|Benjamin Bratt stars in the film adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera, an experience he will not soon forget.
NEW YORK -- There are worse ways to spend a day than listening to Benjamin Bratt talk about love.
Bratt, 44, stars in Love in the Time of Cholera, an epic of passion and unrequited love that co-stars Javier Bardem and Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno. The film is based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
"The text is damn near sacred," says Bratt. "The novel is one of the greatest pieces of literature, ever. It helps if you understand what love is, and you see from the first page that the entire book is a meditation on love."
He understands what love is?
"I think it's different things for different people," says Bratt. "For me, it's the most ecstatic and agonizing state of grace you could ever hope to experience. It's the one thing we all aspire to have in our lives."
Bratt continues, "We mistake love for happiness, which is the other thing we aspire to have in our lives. But they're totally different things -- as the novel points out, you can obtain a type of love but still be completely f---ing miserable. Love can be found in the most mundane things, like arguing about who'll make the coffee today. Or make the bed. It's a combination of things. After the initial thunderbolt of romantic love, you have to work at it.
"Love takes work."
Bratt is currently combining love and work by staying busy parenting, he says. With his wife, Talisa Soto, he has a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. He's known for both TV series and movies, but since Love in the Time of Cholera was finished last year, says Bratt, "I just coasted for a while on the high of the experience. I'm just waiting for the next experience, professionally, that could get at least half way close to this."
He loved the script, the cast and crew, and working in Cartagena, Columbia.
"As an actor, moving from movies to series to movies, you're a bit like a gypsy. That aspect of the lifestyle has always turned me on. I have been part of ensembles where everyone goes their separate ways at the end of the day, but I'm a really social person. The good news in this situation was that when the day wrapped, one group or another was getting together for dancing, dinner or just hanging out.
Bratt, who made his name in the television series Law & Order, says that he has a family history in the acting business.
"My grandfather George Bratt, was a member of the Grand Street Follies here in New York. He was an actor on Broadway. If you look at some of the old playbooks, he was in productions with James Cagney."
Acting got into Bratt's blood when he was a teenager.
"Although at that point, I thought I might be a dentist," he says, and he laughs. "I shared this with a counsellor at school and he said, 'No! A lifetime of staring into other people's mouths is not for you!' "
Acting, he says, defies rational thought. "There's something about inhabiting the skin of someone else that frees you up, allows you to explore emotional and physical boundaries -- break those boundaries. You don't become an actor," he says.
"You just never find anything else that makes you feel as alive, and that was certainly the case for me."