From the Oscars to the Golden Globes to the Directors Guild, Alejandro González Iñárritu has been honored many times for the way he sent Leonardo DiCaprio’s frontier trapper through a hellish trial of survival, soul-searching and one wrathful bear. But I think Alejandro is the real revenant. I have seen him down and bleeding, and I have seen him strong and in control, but there is always a core within him that doesn’t surrender to adversity or despair.
Success and failure are both deadly forces, and a career in cinema is a boxing match—a complicated, dynamic exchange of blows with reality, financing and egos. Sometimes you win, but sometimes you’re on the ropes or the countdown, and preserving your vision requires a strange mix of fragility, as an artist, and resilience, as a professional. Alejandro always finds the balance, perhaps because after each of his films, many filled with an almost Old Testament fury, he retreats to a place where he can find silence and renew himself after struggling with his endeavors.
When most of my film friends call my home and I’m not there, they leave a message—all they want to talk about is movies. But Alejandro will spend 30 or 40 minutes talking to my wife Lorenza about family, cooking and children, because he is interested in life in a voracious way. The principles and the deep humanity that animate his filmmaking also animate his day-to-day interactions. For that he has filled my heart with love and admiration, both as a filmmaker and as a friend.
Del Toro is the director of Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth