covered.

A number of cast members left the production citing that it was a “living hell.” You were described as a “madman.” Would you agree?

No, I’m not a madman.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a little cuckoo but not mad. You have to be a little crazy to be a filmmaker — you need craziness.

The movie shows a conflict between the Pawnee Indians and fur trappers. Are you keen to reignite the debate about the U.S.'s treatment of Native Americans?

I think more than anything it’s about how the interaction between these blind and ignorant men, who are driven only by profit, kill every tree and animal to extract all the natural resources. Through their actions they give so much pain to the communities at that time, and it’s a reflection of what we are still doing.

I think it’s good to understand that that era is the original time in history when this system of profit was implanted: the idea that entitlement comes through profit, and when money is god, we are in a system that is killing everything.

John Fitzgerald, the treacherous character played by Tom Hardy, says that killing isn’t going to bring back Glass’s son. Is revenge futile and is this a comment on what’s happening in the world today?

I think it is a very relevant thing, but who am I to say what is right and what is wrong? I think that revenge is something that we have inherent in ourselves. It’s an emotion that we all share. But my question is: What is behind revenge? Even when you accomplish something successfully, there is no meaning to life after death, and that’s when people collapse or create more rage in themselves.

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I think the only way out is forgiveness. That is the only way to stop killing ourselves. Nobody will win this war and I think the only way is forgiveness — but are we capable of it?

Speaking of revenge, have you managed to forgive the people who kidnapped your father and violently robbed your mother in Mexico?

Yes, absolutely. There is no other way. There is a saying for revenge: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves” — one for your enemy and one for yourself. There is no way to stay alive and not be eaten by pain.

Some of the Republican rhetoric in the U.S., in particular from presidential hopeful Donald Trump, is causing uproar and division at the moment. Do you think their divisive language will cause further hostility?

When you plant these seeds of hate and express those intoxicated words, you create a lot of pain in the people who are consuming them, and you cause the message to spread. That’s how World War II started. It’s how radical leaders have indoctrinated the masses, and that is the most dangerous and irresponsible thing.

There’s also a great deal of debate related to gun crime and firearm ownership in the United States. Do you want to see the laws tightened up?

It’s a complicated question for the country, but what I’m sure of is that guns are not the answer to violence because guns are the creators of violence. It’s a very sensitive thing but I absolutely believe that the United States is the No.1 by far for the highest number of shootings per day — there’s far more gun crime than Mexico. There has to be a solution.

Are you a gun owner?

Not at all. I can’t stand guns. I don’t want to see a gun ever. They make me nervous.

 

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