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Gael Garcia Bernal Stretches Acting's Boundaries

The actor Gael Garcia Bernal has a small frame and a commanding presence on screen.

The 27-year-old Mexican actor, whose work is often cited for its intensity and vulnerability, currently has two movies in theaters. In Babel, he is drunk and armed when he comes up against a hostile border agent at a U.S.-Mexico crossing.

In The Science of Sleep, Bernal takes a comic turn as Stephane, a man who's held captive by his dreams and is obsessed with his neighbor in Paris.

Bernal has drawn acclaim for his earlier roles, among them, as a randy teenager on a road trip in Y Tu Mama Tambien and as a young Ernesto Guevara -- before he became Che -- in The Motorcycle Diaries.

For Bernal, acting is an inner journey.

"It's a safe way, and an exciting way, to test yourself and to be able to travel these distances, and be blunt and brave and throw yourself into it. And maybe it won't look good, but at least that golden dust that comes out of an act of faith is always there, it always transcends, it is always worthwhile," he says.

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As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.