Gael Garcia Bernal
Birth Date:
November 30, 1978
Birth Place:
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
5' 6''
Famous for:
His role in 'Amores Perros' (2000)
Actor, Producer, Director
The Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England (studied dramatic art for three years)
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Amores Perros


“Talent survives and remains while beauty is diluted.” Gael Garcia Bernal

Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal was launched to international stardom after a breakout performance as Octavio in Alejandro González Iñárritu's critically acclaimed thriller, “Amores Perros” (2000), where he also earned an Ariel Award (Mexico's equivalent of Oscar), a Premio ACE Award and a Chicago International Film Festival Award for his acting. The London's Central School of Speech and Drama alumna secured his position as an international star with the Academy Award nominees “Y Tu Mama” (2001), with close friend Diego Luna, and “The Crime of Father Amaro” (2002), which saw him essay a challenging role as a priest. The actor took home the Venice Film Festival Marcello Mastroianni Award, the Valdivia International Film Festival Award and the Latin America MTV Movie Award for the first and a Mexican Cinema Journalists Award and a Mexican MTV Movie Award for the latter. Bernal continued to give notable performances in “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004, earned a Premio ACE Cinema Award, a BAFTA nomination and a Golden Satellite nomination), “Bad Education” (2004, netted a Chlotrudis Award, a Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Award, a Valdivia International Film Festival Award, a Glitter Award, a Spanish Actors Union nomination and a Cinema Writers Circle nomination), “Babel” (2006, nabbed a Gotham Award, a Palm Springs International Film Festival Award, a San Diego Film Critics Society Award, a Screen Actors Guild nomination, an ALMA nomination, an Imagen Foundation nomination and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Critics Choice nomination), “The Science of Sleep” (2006), “Mammoth” (2009), “Letters to Juliet” (2010) and “A Little Bit of Heaven” (2011). Bernal made his directing debut with the 2007 film “Déficit,” which he also starred in and produced. Along with Diego Luna and Mexican producer Pablo Cruz, he co-founded the production company Canana Films, which focuses on Mexican - and Latin American-themed features that deal with social justice contents.   

Bernal, who was named one of People en Español's “25 Most Beautiful 2002” and one of Empire Magazine's “100 Sexiest Movie Stars in the World 2007,” has been dating actress Dolores Fonzi since the late 2007. They have two children together. Bernal previously dated Vanessa Bauche, Cecelia Suarez (together in 2001) and Natalie Portman (together 2003-2004). Bernal can speak Spanish, English, French and Italian. He mentions Javier Bardem his favorite actor and Emily Watson and Juliette Binoche his favorite actresses. He also idolizes Klaus Kinski, Daniel Day-Lewis and Marcello Mastroianni.     

Father of 2    

Childhood and Family:

Gael Garcia Bernal was born on November 30, 1978, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Jose Luis Garcia, an actor and director, and Patricia Bernal, an actress and former model. His parents owned a theater company, but they divorced when he was young. His mother went on to marry Sergio Yazbek, a photographer. The product of a showbiz family, Gael began acting at an early age, and would spend the most of his teen years working on various telenovelas. Gael took philosophy major at Mexico's national university, UNAM, but the school was closed after a strike. He then left Mexico and traveled to Europe, where he was eventually accepted into the prestigious Central School of Speech and Drama in London, making him the school's first ever Mexican student.    

Gael met Argentine TV and film actress active Dolores Fonzi (born July 19, 1978) on the set of 2000's “Vidas Privadas.” They began a relationship in December 2007. On January 8, 2009, in Madrid, Spain, Gael and Dolores welcomed a son, Lazaro Bernal. Their second child, daughter Libertad, was born on April 7, 2011, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

Bad Education


As a young, Gael Garcia Bernal performed in plays with his thespian parents in Mexico. He went on to appear in Mexican telenovelas like “Teresa” (1989) and “El abuelo y yo” (1992), which also featured  his lifelong friend Diego Luna. In 1996, he starred as Martín, a quiet and shy young milkboy whose friends go on a sexual adventure without him, on the 16 minute comedy film “De tripas, corzon,” which was directed  and written by Antonio Urrutia. The short won the 1996 Silver Ariel for Best Short Fiction Film, the Audience Jury Award and the International Jury Award for Best Fiction - Professionals at the 1997 Algarve International Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Short Film, Live Action.  

