A Novelist's Son Finds His Own Voice On-Screen

Rodrigo Garcia i i

hide captionRodrigo Garcia is the son of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He previously directed the film Nine Lives and various episodes of HBO's In Treatment and Six Feet Under.

Francois Duhamel/Sony Pictures Classics
Rodrigo Garcia

Rodrigo Garcia is the son of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He previously directed the film Nine Lives and various episodes of HBO's In Treatment and Six Feet Under.

Francois Duhamel/Sony Pictures Classics

Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia grew up in a house where storytelling was in the foreground. His father, the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, penned the classics One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera — and would often collaborate with other artists in their living room, Garcia says.

"All of my parents' friends were writers, painters, actors, playwrights — it was all equally good," he tells Terry Gross. "Everything from telling a good joke well to writing a novel: It was all highly regarded."

But Garcia, who directed and wrote the screenplays for the films Nine Lives and Mother and Child, says he never intended to write his own material.

"I was always much more interested in images and being a still photographer, or in camera work," he says. "I never thought that I was going to be a director, let alone a screenwriter. When I sat down to write what would be my first movie, it was hard to write — though I had picked up on some of the way writers write and rewrite, and where inspiration might come from [from my father]."

Garcia's most recent film, Mother and Child, stars Annette Bening, Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts in overlapping narratives, each centering on the bonds between a birth mother and her children, even when that child is placed up for adoption.

Annette Bening, Elpidia Carrillo

hide captionAnnette Bening's character, Karen, deeply regrets being forced to give up for adoption the baby she had when she was 14.

Ralph Nelson/Sony Pictures Classics

Garcia says that while doing research for the film, he focused mainly on memoirs and stories from young unmarried girls who, for reasons of social convention, were forced to hide their pregnancies and then give their babies up for adoption during the 1950s and 1960s.

"The movie is not a treatise on adoption. It's not a primer on adoption," he says. "It's a look at the nature of a forced separation."

Mother and Child is Garcia's fourth feature film. He was also the showrunner on the HBO series In Treatment and has directed episodes of Six Feet Under, Carnivale and The Sopranos.


Interview Highlights

On how his writing differs from his father's

"I write the script that comes out of me. I don't think, 'Is this like him? Is this not like him?' I grew up in a world very different than him. I mean, we grew up in the same household, but he as a kid grew up in 1920s and 1930s, in a small town in Colombia that had seen better days. ... I had an upbringing in Mexico City as a middle-class kid with money who traveled. It's such a different upbringing that I chose something that is an expression of what I've seen and what I've heard. In some ways it's not by design, but I'm glad we work in very different worlds. That way, I haven't had to suffer the comparison of the worlds."

On the TV shows he watched growing up

"A lot of the shows were American. I did, as a kid, watch everything from The Flintstones to The Addams Family to Mr. Ed. The Brady Bunch [was called] La Familia Brady. But also, movies — I was not a movie geek by any standard, but by my teens my father's own taste in film started trickling down to my brother and I. He was a big fan of [Francois] Truffaut in particular and of [Akira] Kurosawa, directors that we were very familiar with."

On using his father as a first reader

"He's someone who reads my scripts when I'm early in pre-production, and he's always been very supportive. In fact, he's an easy reader. In that sense, he's not an easy reader for feedback because he's quick to be supportive. And he's very high on my films and my television work, and shows it off to his friends shamelessly."

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