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Dec 6 15 6:52 AM
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Actor’s role as a tormented Mexican ex-prosecutor turned avenger in ‘Sicario’ is already getting him Oscar buzz
n a lot of your films, you seem almost like a portal between two worlds: an ambassador from the English world to the Spanish world and vice versa. You grew up in Puerto Rico and then Pennsylvania. Is the shift between those two worlds a natural state for you?
It became a natural state. In Puerto Rico, there is this Latin culture and the American culture is really coming at it like a kind of petri dish. I can’t help but be a product of it. The first time I ever acted in Spanish was in Traffic, and what I thought really strange was listening was different. My training is in English, and the tricky thing about acting is listening. I think maybe it’s a tricky thing in life in general.
With Alejandro, was it one of these no-brainers? Did you take any convincing to do it?I looked at it and went, “OK, I don’t know, do I need to do another movie that takes place in the war on drugs?” I didn’t feel I needed to, but there was an element about the character that I felt like if Clint Eastwood got a chance to play that character, he’s going to knock it out of the park. Also it’s a character I haven’t played.
You’ve played different iterations of it.
Not the revenge guy. I was aware that we needed to play it as if he might be a good guy or might not, but I understand him. I don’t agree with him but I understand. He represents everyone south of the border whose family had been hurt one way or the other, the innocent people, or people that have fought in this war on the right side. It was easy to understand a man with such dark frustration of years of violence that have attacked his innocence and his family and people he probably knows.
You excel at ambiguity on screen. It’s hard to know what you’re going to next.
Well, yeah. Let’s keep a little mystery.
Juarez’s mayor got really mad about the movie. Did you hear about that?
Yeah. It was really bad there five years ago, and that’s around the time the script was conceived. It’s gotten better, which I didn’t know, and which is great to hear. Movies are inspired by real life, and as an actor this same story could have taken place in let’s say East St. Louis (Illinois), or some places in Brazil or in Caracas. It was never our intention to offend anyone in Juarez, and the movie’s not really about Juarez. It’s really about this guy going down to get this drug lord.
Does it bother you that there’s a backlash from Juarez?
Yeah because they’re really trying to come out of this problem. I’m really rooting for them. And to be part of what they consider maybe an obstacle bothers me. I have a strong sentiment toward Mexico. I’ve played many roles in Mexico, so I’m Mexico by adoption, in a way.
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“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.” And from this opening moment, they don’t ever let go, in this visually stunning, hallucinatory romp around Sin City.
This film is the result of the work of three maverick artists (Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman and Terry Gilliam), channeling their genius into a fearless actor (Johnny Depp) at the top of his game. The resulting film is a sensory feast. A stream-of-consciousness, drug fuelled vision of America, and the dream that died as the 60s faded away.
The afore mentioned Depp, plays Rolling Stone reporter, Raoul Duke (a stand-in for author Hunter S. Thompson), who is sent to Vegas to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. Duke sees this as an opportunity too good to pass up, so he loads up the car with mind-altering substances, grabs his accomplice/attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) and the pair of them ride into a hedonistic orgy of weirdness.
As far as plot goes, that’s about it, as Duke and Gonzo stumble from one trip to the next. If you’re looking for a coherent film, with character arcs and a classical three-act structure, you need to look elsewhere. This is not a mainstream, popular film. In fact, it was a complete bomb when it was released in 1998. This is the very definition of a cult film, endlessly quotable and meant to be watched at home, late at night whilst drinking and smoking.
The big draw of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is witnessing the triumvirate of Depp, Del Toro and Gilliam in action. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro give transformative performances, fully committed to the weirdness of the novel. Del Toro gained 45lbs to portray the wild-man attorney, and an almost unrecognisable, balding, gurning Depp has never been better.
The true star of the show however, is director Terry Gilliam. For once working with minimal studio interference and a script that demanded visual inventiveness and a full embrace of the absurd, his wild imagination is let loose on the screen. Yes, at times it is a complete mess, fractured, ugly and bizarre, but that is exactly what the source material required. When Duke and Gonzo arrive at the Las Vegas hotel, and the world around them warps into a nightmare of giant lizards, it is an almost verbatim representation of what occurs in the book. This is virtuoso psychedelic filmmaking, but you may need to be in the right…ahem…state of mind to enjoy it.
