Most people toil away in independent cinema for years, maybe even decades, before catching a big break through some sort of cosmic alignment and starring in an Oscar-winning movie.
Not Tony Revolori. The 19-year-old Californian with Guatemalan roots, who stars in the buzzy, nerds-in-the-hood dramedy Dope (out June 19), is doing it all backwards.
After a string of small television parts, he was cast as Zero Moustafa, the orphaned lobby boy and fiercely loyal protégé of eccentric concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) in Wes Anderson’s dazzling 2014 murder mystery, The Grand Budapest Hotel. As the story goes, Anderson searched far and wide for the right actor to play Zero, who in the film is supposed to be a political refugee from a fictional Middle Eastern nation. The A-list director looked at actors of Israeli and Lebanese descent, but eventually landed in Los Angeles, where he auditioned Tony and – get this – Tony’s own brother, Mario. But in case you’re wondering – all is good between the two hermanos. In fact, Mario visited his younger brother on the set of Dope, along with Tony’s mom. (The acting gene actually runs in Tony’s family. His father was an actor, too.)
Let’s get one thing straight: Oscar Isaac is not a Latino actor. He is one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood who happens to be Latino — and this year will forever be known as the one in which he went from indie favorite to that guy you have no excuse to not know.
Isaac kicks off 2015 in style with “A Most Violent Year,” a drama from writer-director J.C. Chandor set in New York City during the nightmarish winter of 1981. Statistically, the title is no joke: there were 1,826 murders and 120,000 robberies that year (a record at the time).
His character, Abel Morales, is an immigrant who escapes his violent past in Colombia and achieves the ever-elusive American Dream through sheer hard work. But with his thriving heating-oil business under attack from competitors who behave like thugs, Abel is torn between staying true to his principles and resorting to violence in order to protect what’s his and eventually build an empire, all while the DA (David Oyelowo) is on his tail.
With diversity in Hollywood being such a hot topic — as it should be — and the Oscars around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on one of the most trailblazing Latinos in entertainment: Anthony Quinn.
Born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1915 and raised in poverty in Los Angeles, Quinn was the embodiment of the American Dream. Though he eventually worked in almost 150 films and won two Oscars, the stage is where it all began, so it’s fitting that the landmark, 70-foot “Pope of Broadway” mural in downtown Los Angeles erected in 1985 in Quinn’s honor is undergoing a $150,000 restoration effort starting this month, with expected completion in 2016.
According to Variety, “The Boy Next Door” did not disappoint at the box office. It came in second after “American Sniper,” earning a solid $15 million from 2,602 locations. Its opening weekend audience was weighted toward females, who made up 71% of ticket buyers, and Hispanics, who comprised 45%.
“Basically, Jennifer Lopez is great, and people responded to her,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “She was the number one reason people wanted to see this movie.”
If you’re tempted to feel bad for Jennifer Aniston — don’t. The “Cake” star is certainly not sweating the fact that she missed out on an Oscar nomination this past week. The outpouring of support definitely helped.
“I was amazed at how many messages of ‘Shocked!’ ‘F**k ’em!’ and ‘Robbed!’ I got,” she told HuffPost on Friday while promoting “Cake,” out January 23. “I found it quite endearing and flattering that I had so many people rooting for me. It was almost just as good to be number one snubbed than to be nominated,” she added with a laugh.
Aniston wasn’t the only one snubbed this year. The Angelina Jolie-directed “Unbroken” also got left out of major categories. Still, the two were all smiles at Thursday’s Critics Choice Awards — their first time sharing a carpet since 2009, apparently.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Aniston and Brad Pitt separated, and he went on to start Hollywood’s unofficial First Family with Jolie. Remarkably, the narrative of Aniston as the victim hasn’t yet faded.
Idris and I at the “No Good Deed” press junket earlier this year
It’s not unusual for Rush Limbaugh to say racist things. It is unusual for the right-wing commentator to admit that he’s being racist.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh brought up the idea of Idris Elba as James Bond on his syndicated radio show (a topic in one of the thousands of leaked Sony emails) and declared the 42-year-old London-born actor unfit for the role based on his skin color.
“James Bond is a total concept put together by Ian Fleming. He was white and Scottish. Period. That is who James Bond is,” Limbaugh said. “But now [they are] suggesting that the next James Bond should be Idris Elba, a black Briton, rather than a white from Scotland. But that’s not who James Bond is…I know it’s racist to probably point this out.”
As I revisit the year, I think of all the great work we accomplished as a team at Variety Latino. Surpassing 1 million monthly uniques in four months was something I couldn’t have even imagined doing when we launched! One of my personal highlights was this on-camera interview with William Levy, who stopped by our studios to promote his film, “Addicted,” back in early October.
I had interviewed Levy before for the cover of Latina Magazine, so it was fun to catch up with him around the release of the movie, which ended up being a hit at the box office.
To date, this interview has been viewed more than 15,000 times on YouTube! Levy’s fans are dedicated.
*This original story which I wrote in reaction to Elizabeth Peña’s death for Variety Latino has been generously shared online, so I’m posting it here too.
Elizabeth Peña was a rare breed. The kind of actress that didn’t seek or crave the limelight, but rather focused on “the craft.” You’d have to, in order to enjoy the type of career she had.
Prolific is an understatement. Peña amassed around 100 acting credits, starting with her first role in León Ichaso’s “El Super” in 1979. Fittingly, it was the story of Cuban exiles adjusting to their life in Spanish Harlem. When she died, on October 14, 2014, she had wrapped the first season of “Matador” on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, and had a couple of projects in development.
You interview enough actors in this business and eventually those two words (“the work,” “the craft,” or any variation thereof), start to sound clichéd, and quite honestly, rehearsed. But in Peña’s case, she never, in her almost 40 years of working in showbiz, got to the point of being overexposed, so all you had to go by was “the work.” Continue reading →
*I’m extremely proud of how Variety Latino’s first curated list came out. I really wanted to do something different than the usual lists and so we commissioned celebrity branding authority Jeetendr Sehdev to conduct this national survey for us. The celebrities really responded to it and shared it on their own Twitter, Facebook pages, which made me so happy. It was a big hit! And hopefully the first of many lists to come…
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Variety and Variety Latino have joined forces to launch the “POWER OF LATINOS: 20 MOST INFLUENTIAL STARS LIST,“ spotlighting the most successful Latino film and TV actors in Hollywood (10 men and 10 women). The special appears in the September 30th issue of print Variety.
But rather than focus solely on their professional accomplishments, we went one step further, and looked at how influential and appealing they are within their own community.
When I was a little girl, I used to play a darker version of hide and seek with my older cousins in Ecuador. In our little game, whomever was the seeker would role play as La Llorona, and do the trademark wail of the mythical Weeping Woman: “Donde estan mis hijos?” (“Where are my children?”).
It was all innocent fun, but now that I think about it, it’s a creepy concept, and not something I’ll be passing onto my own children one day.
My experience growing up with this mythical figure as part of my consciousness was not uncommon. In homes all across Mexico, the southwestern U.S., certain parts of the Caribbean, and most countries in Latin America, La Llorona is collectively known and feared.