Eduardo Noriega is a renowned Spanish actor who had many prominent film roles in Spain including Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Devil’s Backbone” and Alejandro Amnebar’s “Open Your Eyes (Abre los Ojos),” which was remade into 2001’s Cameron Crowe/Tom Cruise film “Vanilla Sky.” Noriega might look familiar to American moviegoers as his last role as a dangerous drug lord on the run in “The Last Stand” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Noriega is one of many film stars that have made appearances to this year’s Miami International Film. In his latest movie “A Gun in Each Hand (Una Pistola en Cada Mano),” Noriega is part of a Spanish all-star cast that includes Luis Tosar (“Sleep Tight”) and Ricardo Darin (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) in a comedy centered on eight men in their 40s as they deal with their identity crisis. I had the opportunity to speak with Noriega about his latest movie, overcoming language barriers and working with Arnold.
How were you approach to make “A Gun in Each Hand”?
Eduardo Noriega: I have to say that this is a complete different movie for me. First thing is that I wanted to work with (director) Cesc Gay before this film. I admire his films and his talents. When he sent me the script, he only sent me my part. I read it and said I want to do this with you, but send the rest of it so I can get an idea of the whole film. He told me, “No. I prefer to send your part only.” I never got to see the rest of the script so this is the first movie in which I have not read the whole script. Gay is a wonderful director and he wanted the actors to be vulnerable. If we didn’t read the rest of the script, we would be in his hands and we would do whatever he asks us to do. It was a new and different experience for me. At first, I thought it was a western, but it wasn’t it all. He is one the most talented directors in Spain. It was a pleasure to work with him.
Speaking of westerns, you have worked with Mateo Gil on several projects including his latest film, “Blackthorn.” What is it about Mateo that makes you want to work with him over and over again?
Noriega: Mateo is a talented director. He is a really dedicated person. He loves his job, the industry, writing, shooting and working with the actors. We are also friends. We met 20 years ago when we started doing short films so we know each other from that time. I think it’s easier to work with someone you really know. If you respect and admire his work and if he is also your friend, it’s even easier. I would do movies with him no matter what it is. If I am not sure about the script, I would still make movie with him because I know he is going to do good things.
In doing roles in American productions whether it’s “Vantage Point,” “Transsiberian” or “The Last Stand,” how difficult is it for you to these roles in your second language, English?
Noriega: Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to act in three different languages including Spanish, English and French and Germany. It’s another difficulty when it comes to my performance. Not only do you have work really hard on learning the language and the dialogue, you also have to find your relationship with the language. You can also feel that you are building a character because it is not your language and sometimes, it can help to build a character and I love it.
Having worked on American-based and Spain-based productions, what would you say is the difference between them in terms making movies?
Noriega: The main difference is the filmmaker, the director. Depending on the director, you have different moods, different ways of working, characters and shooting. Another difference is the budget. When you work in the States, they have everything. The director has everything in his hands to use in order to make his films. If you do a movie in Spain, you have to take off the Steadicam because it’s too expensive. In Spain, you shoot with a really, really low budget and less time. Technically, there is no different. At the moment when you shoot and at the moment where they say “Action,” it is exactly the same whether you shoot in the States or a short film in Spain. It’s the same fears, the same doubts, the same everything.
Is the language barrier difficult when you are trying to express something to the director?
Noriega: That’s important because for instance, in “The Last Stand,” director Kim Jee-Woon was from Korea and he didn’t speak English at the time so we had to use two interpreters. It was pretty good considering the difficulties. When he was trying to tell you something in Korean, he was using his body to express what he wanted us to do. When the director is talented, language is not a problem.
In “The Last Stand,” you had a chance to work Arnold Schwarzenegger, especially near the end, where you guys were fighting it out. Could you go into detail in regards to the choreography of the fight and working with someone like Arnold?
Noriega: I never imagined that I was going to work with Arnold. Not only working with Arnold, but fighting with him. I grew up watching his films when I was a kid. The idea of having fighting the Terminator was insane because he is way bigger than me, but it was an amazing experience. He helped me a lot with some of the action scenes. We did work with a stunt coordinator for the choreography of the fight. I have to say that even though he is an icon, he is just like a regular actor. He works really hard and he is always humble. I admired the way he treated me and the way he worked with me.
“A Gun in Each Hand (Una Pistola en Cada Mano)” screens tonight at 9:15pm at the Tower Theater and on Sunday at 6:10pm at Regal South Beach Cinemas. Visit miamifilmfestival.com for more information.