Magazine article Screen International

Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman

Magazine article Screen International

Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman

Article excerpt

The Mexican director of Birdman talks to Jeremy Kay about his tortured creative process and his original vision of a man floating in his underwear.

After making Biutiful, his fourth intense and torrid tale in a row, Alejandro G Inarritu (he has quietly dropped the middle name Gonzalez) craved a change of tone.

"I was a little bit tired of drama," admits the Mexican auteur, wrapped in a sweater, ensconced in the Four Seasons hotel bar in Beverly Hills on a mid-December afternoon.

"I was tired doing what I knew I could do, for better or worse. That state of mind, I don't like. I like to be challenged."

Birdman provided that challenge. The dark comedy about an actor's quest for professional and personal respect bristles with rapid-fire dialogue and bravura camerawork and is utterly unlike anything Inarritu has ever done.

"I really went to something that I didn't know, with a new team, with a new approach, with sets I'd never built, with a new musician," says Inarritu of the film.

Soaring success

The new direction has paid off, with Birdman garnering 10 Bafta nominations, nine Oscar nominations, two Golden Globe wins and a US gross to January 11 of $26.3m through Fox Searchlight in the US.

Birdman sees former Batman star Michael Keaton play a former superhero actor on the comeback trail. Keaton has firmly rejected the notion the film is about him and said, in these pages, the story is much more about Inarritu.

Inarritu ponders for a second - a relatively long pause, as it turns out. "My creative process has always been very tortured," he says. "It's always the fact of questioning yourself. You put something out there and then you question it. That's a necessity.

"We are extraordinarily contradictory and my creative process is very much like that. Yes, it's about that voice that goes one step forward and two steps back, that tells you that you are great and then says you are stupid.

"And that's the part of ego that operates through that and I wanted to do a film about that and it's about me and I guess all of us."

While walking in London three years ago the image of a man levitating hit Inarritu, giving rise to one of Birdman's many startling moments of magical realism.

"I start with a guy floating in his underwear and it ends on the same note, which is we never know what is real and what is not real," the film-maker explains. …

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