Every ounce of admiration Demián Bichir doles out for other actors, for the talent on on-set generosity of those he calls “the greats”… is reciprocated.
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[eltdf_dropcaps type=”normal” color=”” background_color=””]O[/eltdf_dropcaps]f the celebrated Bichir Nájera, he’s the middle child. This soccer-loving vagabond was born August 1, 1963 in Mexico City and by age 3 he graced the stage at Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts); he knew that early that he could do anything in life. Son of Maricruz Nájera and Alejandro Bichir, a stage actress and stage director respectively; brother of Bruno and Odiseo, with whom he has shared the Mexican stage on several occasions. On the stage he’s performed Eugene O’Neill’s Ah Wilderness!, Peter Shaffer’s Equus, Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound and The Odd Couple, and Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata. In 2008 he made his US stage debut with By the Waters of Babylon at the Geffen Play House in Los Angeles. From a nest of artistic culture, it’s only logical that Demián Bichir developed as an actor; but his ingenuity, creativity, commitment and preoccupation for the expanded and common life of his country consolidate his role as a chronicler of time in cinema.
With a childhood spent in theater and Canal Once (Channel Eleven) in Azcapotzalco, Tlatelolco and the State of Mexico, Bichir has worked and learned among the greats, juggling his school performance and his art. At age 13 he was already a member of Mexico’s National Theater Company and at 15 he was performing lectern theater on Canal Once, along with actors like Joaquín Cordero. In theater he’s been in several plays under the direction of world – renowned masters such as José Tamayo, Clifford Williams and José Quintero. With his brother Bruno he starred in Rojo amanecer (1989) a tale about the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, which gave his career a push.
At age 22 he traded acting for preparing guacamole at a New York restaurant and in 1994 he moved to Los Angeles for four years. Like many, he arrived with a tourist’s visa and luckily, he slowly obtained the necessary papers to work regularly. His first part in American television was in the film En el tiempo de las mariposas (2001) next to Salma Hayek. Epigmenio Ibarra found in Demián his commander Alfonso Carbajal for his soap opera Nada personal, a character that later appeared in Demasiado corazón. In 1992 he fought for the lead role as Mauricio in Fernando Sariñana’s Hasta morir, for which he won the Ariel and a long friendship with the director. With a performance by Bichir that was nominated for the Ariel, Sexo, pudor y lágrimas broke box office records in 1999 and became the highest grossing Mexican film in history.
Diversifying, he did the Latin-American dub for the character of Aladdin in Aladdin (1992), The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996); years later he dubbed the character of Tulio in the Latin American version of The Road to El Dorado (2000). He had previously dubbed Prince Eric and Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid (1989) and Apollo Blue in The Jetsons Movie (1990). In the last few years, his face has been known for important film and television productions in Mexico and Hollywood. With his hand in the creation of his characters, Bichir has played a town hero in Fuera del cielo, Miguel Hidalgo in Hidalgo, and even Fidel Castro in Che (2008), for which he stretched Maradona’s hand in Cannes. Another revolutionary in his filmography is Emiliano Zapata in Zapata: amor en rebeldía (2004). He currently stars in FX’s The Bridge and will direct Refugio, based on a screenplay he wrote. His versatility has taken him across several borders. He dressed up in the suit of Esteban Reyes, the Tijuana politician from TV’s Weeds; and climbed to the top of a palm tree as Carlos Galindo, the gardener in A Better Life (2011) who runs around an uncertain Los Angeles in his rickety truck in a performance that got him an Oscar nomination in 2012. When he’s not in character, Demián Bichir is a countryman in LA and a passionate follower of Guadalajara’s soccer team Chivas. He also owns a restaurant in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood.
In 1998, Carlos Fuentes insisted on participating in Bichir’s adaptation of La Región más transparente, for its fortieth anniversary, directed by José Ramón Enríquez. Almost two decades later, after directing him in Machete Kills (2013), Robert Rodríguez recommended him to play Bob The Mexican in The Hateful Eight (2016), Quentin Tarantino’s most recent film.
There’s an intention behind every play and film that Demián Bichir performs, and he’s learned to play in a way that his games become his work. He’s an actor with a talent to behold who is constantly inventing possibilities; he chooses his gigs because of the challenge they represent, but also through a set of principles, a political consciousness and caring. His creativity takes flight in the complexity of characters that are not always warmly received, who inhabit twisted imaginations, violence and antagonisms that exist outside the screen.