The Mexican actor made his debut as director with a documentary about Julio César Chávez and got in the ring with

By People Staff
Updated April 30, 2007 11:00 AM

Mexican star Diego Luna, who made his first appearance as a director in the Tribeca Film Festival in New York with his Chávez documentary, talked to about his “film fatherhood.” He also told us with whom he plans to divvy up box-office sales and what he will do when it premieres in Mexico.

With so many ideas for a movie, why did you decide to direct this one about Chávez's life?
This may sound crazy, but it's a very personal story because Julio César Chavéz was part of my childhood, when I became a man, when I started to form opinions about things, when I started to be critical, when I became aware of many things. He's a Mexican legend.

What made you think it was a good idea?
When I first went to see a boxing match in Las Vegas, Julio was sitting next to me, and it was a very powerful experience. It was a fight between José Luis Castillo and Corrales, and the images became etched in my mind for a long time. I realized that I wanted to tell a boxing story and that next to me, I had the great champ, my hero. I saw him react, interact, as if it were the first time he was seeing a fight, excited, screaming, suffering with Castillo, and I realized that I really wanted to get to know the person behind that great legend.

You've always worked in controversial movies. Does this one have that element also?
In addition to everything I've told you, I wanted to address our ingratitude as a public, how we forget these stories, how quickly we forget. Julio Cesar is a 44-year-old man, is much younger than my father, and I was interested in showing what happens with these fast-lane careers…What happens after the fact with those human beings? I was interested in watching their everyday daily lives, their daily inner struggles.

How did he feel when he saw your finished product?
He was very touched, he liked it and at the end he told me: “It's a beautiful movie.” And for him to use that word, well, it took two and a half years for me to hear it … and I… relaxed.

And what would have happened if he'd been critical?
He could have punched me out! You have to be very mature, because my film is not a booklet about his life, it includes his glory days, but also the fall and the point in which he is today, and it can't be easy to see yourself on the screen like that, and it can't be easy to see your story told, not so closely.

What reaction are you expecting with this movie?
Well, (he lowers his head)…I don't know. I haven't slept much lately, thinking about what might happen. I'm very nervous and also anxious to watch the film with the public… I have high expectations. This took a lot of time, a lot of energy. It's also a hard period, because the second you deliver the movie, it's no longer yours.

Do you plan to give Julio César part of the film revenues?
Yes, of course. He's also an owner of this movie. I offered him a percentage of earnings so he'd let me do it, and I had total creative freedom.

Did you tell him not to take you into the ring if things didn't come out as expected?
(Laughs) Yes, he knows. This is a business, and if there are profits, he'll be part of that. Plus, he will get the best reward, because it's his story.

What is the difference between going to a premiere as an actor and doing it as a director?
It's a lot alike because you always feel nervous, but it's very different, it's deeper, because you're talking about my baby. I compare this, making a movie, to the closest thing to becoming a dad – that is, without having had the experience of being a father.