CLOSE
LINKEDINCOMENTARIOSMÁS INFORMACIÓN

The character of little adventurer Dora the Explorer comes to the big screen in "Dora and the Lost City of Gold." That's big news, but for some fans, the star attraction is Eugenio Derbez, the rubbery Mexican comic actor who is a genuine superstar in his homeland.

If he hasn't enjoyed a monster hit with Anglo audiences in the States yet, it's not for lack of trying. The sweet-natured 2013 comedy "Instructions Not Included" became the highest-grossing Spanish film ever released in the States. He also had star turns in "How to Be a Latin Lover" and last year's "Overboard" remake, but he's still searching for the ideal vehicle to connect with both Anglo and Hispanic audiences. 

The star visited Phoenix recently to plug "Dora," for which he spent more than four months in Australia. Derbez, tired but tirelessly cheerful and engaged, talked about the new movie and his hopes and dreams for his career. 

Question: Was this fun or hard to shoot? 

Answer: It was both, but probably more hard than fun. It was just that it was the most demanding movie I’ve ever done physically. Every single day we were running, jumping, doing crazy stuff like diving underwater or the quicksand or running from the arrows. It was crazy, but it was the first time I've done an action movie, so I was really happy, too. 

Want more stories about the best things to do, eat and see in the Valley? Subscribe to azcentral.com for guides, reviews and expert advice.

Q: In Australia, how often were you recognized? 

A: Not that much. That part was like a vacation. Every time I met a Latino, of course, they knew me. But I was very happy because like three or four times I met Australians that watched "Overboard," especially "Overboard." They would say, "You're that guy!" 

Q: You're a producer on "Dora." What does that mean? 

A: Well, you know for many years I was trying to do the crossover. I was always waiting for someone to call me and it didn’t happen that often and when they did call, they were always offering the same kind of roles: the gardener or the drug lord or the narco. So, I would love to change the way Hollywood portrays Latinos, and I found the only way to do that is by producing my own stuff. So I opened a production company in Los Angeles, and I’ve been developing my own material.

When my agents knew about this project, they said, "Are you interested?" "Of course!" It's one of the few times we see a Latina on screen with a positive image, so of course I want to be part of "Dora." I bring a lot to the table. I was born and raised in Mexico City. I know Latino culture and I was in charge of everything relating to Latinos. I was in charge of the Spanish dubbing and did the adaptation for that. 

Repetición automática
Mostrar Miniaturas
Mostrar Subtítulos

Q: Were you involved with casting?

A: Part of it. Not with Isabela (Moner, who plays Dora), but with Isela Vega and Adriana Barraza. Adriana was Oscar-nominated for "Babel," and she plays the abuelita. And Isela is like the sorcerer in the middle of the forest in "Dora," but she's one of the (treasures) in Mexican cinema. They were casting people that were not even Mexican and nobody knew who they were. I said, "Hire these people. They're amazing, they have an audience and they're going to be authentic." 

Q: Do American filmmakers understand Hispanics? 

A: (Shaking his head) You would not believe how crazy it is. It's like if you went to see a movie about a gringo American and he was talking like an Irishman. The same thing happens with us. There are so many different accents in Spanish; we speak the same language, but the words are different and sometimes they mean different things in every country. Everyone in Colombia was complaining about "Narcos" because the star (Warner Moura) who is supposed to be Colombian is played by a Brazilian. I don't remember which movie it was, but there was a scene where they arrive at a Mexican restaurant and there are people flamenco dancing. That's Spanish, not Mexican! That's why I was in charge, to not let things like this happen. 

Q: Is the character of Dora well-known in Mexico?

A: She is, but Dora is the opposite in Mexico: She speaks in Spanish, and she teaches English. I learned that is true in every country: In France, she speaks French and teaches English. 

Repetición automática
Mostrar Miniaturas
Mostrar Subtítulos

Q: You've talked about wanting to get back to directing. Will you?

A: Yes, 100%. I've been struggling here in Hollywood a little. The studios want me to do commercial films, but I would like to do the kind of movies I would like to do and direct movies like ''Instructions Not Included," which is more heart than anything else. There's comedy in it, but it has a deep, deep message, and that's the kind of movie I'd like to do. I'm dividing my career between what I would do as an actor and what stories I want to tell as a director. That's why I don't direct that often. I have to be very picky and more specific about my voice. 

Q: What about writing?

A: I'm still writing, but the problem is that I don't have enough time. I'm always doing a lot of stuff. I would love to have a hiatus of at least two to three months so I could finish my writing. 

Q: What kind of projects do you want to do?

A: Do you remember "Amélie"? It was very special. Or a comedy like "Being There" with Peter Sellers? It's very powerful. I'm looking for something like those, something that is unique but has comedy and a lot of heart and a strong message.

Q: Will Hollywood be open to that?

A: When a movie is good, the rest doesn't matter. It's completely different, but "Roma" was an amazing example of that. It's in black and white, it's a project that's 100% Mexican. I can't imagine anyone else pitching that but Alfonso Cuarón, and I can see any producer, any company would have said, "This is not entertaining! This is not fun! This is about Latinos! Get out of here!" (Laughing) But this guy (displayed) an amazing artistry with that movie. When it's a good movie, it doesn't matter if it's English or Spanish or what it's about. 

Q: Do you want to be more famous in the United States among Anglos?

A: It's a very interesting question. Every day, I think, "One day I'm going to cross over 100%. One day I'm going to be as famous here as I am in Mexico." But, be careful what you wish for. (Laughing) I can walk freely here; I can't do that in Mexico. So, I'm not sure. Right now, I'm wanting a little bit more fame ... not that much more, but a little bit more. 

Reach the reporter at randy.cordova@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordovaSubscribe to azcentral.com today.

LINKEDINCOMENTARIOSMÁS INFORMACIÓN
Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/people/2019/08/08/why-eugenio-derbez-will-not-play-gardener-drug-lord-dora-and-the-lost-city-of-gold-actor/1948447001/