Season 2 of the FX crime thriller The Bridge has Detective Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and her Mexican counterpart, Detective Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir) teamed up again to when the body of a cartel member is found on U.S. soil. Brutal crimes and dangerous enemies will see them pulled into a complex web of drug running, money laundering and police corruption. This season also stars Ted Levine, Matthew Lillard, Emily Rios, Thomas M. Wright, Annabeth Gish, Franka Potente, Nathan Phillips, Abraham Benrubi and Lyle Lovett.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Demián Bichir talked about how excited he was to explore new avenues of the story for The Bridge Season 2, that he likes the way the show doesn’t label one country as good and the other as bad, the importance of keeping the promises you set up over the course of a season, having his brother Bruno on the show this season, working with such a talented cast, and playing a character that is very clear about where he wants to go and how he wants things to be done. He also talked about the experience of shooting his directorial debut, Refugio (which he also wrote, produced and starred in), that he can’t wait to direct again, and how he’d like to direct an episode of The Bridge. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
DEMIAN BICHIR: It’s difficult to know because a lot of things change, all the time. Many, many things change. Even if you talk about the new arc, not only for the series but for your character, many things end up changing. So, I got excited. It made me happy that they had new avenues to explore. But, a lot of things still change.
As an actor who’s received acclaim both in the U.S. and Mexico, what does it mean to you to be on a show that explores the U.S. and Mexico, in this way, that’s presenting it to be in such an interesting way that many people haven’t been exposed to?
BICHIR: Interesting is a good word, and I’m glad you’re using that word because it is that, at least to me. I think it’s very interesting how an American network chooses to tell this story. We don’t name one country the good guy and the other country the bad guy. We talk about this co-responsibility that we share, in everything. So, whenever you hear or see violence, there is violence on both sides of the border, or it’s both country’s responsibility. When we talk about trafficking with weapons, with human beings or with drugs, we talk about it on both sides of the border. When we talk about corruption, there’s corruption on both sides of the border. That’s what I think is interesting. I’m from Mexico, so when I see a Mexican portrayed in the American market on TV or films, you better do it right because you won’t fool me. I’m sure no one really cares on this side of the border, if they get it right or not, but all the way from Mexico, to another 120 countries where the show goes, they will be able to tell the difference.
Don’t you also feel that it’s important that the dialogue is allowed to be in its native language with the subtitles?
BICHIR: Yes, but it’s not just about Spanish, as a language. If you think about portraying Americans, for example, in a Russian film, it all depends on where the American is from, if they went to school or not, and if they’re well-educated or not. Is it an American from Texas, or an American from Brooklyn? Things would change with the vocabulary and the accent. We take care of that on The Bridge. There are different regions, backgrounds and ways of speaking the language in Mexico. It’s cool to get it right.
What have you enjoyed about Season 2?
BICHIR: I like the fact that Marco is lonely, or lonelier. He’s totally alone now, by himself, and I like that. It’s part of the story now. He did go through a lot, not only emotionally, but through a lot of changes, ever since he lost everything. He’s now alone in the world. He’s his own good man. That’s something I enjoy a lot, as an actor.
Has it been important to you to follow through on all of the story threads that were started in Season 1?
BICHIR: You have to keep your promises. If we promise something in Season 1, we have to continue that, if we’re lucky enough to have a second season. And now, everything that we’re planting in Season 2, if we get to a third season, we will have to take it there and use that. When your show keeps coming back, year after year, you have a responsibility because your fans know your show sometimes better than you do. You can’t play games with them. You have to be really focused and concentrated, and play at your best in every department. The writing staff has to be fantastic. Our director line-up has to be great. Everything has to be better and better. Your fans keep track of the details.
BICHIR: I wish I had more scene with all of them, not only with the new actors and characters, but with many of the cast that’s been there for two years already. I’m glad I have a lot of scenes with Diane [Kruger]. I had a few scenes with my brother, Bruno, playing Mr. Cerisola, and that’s been a joy. That’s been a fantastic thing. My brother and I have worked together many times in the past, in films and in the theater, but this is the first time we’ve worked on TV together, and in the U.S. It makes the whole thing more special. And being in the same scene with him, on this show, has been great.
