The actor, director, writer and producer has been hard at work in the industry since the late '70s, when as a 12-year-old he made his TV debut on a telenovela, and his charm hasn't failed him yet. Today he's a media mogul whose 2013 film Instructions Not Included grossed over $100 million. The following year, Variety dubbed him the most influential Latino star.
This week, Derbez stopped in Dallas on a press tour and gave Dallas Observer the inside scoop on How to Be a Latin Lover, which co-stars Rob Lowe, Salma Hayek, Kristen Bell, Raquel Welch and Michael Cera.
Dallas Observer: So, tell us what How to Be a Latin Lover is all about.
Derbez: The story is about a guy, an aging “Latin lover.” He’s already old and sad and with grey hair. At the beginning of the movie, something happens that changed his life. He has a trauma and decides not to work another day in his life. He discovers that he is handsome, charming and good with women. He decides to marry an old rich lady so he doesn’t have to work a day in his life. He lives with this rich, old lady for like 25 years then he’s dumped for a younger guy. Then he needs to face reality and start working for the first time ever. That’s where the story begins.
How does your character change over the course of the movie? What does he learn?
The character has a learning curve. But he learns that loving money is not as important as the love of his family. He changes but not 100 percent, and that’s one of things that I love from the movie. It’s not the classic story where you know what’s going to happen and how it’s going to end. At the end it has a twist. It’s really different and it’s not another classic Hollywood ending.
Was there anything challenging about embodying this character?
I’ve been always really skinny and for this movie I had to gain 22-23 pounds because the director wanted me to have a huge belly.
Do you have a favorite scene?
My character is not aware that he is already fat and old. When he was 25, he was always wearing this tiny yellow Speedo. And now he thinks he has the same body and that he can get a girl with the same Speedo. It was really embarrassing to wear with my big belly. I had a crush on Raquel Welch since I was a kid. So the day I met her for the first time, I was wearing that Speedo. I was really embarrassed. I was like, “No, I don’t want to meet Raquel Welch in this tiny Speedo.”
Did you run into any stereotypes while shooting this film? If so, how did you deal with them?
The “Latin lover” is completely a stereotype. Every time I was wearing a suit in the U.S. everyone was always telling me, “Wow, you look handsome. You look like a Latin lover.” So I said, “There is something funny here.” The best way to break down a stereotype is making fun of it. So I’m excited to go that way and make fun of the classic cliché of a Latino being a “Latin lover.”
Do you have any other upcoming projects?
I’m going to start shooting my next movie in about a month. It’s called Overboard. You remember the classic movie from the ’80s with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. This is the remake. We’re making the new version of Overboard, produced by MGM and my own company. This time it’s with Anna Faris and me. We decided to flip the roles. So I’m playing Goldie Hawn’s character and she’s playing Kurt Russell’s. It’s an amazing project.
How to Be a Latin Lover will be in theaters April 28. Watch the trailer here.