‘Coco’ star Gael García Bernal dishes on life after death

Actor Gael García Bernal plays a con man in “Coco,” the latest Pixar film.

When pressed for how the 38-year-old actor relates to Héctor, he repeats the question, pondering. Then says sarcastically, “Well, I mean, I am a person that will one day die. Maybe that’s a relation with Héctor.”

Héctor is a conniving skeleton living in the Land of the Dead, who is desperate to be remembered on Dia de los Muertos. The Mexican holiday, which runs from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, is centered around memorializing friends and family who have died, often putting pictures of the departed on altars called ofrendas — and 12-year-old Miguel has a lot to learn about the importance of family.

In “Coco,” the skeletons in the Land of the Dead can only survive if they’re remembered in the Land of the Living. If Héctor can get Miguel, a living boy who gets trapped in the Land of the Dead, to bring a photo of him back to the Land of the Living, he will be able to cross over during the holiday and see his family.

Bernal, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, says that with a movie like “Coco,” talking about the loss of loved ones is something that viewers can see themselves doing.

“And I think this movie, we all project because it’s something that we all go through,” he says. “And who knows, this is a mythology of what might happen when we die. What happens with memories and all those amazing, and interesting and necessary conversations and thoughts that go on when you’re growing up and also when you’re older. We project it. So there’s many things that I can see of Héctor in myself.”

The one thing he doesn’t share with Héctor is being a singer, even though he sings in the film.

“Thank God it wasn’t on-screen,” he says, “because if not I would have been . . . I’m not a singer and I get nervous. I get nervous . . . This movie I’m working with making it really easy for you to really find the character, to find what you’re doing, to enjoy it.”

Bernal says he was drawn to doing “Coco” because it was being made by Pixar, especially since it was being directed by Lee Unkrich, who had codirected films like “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story 2” and “Monsters, Inc.”

“They’ve done many great films, so I was really convinced about this,” Bernal says. “And then just to hear what it was . . . and it was quite interesting. And then you see the results. You see, for example, the beautiful flower bridge . . . it’s just one of the most beautiful gorgeous moments.

“It surpassed my expectations of how wonderful this could be,” he says.