While in the acting school in London, Bernal was offered a part in Alejandro González Iñárritu's harsh thriller, “Amores Perros” (2000). He took one week leave from the school to make the audition for the part, and in order to avoid absence, he said he was sick. Playing Octavio, opposite Vanessa Bauche as his sister in law, Susana, the actor experienced a breakthrough success with the role and he was handed a Silver Ariel for Best Actor, the Chicago International Film Festival Silver Hugo for Best Actor, a Premio ACE Cinema for Best Actor for his fine acting. The film itself was both a critical and financial success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000 and won the Ariel Award for Best Picture from the Mexican Academy of Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, among other honors. “Amores Perros” grossed over $20.9  million against a budget of $2.4 million.

Also in 2000, Bernal starred as a native Indian in an episode of the short lived syndicated series “Queen of Swords” called “Honor Thy Father” and appeared in the Mexican film “Cerebro.”  However, it was his success on “Amores Perros” that prompted the twenty something actor to pursue acting more professionally.

Following a performance on the BAFTA nominated short “The Last Post” (2001), which was written by Lee Santana and directed by Dominic Santana, Bernal co-starred with fellow Mexican performer Diego Luna and Spanish actress Maribel Verdú on the international hit “Y Tu Mama” (2001), which was directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuaron. A coming-of-age story about two teenage boys embarking on a road trip with a woman in her late twenties, the film was met with a positive response upon its original release, and won many awards and nominations. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film. The film made over $33.6 million worldwide against an original budget of $5 million. Bernal himself was nominated for a Chicago Film Critics Association for Most Promising Performer and a Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor, and shared (with Luna ) the Venice Film Festival  Marcello Mastroianni Award, the Valdivia International Film Festival Best Actor Award  and the Latin America MTV Movie for MTV North Feed (mostly Mexico) - Best Insult (Mejor Insulto).

The same year, the actor was cast as Jack Davenport on “Sin noticias de Dios” (“Don't Tempt Me”), opposite Penélope Cruz, Demián Bichir and Fanny Ardant. Under the direction of Agustín Díaz Yanes, he received a Cinema Writers Circle (Spain) nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Goya nomination in the same category. Besides, he co-starred with future companion Dolores Fonzi in “Privates Lives” (“Vidas privadas”), which was co-written and helmed by Fito Páez, and starred in the short “El ojo en la nuca,”  which won the Silver Ariel for Best Short Fiction Film, the Special Mention for Best Short/Mid-Length Film at the Havana Film Festival and the Honorary Foreign Film Award at the Student Academy Awards, USA.

2002 saw Bernal portray Che Guevarra in the American television miniseries “Fidel,” about the Cuban revolution and political career of Fidel Castro (played by Víctor Huggo Martin), which aired on Showtime on  January 27, 2002,  Lucy's playwright boyfriend, Gabriel, on the America/France co-production “I'm with Lucy” (2002), starring Monica Potter in the title role, and Padre Amaro in the controversial movie “The Crime of Father Amaro” (2002), which was loosely adapted from the novel “O Crime do Padre Amaro” (1875) by Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queiroz. Directed by Carlos Carrera, “The Crime of Father Amaro” was a huge hit in Mexico and also enjoyed a commercial success in the United States, where it collected over $5.7 million during its limited theatrical release there. The film was nominated for 35 awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe nomination in the same category, with 21 wins. For his performance in the film, Bernal received Mexican Cinema Journalists' Silver Goddess for Best Actor, a Mexican MTV Movie for Favorite Actor, plus a nomination for Sexiest Scene, and a Chicago Film Critics Association nomination for Most Promising Performer.  

After starring in the psychological thriller “Dot the I” (2003), opposite Natalia Verbeke and James D'Arcy, “Cuban Blood” (“Dreaming of Julia,” 2003), with Harvey Keitel, Bernal delivered an intense performance as a young Che Guevara, who undergoes a transformation while on a road trip, in the biopic “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004), which was helmed by Brazilian director Walter Salles and written by Puerto Rican playwright José Rivera. The film earned generally positive reviews from critics, and won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song, in addition to another 27 wins and 37 nominations. For his bravura acting, Bernal won a Premio ACE Cinema  for Best Actor and was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and a Golden Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama. Later that same year, the actor was cast as Juan / Ángel / Zahara on the Spanish drama movie “Bad Education,” which was directed, written and co-produced by Pedro Almodóvar.  
It received excellent reviews from critics and scored over $40 million at the box office (against a budget of $5 million). Bernal picked up a Chlotrudis for Best Actor, the Jury Award for Best Actor at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, a Valdivia International Film Festival for Best Actor, a Glitter for Best Actor, a Spanish Actors Union nomination for Film: Lead Performance, Male and a Cinema Writers Circle nomination for Best Actor.

