Observations: Will Ferrell's guide to speaking Spanish without speaking it

 

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The Independent Culture

In Casa de mi Padre, a soap-opera spoof about Mexican drug lords, Will Ferrell plays the part of a noble ranchero who falls for his brother's chica, speaking perfect Spanish throughout.

"Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal [the film's other stars] actually do speak Spanish, so Will had to work really hard to keep up with them," says director Matt Piedmont. "He genuinely didn't understand what he was saying sometimes, as he'd learnt it all phonetically."

Linguistic precision – and Ferrell's deadpan delivery – was necessary however to maintain the earnestness that makes the film such a spot-on send-up of the "telenovela" – the hammy Latin American soaps – along with tropes such as continuity errors, shameless product placement and ridiculous family feuds that end in wedding shoot-outs.

"The stakes are always so high in telenovelas. Even if people are just having a regular conversation they take it so seriously. The characters in this movie really don't know it's a comedy."

As the prodigal son-turned-bad and the white-suit-wearing villain, Luna and García Bernal bolster the farce with overblown dramatics. "Diego's not just playing the role of Raul; he's Diego playing a bad actor playing Raul. It's meta," says Piedmont. Meta? It's totally loco.

'Casa de mi Padre' is out now

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