By Gary M. Kramer.
Actor Mauricio Ochmann has become a popular leading man in Mexican cinema. He worked steadily in television before achieving some big screen success in hits such as A la mala, a romantic comedy that co-starred Aislinn Derbez, whom he would later marry. Last year, he and Derbez produced and starred in the comedy, Hazlo com hombre/Do It Like a Man, which became a box office sensation in Mexico; it has become the fifth most-seen Mexican film of all time.
Now, Ochmann has produced and stars in Ya Veremos, a genial family comedy-drama about Santi (Emiliano Aramayo), a pre-teen boy who needs an operation to save his eyesight. Wanting to swim with sharks, drive a car, and even see a naked lady, Santi has his divorced parents, Rodrigo (Ochmann) and Alejandra (Fernanda Castillo), help him fulfill his wishes.
Ochmann brings a light comic touch to his role, exaggerating things, such as Rodrigo’s fear of snakes, for a laugh. But the actor also lends some poignancy to his role. A scene of Rodrigo counseling Santi about how blind people can achieve great things and have rich lives, is quite touching.
The actor chatted over the phone about Ya Veremos, his parenting skills, and crossover success.
Mauricio, you tend to play in broad comedies. What is the appeal of these kinds of films, which involves manic, physical comedy?
Hazlo Como Hombre is different kind of comedy than Ya Veremos. Since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to perform in theater, and film, and TV. What I love is that you can change from drama to comedy. The comedic stakes were higher in Hazlo, and I pushed myself to do it – and do different kinds of things. This film is more of a family film, a dramedy with hints of comedy. The story is universal, and the comedy is more situational. it’s about a boy with divorced parents, and it’s about the relationship his parents have – their resentments, which still exist. They still love each other, but they tease each other.
Your characters in A la Mala, Hazlo Como Hombre, and now Ya Veremos seem to all have trouble with women. Are you being typecast as a hapless romantic?
[Laughs] Seems like it! I think that somehow it works, and people can relate to it. It’s fun to play that kind of character. I’m not like that in real life. I’m happily married with two daughters.
Santi teaches Rodrigo about the priorities in life. What are your priorities?
Family. That’s why I chose this project. It’s so important to tell people that if we are so involved in our professional lives, achieving these professional goals, that we don’t see how fortunate we are to have a family. We need to look out for our kids. Otherwise, time passes and you’re like, “Oh man, what did I do with my life?” My priorities are family. Every chance I have, I am with my wife and two daughters. We go out in nature, and I’m happy.
Are you a tough dad who puts limits on your daughters, or are you a big softie?
I try to balance it: to be friends with my daughters, but also their dad. I have to be the one putting limits and educating them by example—being a nice responsible loving father. In the movie, Rodrigo realizes the most important thing in life is to be with his family and take care of his son.
The film is not without heart, as when Rodrigo talks to his son and reassures him should he go blind. Can you talk about finding the sensitivity of your character?
I think the movie says that we don’t have to wait for something terrible or tragic to happen to realize how blessed and fortunate we are to be surrounded by the people we love. That’s the main message of the film. Everyone relates to it; it doesn’t have to do with a culture or a language. When your son has this kind of issue, all you want to do is make him feel happy and tell him he can achieve things even if he goes bind.
Rodrigo is afraid of snakes and sharks. He dyes his hair blue, and delights in watching wrestling, playing paintball, and watching scary movies. He’s a big kid. In what way are you still an 11-year-old boy?
Somehow, Rodrigo is so carried away with life and being responsible professionally with his work that he forgot to be a kid. He’s is having a second childhood with his kid now. I can relate to that because I have a 14-year-old daughter. I was really young when she was born. So, through my daughter, I relived my childhood. My inner child was playing and being another kid with her. That’s something I put in the movie with Rodrigo and Santi.
Rodrigo deals with a big crisis with Santi’s eyesight. How do you handle a crisis? Are you calm or manic?
It depends. I’m usually a calm person. I tell my wife, “Relax, everything will be fine, and were going to get through this.” But sometimes, I go crazy. I’m human!
You’ve started producing films with your wife. You had a smash with Hazlo Como Hombre, and Ya Veremos did very well in Mexico. What is your criteria for the kinds of films you want to make? Pop films, comedies?
We’re developing other projects. We get involved with projects we like, and think have something to share with audiences. We started with these two different comedies and we have other projects which are more intense, and deeper. We’re not married to the type or genre of film we do. We’re lucky these two films did well.
How important is it for you to have a crossover success in America?
Hopefully that will happen. It takes time. A good story that people connect to is a big part of it. Hazlo might not have been the right film for the US market. Let’s see how Ya Veremos does. It’s a family film. [Crossover success] is not something that we are pushing that hard for. We didn’t make Ya Veremos to bring it to the US. Pantelion films thought it would be a good film, so we’re thankful, and fortunate that Pantelion is distributing it.
It may be an obvious question, but what do you have on your bucket list?
Actually, my bucket list is pretty simple. I just want to be with my wife and two kids. I don’t have this rush to achieve. I live moment by moment and embrace my present. If you told me I had a week or a month to live or something terrible would happen, I’d just want to be with my wife and family.
So, you have no dreams of skydiving, or winning an Oscar, or always wanting to see Paris?
Skydiving might be fun. Maybe just travel more. But it’s not like I need something to go, see, or do.
Gary M. Kramer writes about film for Salon, Cineaste, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News, The San Francisco Bay Times, and Film International. He is the author of Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews, and the co-editor of Directory of World Cinema: Argentina, Volumes 1 & 2.