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Why Gerardo From Wasp Network Looks So Familiar

Netflix has added a buzzy new international Cold War drama to its ample streaming catalog, and this one definitely packs a sting.

After a popular debut at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, French director Olivier Assayas' Wasp Network was picked up for international distribution by Netflix. Since June 19, subscribers have had the opportunity to find out for themselves just what all the festival heat was about. The spy flick is adapted from a book entitled The Last Soldiers of the Cold War by Brazilian journalist Fernando Morais. In it, Morais tells the story of communist spies living in America during the tail end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. While most people do not typically associate the '90s with Cold War tensions, Morais' work draws attention to the potent distrust between the United States and the Castro regime — a state-of-play in global affairs that endured long after the fall of the Berlin Wall

In addition to its juicy plot, Wasp Network has attracted deserved attention for its steamy cast. Penélope Cruz and Édgar Ramírez star as Olga and René Gonzaléz, the pair of Cuban spies at the center of the film's narrative. Supporting them in the role of Wasp Network director Gerardo Hernández is yet another aggressively attractive star, Gael García Bernal, and if he looks familiar, it's probably because his handsome face has graced the big screen more than a few times before.

A young Gael García Bernal went on a tragic road trip in Y Tu Mamá También

García Bernal has been in the industry since he was a teenager. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico to creative parents, which no doubt helped position him for a fecund career in cinema. His mother, Patricia Bernal, was a noted actress and model, while his father, José Ángel García, was an actor and director. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that upstart writer-director Alfonso Cuarón deployed his unimpeachable eye for talent to identify García Bernal and cast him as Julio Zapata in the Gravity director's brilliant breakthrough film, Y Tu Mamá También.

Y Tu Mamá stars García Bernal opposite another Mexican breakout star, Diego Luna. The two play a pair of teenage boys who set out on a sordid road trip with an older woman (Maribel Verdú). The story challenges traditional notions of machismo as the two boys initially compete for the older woman's affection on a path toward ultimately exploring forbidden feelings for each other. This deeply personal journey is set against the backdrop of Vicente Fox's 1999 political coup to unseat the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had controlled Mexico's presidency for over 70 years. García Bernal and Luna were both lauded for their masterful handling of the movie's complex psycho-sexual themes. Despite a minor scandal over the film's rating, it went on to become the highest box office opening in Mexican cinema history.

Y Tu Mamá made Cuarón an instant sensation, catapulting him to the upper echelons of the industry, while its two young stars went on to enjoy similar success. 

Gael García Bernal hunted a famous Chilean poet

Y Tu Mamá También was the kind of film that made everyone sit up and take notice — and not just inside the Mexican film scene. The success of Cuarón's film opened up a world of opportunity for García Bernal, and Hollywood was quick to pounce. In the years after Y Tu Mamá, the young actor landed roles in the Che Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries, Brad Pitt's criminally underrated Babel, Lukas Moodysson's Mammoth, and the 2008 science-fiction thriller Blindness, a film which includes a speculative element that should sound familiar to fans of Apple TV+'s Jason Momoa-starrer See. Each successive film presented a new opportunity and challenge for García Bernal, but it was ultimately his starring role in 2016's Neruda that really allowed him to stretch his talent.

In the film, García Bernal plays Óscar Peluchonneau, a young Chilean police officer charged with rounding up Communist fugitives — including the Nobel Prize-winning poet — after the election of the South American nation's new president. Then-Senator Neruda speaks out against the dictatorial move to round up communist sympathizers, an action that makes him public enemy number one as far as the incoming administration is concerned. As the man on the hunt for the sympathetic Neruda, García Bernal actually manages to bring quite a bit of humanity to what could be an otherwise sinister role. His purpose-driven attempt to apprehend Neruda bears an aesthetic resemblance to Inspector Javert's dogged pursuit of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables

Gael García Bernal starred opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Kindergarten Teacher

Poetry seems to be a running theme in García Bernal's career. In 2018, he landed a role in the Netflix original film The Kindergarten Teacher, officially making him a multi-platform streaming star. In the film, he plays Simon, a poetry instructor not at all impressed with the work of Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the titular early childhood educator trapped in a loveless marriage and stuck with two teenage kids who barely acknowledge her presence. 

As Simon, it's interesting to watch García Bernal get so harsh with the struggling Spinelli. Toward the end of the film, when he discovers that she plagiarized a piece of work, he comes down especially hard. His reaction is pretty justified, since he more or less sleeps with her on the basis of his attraction to the plagiarized work. 

The streaming movie is actually an American adaptation of an Israeli film of the same name, but the American version is the one you want to track down — mostly because it includes Gael García Bernal.

Gael García Bernal brought Mozart to the jungle

Even considering the actor's dense resume, the role he is perhaps best known for is Rodrigo De Souza on Amazon's niche prestige drama Mozart in the Jungle. Over the course of the series' four-season run, García Bernal was one of only two actors to appear in all 40 episodes. The series was developed by an all-star producing team, which included Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Alex Timbers and Paul Weisz. They cast García Bernal in the lead male role as the new conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra. That makes him the titular Mozart, in case you were wondering. 

The series' plot is loosely based on a memoir by oboist Blaire Tindall entitled Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music. Throughout its run, Mozart in the Jungle — and García Bernal, in particular — earned rave reviews from critics as well as several Primetime Emmy AwardsGarcía Bernal was nominated in 2017 for his performance, but unfortunately didn't eke out the win. 

When the industry-wide production shutdown hit as a result of COVID-19, García Bernal was already in pre-production on a new movie entitled Z, in which he is perfectly cast to play Zorro, the famous masked avenger — so we all have that to look forward to.