Among the Oscar nominations just announced is one for Demián Bichir, the veteran Mexican actor who portrayed an undocumented father in director Chris Weitz's "A Better Life." The film revolves around his character, Carlos, an undocumented gardener in Los Angeles who hopes to build a landscaping business and earn a better living for himself and his son.
As the film unfolds, Carlos's hopes are dashed when the used pickup truck he's purchased for work is stolen. It's then that the more subtle differences between life in the shadows and life above ground begin to reveal themselves: Where a citizen or legal resident might call police, Carlos feels that he can't afford the risk. So he takes the search for his truck into his own hands.
Bichir is one of a handful of Latino nominees this year, among them Argentine-born Bérénice Bejo from "The Artist. Until now, Bichir was perhaps best known to U.S. audiences as the Tijuana mayor in the television series Weeds, and as Fidel Castro in the two-part 2008 Che production.
The scene from "A Better Life" above is a good example of Bichir's work in the film; in the video below uploaded by the Spanish-language entertainment site DesdeHollywood, Bichir talks about his character, the gardener Carlos Galindo. (The interview is in English.)
Bichir was also recently featured in a short video by the "Define American" immigrant advocacy project of ex-Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer winner who publicly admitted to being an undocumented immigrant last year.