Alejandro González Iñárritu — the guest on this week’s episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, which was recorded in front of an audience of students at Chapman University — is a Mexican writer, director, producer, film editor and composer who was described by Roger Ebert as “unreasonably talented.” He has directed seven feature films over a period of 22 years: 2000’s Amores Perros, 2003’s 21 Grams, 2006’s Babel, 2010’s Biutiful, 2014’s Birdman, 2015’s The Revenant and 2022’s Bardo, the last four of which he also co-wrote.
He has personally won four Oscars — best picture, best director and best original screenplay for Birdman and, just a year later, best director for The Revenant, making him one of only three filmmakers who have ever won that high honor in back-to-back years, after John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. And he was also awarded an honorary Oscar for his 2017 virtual reality project Carne y Arena. Few filmmakers have ever accumulated that much hardware from the Academy — and he’s still only 59.
Widely known as one of “The Three Amigos,” a trio of Mexico-born filmmakers who have risen to the top of the international film industry in the 21st century — the others being Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro — three of his films have been chosen to represent Mexico in the best international feature Oscar race, each in a different decade: Amores Perros, which was nominated, Biutiful, which was nominated, and this season, Bardo, which might well be nominated.
He has directed 10 performances to Oscar nominations, as well — those given by Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi in Babel, Javier Bardem in Biutiful, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone in Birdman and, for The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio, who won best actor, and Tom Hardy.
Over the course of our conversation, Iñárritu reflected on how music led him to and has widely informed his movies; why, in his movies, he has so frequently focused on parents and children, as well as immigrants and immigration; what leads him to keep challenging himself, from making Birdman look like a single-shot film to shooting The Revenant in brutal conditions using only natural light to sharing his most personal tragedies and fears and demons in Bardo; plus much more.