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Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Needed Vocal Surgery After Directing 21 Grams

Alejandro González Iñárritu is known for making some incredibly challenging films. Right from his first feature film, "Amores Perros," the filmmaker was delving into the deepest, darkest, and most haunting elements of the human condition, often in a disturbing or even dispiriting fashion. Still, with the many themes that Iñárritu has explored, old and new, over the course of his career, the director has become a singular voice in modern cinema.

Take his follow-up film and English-language debut, "21 Grams." The film connects three strangers through a deadly hit-and-run that claims the lives of a man and his two young daughters. Cristina (Naomi Watts), who is the man's widow, and Paul (Sean Penn), who receives a heart donation from Cristina's deceased husband, set out on a path of vengeance against the perpetrator, Jack (Benicio Del Toro), and the lives of all three characters spin out in increasingly troubling fashion. However, to hear Iñárritu tell it, telling this dark story was not the toughest part about making "21 Grams" for him.

Iñárritu found that speaking English took a toll on his vocal cords

Alejandro González Iñárritu sat down with GQ to discuss some of the most memorable films from his career, and when it came to "21 Grams," the writer, director, and producer let slip a shocking behind-the-scenes revelation. Apparently, as Iñárritu got acclimated to a new language for his English debut, speaking in a new way began to take a toll on the filmmaker.

"My English is bad, but at that time it was much worse," Iñárritu recalled. "I had to have surgery after because my vocal cords — I was using [them] differently." Admittedly, it's hard to imagine that speaking a new language could take such a toll on your vocal faculties, but it sounds like learning English was decidedly difficult for the director in a way that few have ever described before.

"When you speak English, you have to use differently your cords," Iñárritu went on. "And they [were] raspy, so I got into a surgery." Well, given that the filmmaker has gone on to make award-winning English-language films like "Babel," "The Revenant," and "Birdman" since then, it would seem that despite his insecurity about speaking English, he has become more than adequate at telling a story in the language.