- Created: Friday, 07 April 2017 16:30
- Published: Friday, 07 April 2017 16:57
Gone are the days when white actors painted their face brown to play Native Indians and Mexicans in Westerns. AMC’s THE SON breaks with the past to reflect historically accurate Mexican-Americans and Native Indians. Carlos Bardem, one of the Hispanic actors, is glad to be part of this production and we’re talking to him about the new western.
Premiering Saturday, April 8, AMC’s THE SON is based on Philipp Meyer’s 2013 book by the same name. The western drama depicts two Texan families vying for land during the bloody rise of America as a superpower through the Texas oil empire. Spanish actor Carlos Bardem’s Pedro Garcia character takes on Pierce Brosnan’s ruthless Eli McCullough for control of Texas land.
“One [family] represents old Texas and the other the new Texas - there will be an open war,” teases Bardem. “One of them is going to prevail.”
While THE SON’s characters are fictional, the backdrop is historically based on the struggles Mexican citizens faced when the United States annexed Mexican territories through the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty which ended the Mexican-American war in 1848. Mexico ceded to the United States nearly all the territory now included in the states of New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, and western Colorado for $15 million. Mexican citizens living in the annexed areas where guaranteed full civil rights as American citizens.
Given that backdrop, the Garcias and the McCullough’s wealthy families fight over disputed lands in a border town. Greed and racism is the underlying theme of the AMC show says Bardem. Issues such as border conflicts and rights of humans is not something of the past. Bardem says the 10-episode season reflects relevant themes we’re experiencing today in the United States. ‘It speaks about really relevant things,” says the Spanish native who believes fans will be partially attracted to the show because of that.
As part of the research process for the actors, AMC producers brought in a professor from Texas State University to give lectures about the time period. Bardem, himself a history buff, holds a degree in history. “I’m fascinated by history,” says the actor. In addition, he read the book by Philipp Meyer, and the author and screenwriter was on set at all times to answer questions about the historical backdrop.
Classic movie westerns have depicted Mexicans as bandits or poor villagers, but THE SON shows a side we’ve rarely seen on screen which is that of the wealthy Mexican landowners who suddenly became strangers and foreigners on their own land when Mexico ceded their land to the United States.
The Native Indians struggle is also explored in the new series played by actors of that lineage.
“We have covered all the rainbow. We have native Indians. We have Mexicans. I think the show makes a great portrait of the ethnicity of that area… of Texas in that period and struggle.”
One thing Bardem is happy to see left in the past are the casting choices of old Hollywood.
“The times to see a white guy playing an Indian with a painted face, they belong to the past.”
Bardem says the show is not only reflective of the time, but it also has a great story and characters. “We’re really excited. We think we’ve done something really good” explains the actor.
While Pierce Brosnan plays his nemesis in THE SON, off screen Bardem describes the Irish actor as a “great person” who is generous, giving and warm. As actors, he likens their interaction to a sports analogy. “We play catch. Pierce is an amazing player.”
Working on THE SON is a dream come true for Carlos Bardem. As a child in Spain, he watched westerns religiously and he wanted to be part of that world. The AMC show allowed him to play dress up and play with a Winchester rifle, horse, and a cowboy hat. “I think actors… we are like kids that never grow up,” says THE SON star.
Luckily the horse play came naturally to Bardem who rode horses throughout his childhood.
Carlos Bardem is extremely happy with THE SON and the top notch production that went into making the 10-episode series.
“I did enjoy it a lot. I think all of us in the cast we enjoyed it. Like I said before, we were terribly happy because we really knew we were doing something of extreme quality.”
Bardem feels THE SON has the perfect balance of western and action with real human conflict that will resonate with everyone.
THE SON premieres Saturday, April 8 on AMC at 9/8c.