Cast: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin Director: Terry Gilliam Writer: Terry Gilliam & Tony Grisoni Released By: Fabulous Films Certificate: 18 Duration: 119 mins Release Date: Out now
Narratively all over the place
John is a freelance writer and film reviewer for Entertainment Focus.
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Varietyâs âActors on Actorsâ Special on PBS Wins Second Emmy.Variety StaffFollow Us on Twitter@VarietyVarietyâs âActors on Actorsâ on PBS was awarded the Emmy Award for best entertainment programming at the Television Academyâs 68th Los Angeles area Emmy Awards.This is the second win in two years for the interview series, which features pairings of prominent actors discussing their craft. âActors on Actorsâ was produced by PBS SoCal in partnership with Variety Media, LLC.
Hosted by Varietyâs Jenelle Riley, the 2016 edition featured such pairings as Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellan, Will Smith and Benicio del Toro and Amy Schumer and Lily Tomlin.
The winners of this yearâs LA Area Emmy Awards were announced Saturday night at the TV Academyâs newly renovated Wolf Theatre at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood.
NBC4 was the eveningâs big winner with 8 awards, followed by KMEX, KVEA and Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A. with 5 trophies each.
The rest of the winners are:
LIGHT NEWS STORY â SINGLE REPORT
HOMELESS HEADSHOTS / KTLA5
SERIOUS NEWS STORY â SINGLE REPORT
INSIDE ISIS / ABC7
LAKERS OPENING NIGHT TEASE / Time Warner Cable SportsNet
DODGERS HOLIDAY STORY / Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.
EL NINO: CURRENTS OF CHANGE / NBC4
BORDERLANDS (Artbound) / KCET
L.A. LOCAL COLOR
STAN CHAMBERS: LEGENDARY NEWSMAN / KTLA5
50 WATTS / NBC4
OUTSTANDING WRITER â NEWS
NICOLETTE MEDINA, Writer / CBS2
OUTSTANDING WRITER â PROGRAMMING
SHAWN KOPELAKIS, Writer / Fox Sports West
OUTSTANDING EDITOR â NEWS
ARTURO QUEZADA, Editor / KMEX
OUTSTANDING EDITOR â PROGRAMMING
ANTONIO CAMBEROS, Editor / KMEX
OUTSTANDING VIDEOGRAPHER â NEWS
RICHARD HUERTA, Videographer / KVEA
OUTSTANDING VIDEOGRAPHER: SINGLE CAMERA â PROGRAMMING
DAVID STRUMPF, Videographer / Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.
MEDICAL NEWS STORYâ SINGLE REPORT
LOVE. LIFE & ILLNESS / CBS2
MEDICAL NEWS STORY â MULTI-PART REPORT
NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES: ALS, ALZHEIMERS / KTLA5
LIGHT NEWS STORY â MULTI-PART REPORT
JUNIPERO / KMEX
SERIOUS NEWS STORY â MULTI-PART REPORT
CLASSROOMS FOR RENT: LAUSDâS PURSUIT FOR HOLLYWOOD DOLLARS / NBC4
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
WINTER IS HERE! BUT THE DROUGHT IS FAR FROM OVER / WeHoTV â City of West Hollywood
BEFORE THE BIGS â MIKE TROUT / Fox Sports West
SURVIVING AN ACTIVE SHOOTER / LA COUNTY CHANNEL
CHINAâS CHALLENGES: CAN CHINA BE HARMONIOUS? / PBS SoCal
SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING SPECIAL / KMEX
LIVE SPECIAL EVENTS â PROGRAMMING
DESFILE DE LAS ROSAS 2015 / KMEX
LIVE SPECIAL EVENTS â NEWS
ALTO A LA VIOLENCIA DOMESTICA / KVEA
LIVE COVERAGE OF AN UNSCHEDULED NEWS EVENT
SAN BERNARDINO SHOOTING / NBC4
SPORTS SERIES â PROGRAMMING (LIVE BROADCAST)
LEAD-OFF L.A. / Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.
