In Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Our Brand is Crisis,” front and center of the election chaos stands presidential candidate and veteran politico Castillo, who sees his consultants (led by Sandra Bullock’s Jane Bodine) as a necessary evil, and whose mix of charm, pride and privilege is deftly captured by Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida (“Fast Five”).
The actor nearly didn’t make the “Our Brand is Crisis” shoot because of an ill-timed gym injury shortly before production, but instead opted to use the situation to his advantage. “Castillo is not an easy guy, not a smiling, happy guy. He has issues. He’s impatient. So I used my own discomfort for the character,” he says.
“He’s a man with money and power,” de Almeida continues. “Castillo is not used to being told what to do, especially by a woman, but these are experts who are well-paid and have run successful campaigns in other countries so he’s willing to hear them out. Then there’s a turning point when he sees the results of Jane’s work, and even if she has a tough way of explaining things and confronts him with the truth, and even if he has a hard time accepting that, he can’t argue with the results.”
Jane sees immediately who Castillo is. Perhaps it’s because these two personalities, often vocally at odds, are oddly simpatico in their single-minded pursuit of the prize.
“Joaquim plays Castillo brilliantly like a person who has once been president but is no longer the president, and is trying to get his groove back,” notes director David Gordon Green. “In that respect, he is similar to Jane in not wanting to step down from the throne and wanting to get back into control. But is he looking out for the best interests of the country, or just addressing his own ego?”
“We auditioned many actors and when Joaquim read we all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s the guy,’” recalls producer Grant Heslov. “He really captures that toughness and machismo and Castillo’s sense of entitlement, while alluding to aspects of this man we may never know.”
Bullock agrees. “There’s great sub-text in his work. He makes Castillo someone both endearing and repulsive. He gives the role an element of power and depth, and it’s clear that he hasn’t been an angel.”
Coincidentally, this film marks the second time that de Almeida has portrayed a Bolivian president. The first was in “Che,” when he appeared as real-life President Barrientos.
In “Our Brand is Crisis,” a Bolivian presidential candidate failing badly in the polls enlists the firepower of an elite American management team, led by the deeply damaged but still brilliant strategist “Calamity” Jane Bodine. In self-imposed retirement following a scandal that rocked her to her core, Jane is coaxed back into the game for the chance to beat her professional nemesis, the loathsome Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton), now coaching the opposition.
But as Candy zeroes in on every vulnerability – both on and off the campaign trail – Jane is plunged into a personal crisis as intense as the one her team exploits nationally to boost their numbers. “Our Brand is Crisis” reveals the cynical machinations and private battles of world-class political consultants for whom nothing is sacred and winning is all that matters.
Opening across the Philippines on Jan. 13, 2016, “Our Brand is Crisis” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.