Will Ferrell, Diego Luna and Genesis Rodriguez were in town promoting their new film Casa de mi Padre, set for release on March 16.
Casa de mi Padre, directed by famed Saturday Night Live writer Matt Piedmont, is a breakthrough in the cinematic world. It is an American production, shot and filmed in the States, with a mix of American and Latino actors featuring a Spanish language script.
Ferrell stars as Armando Alvarez, a good-hearted and gentle soul who lives and works at his father’s (Pedro Armendáriz Jr) ranch. When the ranch is plagued by financial difficulties, Armando’s successful brother Raúl (Luna) returns with his new girlfriend Sonia (Rodriguez), promising to annul any debt the ranch has amassed. Armando, however, falls for Sonia and after it is revealed that Raúl’s business dealings are illicit, and all hell breaks loose as they find themselves in a full on war with Mexico’s most feared capo, the powerful Onza (Gael García Bernal).
The film also marks the first of its class as it satires the telenovela genre, complete with fake scenery, exceedingly dramatic dialogue and an animatronic tiger to boot.
“The most important thing that I want to stress about this movie is that this is the first time anyone has ever done this—anyone. It’s history. And it’s history for Latinos. It’s history, you know, for Americans that such an icon would take on such a huge risk. I think this is the biggest risk he’s taken in his career,” Rodriguez said.
“There are controversial little points that bring awareness to, like for instance the cartels and what people are thinking about Latinos, what people are thinking about Americans and they are poking fun at it, but at the same time, you know, if its done in a comedy its easier,” Rodriguez said.
The film, which has already caused controversy is, of course, not to be taken as a reflection of Latinos or their entertainment content. Fearing that Latino audiences might interpret the film negatively or take offense to it, Rodriguez adamantly said: “It’s not meant to be taken seriously; it’s meant to be taken as a joke.”
The film posed a problem for Ferrell. It was written entirely in Spanish.
“Obviously, not being a native speaker, it was extremely difficult,” he said. “But the whole concept was my idea so I was happy to do it.”
The actor worked rigorously with a translator throughout the production, making sure he got the pitch, rhythm and accents of the language precise.
“Those were intense days simply because…this translator would show up at my house at six in the morning and we would drive to [the] set and go over the scenes, work all day, drive home together and work on the next day’s lines, because I wanted it to be as authentic as it could be,” Ferrell said.
Although the film contains underlying social and political issues, the amalgamation of American and Mexican viewpoints is one that proves reflective of current relations between the two countries.
“There is an intense critique on how Mexicans see Americans and how Americans see Mexicans and how we see what’s going on,” Luna said.
Nevertheless, the film should resonate with audiences of both cultures.
“It would be fun if this movie, shot in America, all completely done in Spanish, was a big hit in Mexico,” added Ferrell. “That would be really cool, I mean just from a cultural standpoint.”