Edward James Olmos joins Warner Bros Digital Distribution in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a month-long presentation via cable's On Demand of Academy Award Winning and blockbuster hit films made by and starring Hispanic artists including Selena (Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Lopez), El Cantante (Marc Anthony), Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro) and more. Also continue the celebration with Stand And Deliver, featuring Edward James Olmos' Academy Award Nominated Performance for Best Actor, now available for Download on iTunes.
Edward James Olmos recently took part in a conference call where he had plenty to say about Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts September 15, Hispanics in the film industry, the new movie Machete and much more. Take a look at what he had to say below.
I'm glad to see Selena is part of this celebration. How do you think the film reflects Latino's in this country today?
Edward James Olmos: It's such an uplifting film all the way until the very end and you realize it's really a difficult film to watch. You've been lead down this road, seen the life and the beauty of these young kids and this family, what they went through, the joy and the love. It was like what happened when we actually filmed it. There was about 15 months after her death and nobody wanted to do the movie. The parents didn't want to do it, but there were three major motion pictures being developed on it, there were five documentaries, eight books and I don't know how much other stuff was coming out. The movies were the things the parents were really afraid of so they went to Warner Bros. and, thank God, Warner Bros. was strong enough to pull it off. They got everybody together and we all went into production. The only person that hung around with us, throughout the whole production, was the father. After every single scene, and I mean EVERY single scene, I would finish the scene, like in the bus or any one of the major moments, I would turn and I would look at him. He would be in the corner with his back towards us and he would sob. His whole body would be jolting. It never ceased to happen. It tore his heart out to have to do this. The country didn't want to see this and, yet, it became a very popular movie and it's become a very popular movie. It does stand true to everything about it, the good, the bad and the ugly about it. It's really a tremendous journey we took with Selena and I think Jennifer Lopez gave the performance of her life. She should've gotten an Academy Award nomination and she should've gotten the Academy Award. I was very surprised that they looked the other way. It was just terrible, because she really deserved the nomination.
What would you say has been the lasting impact of the film and how do you think the Hispanic community feels about it?
Edward James Olmos: I think it's one of the most viewed films we've made. There's La Bamba, another tragedy. Stand And Deliver holds the highest ranking. Stand And Deliver is the single-most viewed film ever made in the United States of America, bar none. It's been viewed in the United States more than E.T., more than Raiders Of The Lost Ark, more than Jaws, any one of those multi-billion-dollar movies ever made. It beat out Gone With the Wind about 12 years ago, as far as people seeing it, because of the usage of the film. Stand And Deliver is used yearly in schools. You may never see it again, but the teacher will play it. That's been going on now for 23 years and it's become even more legendary. Selena is the same way. It isn't used in schools, but it's used in the dynamic of the culture, with the millions of people we have here, they use it. Film is really a very strong medium in that it attacks the subconscious mind so it's important that we share the space so that indigenous people have access to it. That's really the key to this whole understanding. Selena is seen a lot more today than the day it first came out. People have it at their house and I know one kid who had seen it 89 times! They were going for the record. Young girls love that movie. Little latina's pass it around.
You said that there weren't many people who wanted to see the movie made at that time. Can you talk a bit about the changes you've seen in the industry after Selena came out?
Edward James Olmos: I didn't see any. I didn't see any at all, as a matter of fact. I think they only thing that happened was that Jennifer Lopez got the chance to become an artist who can back a picture. We hadn't had one of those in awhile, a latina who could back a picture on the strength of what she was actually doing. As far as Selena, there wasn't another one made. It's like Stand And Deliver. What happens is the industry looks at these films like La Bamba, like Stand And Deliver, like Selena, and they end up saying that those are the exceptions and not the norm. The norm is Latino's don't exist. You know, Andy Garcia has had problems trying to launch a movie. Jimmy Smits has had problems trying to launch a movie. It's very difficult and there are very few people who can. The African-American experience, which is really extraordinary, they hold down about 70% of all the images coming out right now, on film. Less than 2% are Latino. They're going to probably put us at about 17% of the population with the census, but what I think it's about 21 or 22%. One out of every five people in this country are Latino. That's a reality that people have to come to terms with and they don't want to (Laughs). Nobody does.
Have you had a chance to see Machete yet and how that film humorously deals with the immigration issue?
Edward James Olmos: No, I haven't and I've been really anxious to see it but I haven't been able to yet. I'll probably see it in the next 24 hours. There probably won't be too many Machete's, though. It didn't do what it had to do. It would've had to be number one. If it would've been number one on the box office for the weekend it came out, then you would've maybe seen another Machete. That's a perfect film to make a duplicate of. It's a great way to start, chopping up people (Laughs). Why not, man. Latino's are on the rise and they're out to chop everybody up with machete's. That will really get their attention.
Are there any Hispanic documentaries that just came out that you can recommend?
Edward James Olmos: Yeah, boy there are some good ones that just came out. This year, I've seen some of the finest documentaries that I've seen in many, many years. It's probably one of the most riveting years in many years. There was one called Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice. One of my non-profit's helped to distribute it. Eyes Wide Open explores today's South America and, man, that thing will just floor you. There's Sequestro and New Children of New York as well.
How is Selena herself, not just the film, relevant in the Latino culture?
Edward James Olmos: I think she's missed now more than ever. Like all great understandings, you don't know what you have until you lose it. Well, that's it. We appreciate her more now. I've heard her music more now than I ever did when she was alive and in more interesting venues. I've heard her on Muzak, the stuff they play in department stores and elevators. She's made it.
Is there anything that you're lining up to direct in the near future?
Edward James Olmos: Yeah, I'm trying to direct the Roy Benavidez story, who is a Medal of Honor hero. We're trying to get that working. I've also produced a couple of films that are coming out soon. One is called America, which is coming out of Puerto Rico and it's in Spanish. I'm also trying to get a couple of other pieces done. One is called Three Day Road, a tremendous journey during the first World War. It's a story about a couple of boys who get pulled into the first World War, they have to go over and fight and we see what happens to them. It's a wonderful story.
You can watch the Warner Bros. movies such as Selena, El Cantante, Pan's Labyrinth and others through your cable company's On Demand program throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, which just started on September 15. You can also watch Edward James Olmos in his Oscar-nominated performance in Stand And Deliver, which is available for Digital Download at iTunes.