SPORTS SERIES â PROGRAMMING (POST-PRODUCED)
SPORTS SHRINES OF LA / Time Warner Cable SportsNet
MUSIC MATTERS: LA KIDS AND THEIR MUSIC / LA CITYVIEW35
DRAWING POWER OF BURBANK / The Burbank Channel
INFORMATIONAL SERIES (MORE THAN 50% REMOTE)
SOCAL CONNECTED / KCET
INFORMATIONAL SERIES (MORE THAN 50% STUDIO)
ENFOQUE LOS ANGELES / KVEA
JOHN HUDSON, Art Director / Time Warner Cable SportsNet
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR â PROGRAMMING
MICHAEL HASSAN,Director / Fox Sports West
OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR â NEWS
LEYSSER PARADA, Director / KVEA
OUTSTANDING NEWS FEATURE REPORTING
PETER DAUT, Reporter / CBS2/KCAL9
OUTSTANDING HARD NEWS REPORTING
JOEL GROVER, Reporter / NBC4
MATTHEW GLASSER, Producer
OUTSTANDING SPORTS REPORTING
FRED ROGGIN, Reporter / NBC4
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING â NEWS
LAâS NUCLEAR SECRET (NBC4 NEWS) / NBC4
THE STAR APARTMENTS (Artbound) / KCET
DODGERMENTARY: WELCOME TO DODGERTOWN / Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.
LIVE SPORTS COVERAGE
DODGERS OPENING DAY / Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.
REGULARLY SCHEDULED DAILY MORNING NEWSCAST
KTLA5 MORNING NEWS AT 6AM / KTLA
TELEMUNDO NOTICIERO 52 A LAS 6AM / KVEA
REGULARLY SCHEDULED DAILY DAYTIME NEWSCAST
KCAL9 NEWS AT 4PM / KCAL
REGULARLY SCHEDULED DAILY EVENING NEWSCAST
NBC4 NEWS AT 11PM /NBC4
Nov 12 16 4:05 AM
I try to stay under the radar now. I'm a father and that changes everything. (He's a dad to 5-year-old Delilah, the result of a brief encounter with Kimberley Stewart, Rod's daughter.) I think about her in a way that is not so much about her now, I'm thinking about the future of another human being who I'm in love with.
I was making Oliver Stone's movie Savages when she was being born and the next day I was hurting someone. I can't change too much but I might do stuff for kids. To do a musical would be kind of funky. I can't sing but we'll fake it, we'll act it, yeah.
Some of my favourite actors of all time played bad guys, from Bogart to Pacino.
I think they started casting me because of my eyes. My mum and dad deserve a lot of credit for that. Both of my parents were lawyers. When I was 13, after Mum died, we moved from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania. It was a big change. I still feel that Puerto Rico is home but I feel at home in a lot of places.My first love was sports. My dream was to play basketball in the NBA. I fell into acting almost accidentally during my freshman year at university in San Diego. I wanted to make my schedule easy, so I took an acting class. Initially my father didn't want me to become an actor. At the time I felt he was being small-minded but now that I'm a parent I understand him better. It's very difficult to make a career as an actor as there are so many variants that come into play. You have to have really thick skin, you've got to be flexible, you've got to be stubborn. It's weird. If you go to college and you study law you can become a lawyer. If you go to college and you study medicine you can become a doctor. But if you go to college and study acting, that doesn't mean you can make a living. So I've been lucky.Being Latin in Hollywood puts you at a disadvantage. I fought the stereotype and I've also been able to use the stereotype to my advantage. I've forced my will into my characters or worked with those people who have created interesting Latin characters.I don't pick characters based on whether I'm going to be a sex symbol or not. You can't play sexy. You pick roles that are interesting psychologically and emotionally involving. I don't look at it like, "Oh, that's cool, I get the girl" - though I don't mind that at all.If you think too much about taking chances it'll freeze you. A Perfect Day is set in the Balkans in 1995 as the Bosnian conflict was winding down. I play an aid worker alongside Tim Robbins. I really wanted to work with Tim and he's surprisingly funny. I always like stories that deal with the futility of effort. I liked the challenge of balancing the humour and the darkness that encompasses that world. I think the humour is a self-defence mechanism, some armour to be able to cope.
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