"I love the Cuban people and their culture, which may be part of what attracted me to these works," he says. "The play talks about so many things I'm interested in -- especially the idea of love as being healing -- and the Geffen has such a great reputation. And yes, I know that a two-character play can be very demanding and require a lot of concentration. Two years ago, in Mexico, my brother and I did an adaptation of Stones in My Pocket, where we each played seven characters. But it's a privilege to do this play."
As for the challenge of tackling a young Castro, Bechir was eager to jump at the opportunity. "It wasn't quite the project one jumps into lightly or superficially, and I'm the type of actor, that I once I say yes, I go overboard," he says. "I did a lot of research to play Castro; I read and watched and listened to whatever I could; I worked with a vocal coach; it was basically breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me. But I'm pleased. When I saw the film, I told my girlfriend that I didn't recognize me at all."
As it happens, Bechir is best known in this country for playing a Mexican: the corrupt mayor Esteban -- and the lover of Mary Louise Parker's Nancy -- on Showtime's Weeds. "To be honest, I never watched it before they offered me the role," he says. So then I watched the first three seasons in one sitting, and I thought how lucky I would be to land on a show with such amazing characters and a great cast. And it's fine that Esteban is a bad guy. Mexicans are not all terrible and not all fantastic; we have many aspects, like everyone else. And with a great and beautiful actress like Mary Louise in front of you, it's easy to do great work."
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