Were you responsible for him joining the show this season?
BICHIR: I wish I had that power. I would bring many other actors on. Bruno came to the premiere of Season 1, last year, and that’s when he met the whole gang. And then, Elwood Reid fell in love with his face. He said, “What a fantastic face your brother has! We should write something for him!” I thought, “Yeah, of course, we should!” And then, a year later, he did. They created this character for him. It’s great for Bruno and it’s an incredible blessing for me, but I think it’s great for the show. To have an actor such as Bruno is a big asset.
What’s it like to have Lyle Lovett around?
BICHIR: He can do anything and everything. He’s a true artist. What a fantastic face! I wish I had that mask. There are a few examples of great musicians who are fantastic actors, as well, and he’s one of them. The rock star that I think would be a fantastic actor is Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know if he ever tried, but I’m sure he would be a great actor. And there’s David Bowie.
BICHIR: When you have great scripts, everything is very easy and fun. The first week of beginning the new season, it was so difficult for me to find the character. You put it behind you for a whole year, and then you get it back and it’s not just putting a jacket on, and that’s that. It’s not like just putting on a hat. So, it took awhile. I remember that we were doing this scene, and I was doing one take after another because it was difficult for me to get back into it. And then, I told her, “God, I don’t know where the character is.” And she said, “Me neither! I thought it was just me!” It’s tricky, but it’s been fantastic. Our characters went through a lot in Season 1, and their relationship was tested on so many different levels that the way they got back together this season was very interesting. It’s pretty much how the U.S. and Mexico work. We might have our differences and we might not agree with every single thing that the other does on their side, but we need each other. Marco and Sonya respect each other, very much. They probably love each other, too. There is an endearment that comes from respect. They care for each other. But also, throughout Season 2, we’ve seen that trust being challenged, especially by Sonya, after she finds out that Marco has this past of knowing these bad guys and working with them. But in a world like the one Marco lives in, you need to deal with heaven and hell, at the same time, and on the same day sometimes.
Is it more difficult for Marco to draw a line and to keep things from blurring?
BICHIR: It is more difficult, the way things are, but not in terms of his own nature. He knows who he is, and nothing can change that. He is very clear about where he wants to go and how he wants things to be done, and he will continue to work in that direction. Maybe some people might think that things are a little more blurry, but nothing is going to change his nature. He believes that he represents a difference in a corrupt system.
You also directed your first feature, Refugio, which you also wrote, produced and acted in. How was that experience?
BICHIR: It was fantastic! I knew it was going to be pleasant, and I knew that I was going to have such a good time. I knew that, ever since I wanted to do it. All I know now is that I want to do it again and again and again, as many times as I can, for the rest of my life. It is a different way of approaching the same thing we do. More than learning anything, the things that I already knew became more clear. I think there is a director in every actor. Not everyone will actually fulfill that, but it’s a natural way to go. We solve a lot of problems on set, too, all the time. Sometimes it’s really weird that you’re not involved or need in the whole process. To have a voice in every decision made, from day one, is something that we don’t get to have very often. You can only have it if it’s your project and you direct it.
How has the post-production process been, when you’re looking at the other actor’s performances?
BICHIR: That’s something I enjoy very much. Sometimes directors invite their friends over to be a part of a first cut screening, but that doesn’t happen with every project. With The Bridge, we shoot and I go home. They’re very nice about showing us some material sometimes and they listen to our opinion, but our word is not the last word. When you direct your own project, you call all of the shots. That’s something that I like, especially if it’s something that I wrote. You know exactly what you want.
Have you thought about directing an episode of the show?
BICHIR: Oh, yeah! We talked about it once. Whenever they’re ready, if they want me, I can do it.
The Bridge airs on Wednesday nights on FX.