‘The Bridge’s’ Demian Bichir: Hollywood’s Depiction of Mexico Only Shows the Bad Side

by | July 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Interview, The Bridge, TV News

From Left: Ted Levine, Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger in "The Bridge" (Photo: FX)

It’s looking as if “The Bridge” will become the most-watched series premiere in FX history once all the numbers are in. Last Wednesday’s series premiere delivered 3 million viewers, with another 1.1 million for its encore airing, to bring the total to 4.1 million. But when the Live+3 numbers were in, “The Bridge” became the network’s most time-shifted show ever.

“I think what shocks me the most is that I haven’t seen so many people agreeing on the same work,” says series star Demian Bichir, who plays Juarez police detective Marco Ruiz. We have a pretty high rate on how much people like the show — specialists, critics, common people on the streets, peers, friends, all kinds of people. Everything that I’ve heard in the last week is, ‘I’m hooked; I can’t wait to go back on Wednesday.’”

Based on a Scandinavian series, “The Bridge,” which also stars Diane Kruger, Ted Levine, Annabeth Gish, and Thomas M. Wright, began with a body dump on the bridge connecting the U.S. and Mexico borders at El Paso and Juarez. Initially, it seemed as if the case would fall exclusively under the U.S. jurisdiction, but when the body was taken to the medical examiner, a shocking discovery was made revealing that it had been severed in half — and the top and bottom halves come from two different victims — one from each country.

On tonight’s second episode, Marco and his U.S. partner Detective Sonya Cross (Kruger) continue the investigation to discover the identity of the heinous killer who severed the two women in half.

But first, xfinityTV spoke with Bichir during a teleconference with journalists to get his thoughts on the relationship between Sonya and Marco, what’s happening on his home front, how he hopes this series might positively affect immigration laws, and more.

Can you talk about the evolution of Marco’s working relationship with Sonya?

I think this is the first time that Sonya actually can have a friend, a real friend, because Marco, he doesn’t care about anything else but solving the problems that they share. And although she might be “weird” to Marco, he likes her. He likes her and he takes care of her just the way partners should do, so you will see that more and more, how this relationship goes from being awkward to being very tight without getting weird or anything.

I think having this story on American television… I think it’s fantastic, a huge step in terms of approaching an issue that’s right there. It will be there forever, because of our vicinity, because we will be together forever and ever. The problems and issues that we share as two different countries haven’t been put on screen like now with a border so difficult like El Paso and Juarez — two different cities and so much alike. Marco and Sonya represent those two countries. Marco and Sonya, they are as different as Mexico and the United States, but they understand that they need to work together, get to know each other as soon as possible, so they can cover each other’s back and work in the same direction.

Sonya has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, even though it isn’t specifically mentioned on the show. Do you think it is “The Bridge’s” job to educate?

Sometimes that’s what a good film, a good book or a good series can do, they can probably make you a better person. Maybe we can bring people’s attention to what Asperger’s is. Maybe if we’re lucky, we will make you curious about it, curious about many issues, and pretty much about the way politicians lie.

Catch-up on the Pilot Episode of “The Bridge” Here on xfinityTV

Marco has just had a vasectomy and it is looking as if he things were pretty good at home with his wife, but then something happens in Episode 3 that calls that into question?

One of the things that I love about Marco is that this is a tri-dimensional character because he’s not black or white. He’s a good cop. He’s a good man — but he’s no angel — and that’s what I believe. I believe in characters that can be tangible, that you can actually relate to, and loving his wife as much as I love my wife. He’s a man and he’s not very good sometimes in making decisions, and he gets himself in trouble at home, where trouble is already there because of the way he communicates with his son Gus. They don’t talk much, and that’s a problem with a teenager, whenever you have a teenager.

Obviously, this is not a documentary, but for many American viewers, this might be the most that they learn about what the U.S./Mexican border is like because it’s not very well covered in the news. What do you see as the news or the educational value of “The Bridge”?

We still have to go deeper in that department. We’re not showing the real Juarez. We’re only showing the Hollywood Juarez that I guess they need to contrast, but the irony of it is that Juarez is a modern city, where you can find pretty much anything you need, especially if you’ve got money. It’s a fantastic city that I’ve known for many years. I have family in Juarez, friends.

Every time I’m doing a play, Juarez is a stop that we have to make. Juarez is a lot more than just a difficult border, and we still need to show that part. Everything we’re showing right now, it’s only the bad side, the bad guys, as we’re also showing the bad side of the bad guys in the United States. So, I just hope that the rest of the world won’t take this as a fact.

Are you saying that upcoming episodes will be showing that more realistic side of Juarez?

Probably not. This show is about contrasts. Even though Diane, Ted Levine and everyone else, we can always give our opinions and they listen to everything we have to say, but we don’t have any more power than that as what should be seen or not. So in this particular story, we won’t be seeing the fantastic hospitals Juarez has, and the magnificent infrastructure that Juarez has.

Do you think it’s significant that “The Bridge” is airing just as the United States tries to tackle its biggest immigration reform in more than two decades?

I think it’s perfect timing for that because, if we can bring in people’s attention to what the real problem of immigration is, then that will be an asset to our show. Even though this show is not about immigration, we talk about it, and immigration is not about building walls. It’s a universal phenomenon that will continue to happen in the next 20, 50 years more and more. The fact that our show is called “The Bridge,” that is exactly what we need; we need to build bridges and not walls. The immigration issue is about the separation of the families and that is not human in any country in the world, but especially in the United States. We should not root for a law that separates families.

“The Bridge” airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on FX.