You know who gives good soundbites? Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican filmmaker who won three Academy Awards Sunday night for “Birdman.” The art-house movie about a troubled Broadway opening won four prizes altogether, including the best director trophy for Inarritu.
Onstage, he joked about wearing Michael Keaton tighty-whities for good luck (“It worked, I’m here”), but was mostly serious, talking about competition and true art (“our work only will be judged, as always, by time”) and the plight of his Mexican countrymen on both sides of the border.
Backstage, though, he was looser and giddier. A reporter asked if he really was wearing those tighty-whities.
“We should be in a more intimate context to show you,” he joked. “. . . which I don’t think would happen.”
What did these wins this mean for his career?
“I don’t have a career. I have a life. I have a today. I don’t know what will happen, but today is great.”
But did the Oscar validate what he’s been doing?
“It’s a good question, because I haven’t figured out why I did what I did. I think fear is the condom of life. It doesn’t allow you to enjoy things. This was real. It was making love, for sure.”
How did he get the studio to finance “Birdman”?
“My Mexican style is I just show them my gun. [laughs] It was a very, in a way, a long road to be selling this with your heart and say ‘Guys, this is what we want to do.’ It was a difficult take. I don’t blame the people who didn’t finance this film. When you hear this idea of this film, everything sounds so risky. Nobody could see the light out of it. Fox Searchlight they are, in a way, smart guys and we know each other and trust me. . . . It could have been a disaster.”
Was he bothered that Sean Penn, when announcing the best picture prize, joked about about Inarritu’s green card?
“I found it hilarious. Sean and I have that kind of brutal relationship. . . When I was directing him in ‘21 Grams,’ he was always making jokes about that. . . . I didn’t find him offensive. I thought it was very funny.”
Only one regret — that he forgot to thank his mother from the stage. Inarritu asked the reporters backstage to make it up for him by working her into their stories: “I won this for my mom. My mom is part of this and I will treasure if you say that. [When she is] very old and I would like her to know this.”