Production on the third season of Amazon's "Mozart in the Jungle" starts this summer and lead actor Gael Garcia Bernal steps back into his role as superstar conductor Rodrigo de Souza being able to boast two things: that he is a Golden Globe winner and that he has conducted the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
The second season of the half-hour dramedy saw Bernal's character dealing with a looming musician's strike, a proposal to return to Mexico City and a brash decision to leave his job as conductor of the New York Symphony.
But, first, there was some art imitating life that needed filming.
Wunderkind Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who serves as the music director to the L.A. Philharmonic and the inspiration for Bernal's Rodrigo character, not only made a cameo appearance in the first episode of the season, but he also arranged for Bernal to shoot a scene with the actual L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Bernal, as Rodrigo, conducted the overture to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro."
"It was nerve-wracking," Bernal said during a visit to the L.A. Times studio to reflect on the season. "I held onto everything I could. I can't even remember what I did, but I remember for like a full 30 minutes I was thinking, 'What am I doing? What is this? What is this? Why? Why? Why? Why? No.'"
Bernal, who praised Dudamel for all the support he's given to the show, likened the experience to an actor who is tapped for a role as Michael Jordan and then is invited to play in a real, professional basketball game.
The actor said Dudamel's advice was simple: "He said, 'Just go there and do it,'" Bernal recalled. "It was like the best advice… at the end of the day, we all know you're pretending."
Despite the nerves, Bernal enjoyed the experience.
"I loved being up there," Bernal said. "The best thing I heard when coming down — there [were] many fans that wait outside and one of them was Mexican and was like, 'Hey Gael, you were great. You were just like [Mexican comic actor] Cantinflas."
Watch the full interview and Bernal discussing his experience in Spanish below.
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