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Sir David Frost's final screen interview: Gael García Bernal lured into Arsenal admission

Bernal also quizzed on Che Guevara's legacy and the war on drugs
  • @adamsherwin10

It is a typical Sir David Frost interview – after a series of gentle probings, the seasoned inquisitor elicits a surprising confession from his subject.

But actor Gael García Bernal’s humorous admission, that he wanted to change his lifetime football allegiance from Spurs to Arsenal, would be the last revelation procured by Sir David, in what proved to be his final interview.

The encounter, screened on Al Jazeera English, took place in Mexico City on July 5, less than two months before Sir David’s death from a heart attack, aged 74.

Sir David flew to Mexico from London to meet the actor, 34, who has filmed a special introduction to “the last interview ever conducted by Sir David Frost”.

The camera shows the actor greeting a rather stiff-moving Sir David before settling into a lavishly-appointed room for an intimate conversation.

“Suddenly I was head-to-head with the most famous interviewer in the world,” says Bernal in his voiceover. The cameras follow the pair as Bernal takes Frost for lunch and then on a visit to his production office.

During the hour-long broadcast, Frost, suited and well-briefed on his subject, quizzes Bernal on Che Guevara’s legacy, the war on drugs, the actor’s homosexual kiss in the Oscar-nominated Y Tu Mama Tambien and Mexico’s relationship with the United States.

Bernal, who played Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries, describes the failure to place Chile’s General Pinochet under trial before his death as “one of the great injustices”.

Lamenting the “huge inequality” in Mexico and its murderous drug battles, Bernal claims that “the possibility of legalising or decriminalising marijuana is around the corner in many parts of the world.”

A relaxed Sir David questions whether Bernal could make his politically-committed films in Hollywood. The actor volunteers that “the US studio system is not as flexible. I could not be as daring. The structures do not allow it.”

Sir David is merely building towards his knockout blow. Both he and Bernal considered careers as professional footballers, 50 years apart, before settling for lives in front of the camera. 

“The only thing I worry about in your affection for football of course, is that you did choose Tottenham Hotspur as your English team and not my team Arsenal,” Sir David ventures.

Like many before him in the hot seat, Bernal cracks. “I know, and that was a conscious choice which I think I regret in a way. I chose Tottenham just because Arsenal was winning everything but now I enjoy a lot Arsenal. I like their philosophy. I like that it represents London because it's players from all over the world.”

“And they need your support now because we haven't had a trophy for seven years,” presses Sir David. “Maybe I should go and just play one season!,” agrees the actor.

The revelation may not be as earth-shaking as President Nixon’s confession but Sir David is visibly delighted.

Frost’s final question is: “What would you like to leave in a sentence, describing your life?” He greets the reply, essentially to have made a difference, by shaking hands with Bernal, saying with warmth: “Thank you so much for a very memorable time. Thanks a million.” It’s a sentiment many viewers observing Frost’s screen finale will feel inclined to share.

The Frost Interview, 9pm Friday, Saturday midday and repeated on Al Jazeera English - Freeview channel 83, Sky Guide 514 and Virgin 622.

It will be available online thereafter at AlJazeera.com and on the channel's mobile apps.