Bernal starred as Elvis Valderez in the America/UK co-production drama film “The King” (2005), about a troubled man, recently discharged from the Navy, who travels to Corpus Christi, Texas, in search of the father he's never met, as Stéphane Miroux in the fantasy/comedy film “The Science of Sleep” (2006), for director/writer Michel Gondry, and as Santiago in Alejandro González Iñárritu's “Babel” (2006), opposite Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The latter role brought the actor a Gotham for Best Ensemble Cast, a  Palm Springs International Film Festival for Ensemble Cast Award, a San Diego Film Critics Society for Best Ensemble Performance, a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, an ALMA nomination for Outstanding Actor - Motion Picture, an Imagen Foundation nomination for Best Supporting Actor – Film and Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice nomination for Best Acting Ensemble.

In 2007, Bernal made his feature directing debut with “Déficit,” which he also co-produced (with Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz) and starred in. The drama premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2007. He had a supporting role in Hector Babenco's “El pasado” (2007), co-starred with Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo in Fernando Meirelles' “Blindness” (2008), an adaptation of the 1995 novel of the same name by the Portuguese writer José Saramago, reunited with Diego Luna for the Carlos Cuarón film “Rudo y Cursi” (2008),  in which they played a pair of half-brothers named Tato and Beto, respectively, co-starred with Michelle Williams in the Swedish movie “Mammoth” (2009), which was written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, and appeared with Isaach De Bankolé, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton in the American film “The Limits of Control” (2009), for filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.  He also directed and produced the  “8” segment, titled “The Letter” (2008).

2010-2011 saw roles in such films as “Letters to Juliet,” an American romantic drama fdirected by Gary Winick, “Even the Rain,” a    Spanish drama directed by Icíar Bollaín, UK's “Regret Not Speaking,” opposite John Hurt, the Nicole Kassell directed romance/comedy “A Little Bit of Heaven,” opposite  Kate Hudson, and Julia Loktev's “The Loneliest Planet,” which had its international premiere at the 2011 Locarno International Film Festival.

Recently, appearing in the short film “Zalet” and starring with Will Ferrell and Diego Luna in the Matt Piedmont directed comedy “Casa de mi Padre” (both 2012), the actor will play Roberto Duran in the biopic “Hands of Stone,” which will be released in the US in 2013, and Zorro in “Zorro Reborn” (2014). He is rumored to play Fr. Francisco Garrpe in Martin Scorsese's film “Silence” (2013), starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Fr. Cristóvão Ferreira, and is set to star in the Spanish drama “No” (2014), directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Pedro Peirano.


Premio ACE: Cinema - Best Supporting Actor, “Even the Rain,” 2011
Provincetown International Film Festival: Excellence in Acting Award, 2008
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Ensemble Cast Award, “Babel,” 2007
Gotham: Best Ensemble Cast, “Babel,” 2006
San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS): Best Ensemble Performance, “Babel,” 2006
Chlotrudis: Best Actor, “Bad Education,” 2005
Glitter: Best Actor, “Bad Education,” 2005
Premio ACE: Cinema - Best Actor, “The Motorcycle Diaries,” 2005
Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival: Jury Award, Best Actor, “Bad Education,” 2004
Valdivia International Film Festival: Best Actor, “Bad Education,” 2004
Cannes Film Festival: Chopard Trophy, Male Revelation, 2003
MTV Movie: Favorite Actor (Actor Favorito), “The Crime of Father Amaro,” 2003
Mexican Cinema Journalists: Silver Goddess, Best Actor (Mejor Actor), “The Crime of Father Amaro,” 2003
MTV Movie : MTV North Feed (mostly Mexico) - Best Insult (Mejor Insulto), “Y Tu Mamá También,” 2002
Valdivia International Film Festival: Best Actor, “Y Tu Mamá También,” 2001
Venice Film Festival: Marcello Mastroianni Award, “Y Tu Mamá También,” 2001
Ariel: Silver Ariel, Best Actor (Mejor Actor), “Amores Perros,” 2001
Chicago International Film Festival: Silver Hugo, Best Actor, “Amores Perros,” 2000
Premio ACE: Cinema - Best Actor, “Amores Perros,” 2000

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