Directed by Roger Ross Williams, Amazon Prime Video’s biographical film ‘Cassandro’ revolves around the life of Saúl Armendáriz, who is known as Cassandro in the global wrestling circles. The film explores Cassandro’s rise as an exótico, his relationship with his mother Yocasta and his father Eduardo, and his life as a gay man. Gael García Bernal, who is known for his appearances in ‘Amores Perros,’ ‘Babel,’ ‘The Motorcycle Diaries,’ and ‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ plays the luchador in the drama movie. Naturally, the viewers must be eager to know whether the acclaimed actor learned wrestling to play the superstar. Well, let us provide the answer!
Does Gael García Bernal Know Wrestling in Real Life?
Yes, Gael García Bernal did learn wrestling for ‘Cassandro.’ The actor trained extensively to master the art of lucha libre, a style of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico. The real-life Cassandro, the inspiration behind Bernal’s character, is a luchador and the actor had to learn this particular style of wrestling to play the former. “It was really really tiring but mainly it was hard on the bones and the muscles. You really have to slam yourself in the back in the ring. You have to do it like a hundred times just for warming up,” Bernal told Vulture about his learning/training period for the film.
Although learning lucha libre was not on Bernal’s bucket list, the actor’s dedication to the character made him go to extreme lengths to learn certain wrestling techniques and movements. “Lucha libre is an incredibly hard sport but once you start doing it, you just don’t realize how really hard it is, how monumentally hard it is. I cannot even put adjectives to it because it is just lucha libre; it is mythological wrestling. It’s fighting against superheroes and images because also, it is a performative sport as well. So, you have to embody the character. You have to play with the audience. So, it was incredibly tiring and the film doesn’t respect the organic timing or the biological timing of the cells,” the actor told Collider.
Bernal had to do wrestling for twelve hours a day at times while filming the movie. He revealed that the filming process, which included extensive wrestling, was tiring not only for him but also for the wrestlers who were sharing the ring with the actor. “It is a stylized way of interpreting or acting. You have to fight against being incredibly tired,” Bernal added to Collider about integrating wrestling and acting. “It took us a lot of sweat and hurt and pain doing the lucha libre scenes. And that was quite heavy because we had to train a lot and we had to do it for real as well as portraying the wonderful character of Cassandro,” the actor told Los Angeles Times.
Learning certain wrestling moves was challenging for Bernal. “There was one I wasn’t able to do, called the Cassandro Bomb and it is basically, he jumps off the third rope and does a somersault with the other wrestler. […] It’s kind of crazy. It’s a difficult one. […] That one, I was excited to learn. I didn’t learn it because obviously, if I did it, then we wouldn’t be able to continue filming because I would be hurting myself a lot,” the actor added in the Los Angeles Times interview.
Despite these challenges, Bernal commendably learned wrestling and completed the lucha libre scenes doing real stunts. The actor drew inspiration from his Mexican culture to train hard and play Cassandro with utmost dedication.