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Interview: Michael Peña is Just a Regular Dude Doing Extraordinary Things

Michael Pena Ant-Man
Marvel

Michael Peña is the first to admit that he’s one of luckiest Latinos in the U.S. Why? He gets paid big bucks to play everyday guys in movies. We caught up with Peña, who has two movies in theaters this week – Ant-Man and The Vatican Tapes – to find out what makes him tick. Here’s what we learned:

His Son Inspires His Career Choices

Paul Rudd, Roman Pena and me at the #AntMan premiere.

A photo posted by Michael Pena (@mvegapena) on

At only six years old, Peña’s son is already a movie fanatic. “He can remember almost every scene in a movie. He even makes little videos with zombies. I decided to join Ant-Man because of him, he really inspired me. Even Cesar Chavez, I don’t know if I would have done it. In acting you’re alone and it’s almost a selfish process because all you’re worried about is your career and what role is going to be good for you. And now that I have a son, I think more about others than about myself. I just want to make him happy.”

His Admiration for Cesar Chavez Came from His Parents

Me as Cesar Chavez

A photo posted by Michael Pena (@mvegapena) on

“My parents were farmers so I really had them in mind when making [Cesar Chavez],” said Peña. “It was tough to make a movie about a very quiet person. He wasn’t the best speaker and he wasn’t trying to be. In a way, there was one thing that I was uncomfortable when doing the movie and it was basically the politics that came with the job. Once you become acquainted with Sacramento, you realize they’re not really voting for the issue but for their party. Which means the party isn’t for the people but Cesar Chavez was 100% for the people. He wasn’t biased towards any party. He just wanted to help people.”

He Believes Latinos Should Be More Politically Active…

“I do think that when we come to this country it’s important to learn English,” said Peña. “When my parents came to this country they decided to be Americans and they voted. We do need to exercise that right.”

And Voting is a Way to Make Yourself Heard 

Michael Peña Chavez

“We just heard Donald Trump say Mexicans are criminals and rapists. If he wanted the Latino vote he ain’t going to get it. Voting is the way to prove people wrong. There are far more good Latinos than there are criminals. Even the cops, there are way more good one than bad ones. But it all starts with us, we need to take action.”

Danny Trejo: Machete Wielder, Coffee Shop Saver and American Hero

When it Comes to Acting, He Just Wants to Play Regular Dudes

Michael Peña
Credit: Open Road Films

His on-screen roles in Crash, End of Watch and most recently The Vatican Tapes have one thing in common, all are regular people trying to make a difference. “I like playing characters that are as close to a real person as possible. Two of my favorite actors, Jack Lemmon and Dustin Hoffman always played the everyday man. There is something about an everyday man doing something extraordinary that’s just admirable. To overcome the nervousness and be brave, I’m just fascinated by that.”

Working on Ant-Man Wasn’t So Easy…

“It was intimidating for sure,” confessed Peña, who played the role Luis, the motor-mouthed best friend of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. “There are just more eyes on you, more pressure, more executive producers and a larger production team. Instead of being in one room with two cameras, you’re thrown into five enormous studios with large camera cranes.”

But Loyal Fans Make It All Worth It

Breakfast burrito it's been a long time #tacosdelta #silverlake

A photo posted by @salval on

“I love going to Tacos Delta in Echo Park. The asada tacos are so good, and they have this sauce that’s just insane,” admits Peña, who said one day he had a tear-jerking moment with one of the employees. “One of the cooks came out from the kitchen to share with me that I was an inspiration to him. He was a big man with a bunch of tattoos. I could tell he has lived life, maybe gone through some tough times, and if that guy can find inspiration in my work, it’s all worth it. I drove off wondering what movie of mine had he watched that inspired him. It’s not like people are thanking me for being in People Magazine, that’s different, they’re coming up to me because of my actual acting work.”

His Acting is Influenced By EJO…

Which Edward James Olmos role stands out most? “Stand and Deliver with Edward James Olmos,” said Peña. “He was also doing Miami Vice around that time. I was a Latino kid in Chicago, watching Olmos on the big screen. It was so surreal. I also really loved La Bamba. I can quote that movie all day.”

Sorry, Ant-Man, but You’ve Got Nothing on El Chapulín Colorado

So, What’s Michael Peña’s American Dream?

“The American Dream isn’t a white picket fence anymore,” said Peña. “It’s being able to do something that you dream of. My parents are a great example of people who are living the American Dream. They they came from poverty and found a way through hard work to provide for their family, now they even have a pension.”

What’s your favorite Michael Peña movie? Let us know below.

Tessa Thompson Met A Mini Version Of Herself During ‘Men In Black’ Premiere

Entertainment

Tessa Thompson Met A Mini Version Of Herself During ‘Men In Black’ Premiere

When the original “Men In Black” premiered in 1997, there’s no denying it was a mega box office hit. In fact, we’re a bit more surprised that it took this long for there to be another installation to the franchise. Now, 22 years later, the new version, fittingly titled, “Men In Black: International” the film is more inclusive, which is certainly appreciated in this day and age.

It’s because of this diverse representation that Latinas can see themselves on the big screen.

Last week, during the “Men In Black” premiere Tessa Thompson spotted a little girl who was dressed just like her in the movie.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

Thompson recounted the moment on Instagram and discussed how much she’s been through with the filming of the movie and doing press all over the world. She said it was this moment that meant so much to her.

“These past couple weeks have been almost a blur— except, my favorite moment of all— meeting the one person I really made @meninblack for. Hers was the first face I saw when I arrived to the premiere— and it’s still on my mind. And what she said to me, I’ll never forget.”

This moment really signifies why representation matters so much.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

People seem to forget how many others are excluded when we see a movie or TV show, so when you see a person that looks like you starring in a massive project, it’s an encouraging thing that means to so many. Now we’re wondering what that little girl said to her. Please tell us, Tessa!

Thompson’s role in the new “Men In Black” also came with a couple of changes including something she didn’t want to say just because Will Smith said it in the original.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

Thompson said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t want the new movie to be too much like the old one, which makes sense especially because this is 2019! We don’t need to regress to 1997.

In the original movie, Smith says “I make this look good” after he first puts on his suit. Thompson said she would never say that line.

“I wouldn’t have said it. In fact, I think someone did ask me to — just as an option — and I said no. M [her character] is just different from that character [Agent J/Smith]. Yeah, I was really conscious of too much nostalgia. Also, inside of that, there were moments when I thought, ‘Let’s lean in.'”

Yes!! That is why we need more women of color in movies!

90’s Cult Classic ‘The Craft’ Is Being Remade For Our Generation With Its Lead Role Going To Trans Latina Woman

Entertainment

90’s Cult Classic ‘The Craft’ Is Being Remade For Our Generation With Its Lead Role Going To Trans Latina Woman

tarotbymaisy / Instagram

There are so many reboots and revivals and sequels to nostalgic media of the past right now that it’s hard to keep track, and it’s often hard to care. And too many of them just retread the same ground the originals already covered — a cash grab, and not a reinterpretation of a beloved story, bringing something new and original to familiar ground.

But maybe, just maybe, the reboot of ‘90s teen girl witchcraft staple, The Craft, isn’t going to fall into that trap.

Friday afternoon, a casting notice began circulating on Twitter, saying that Blumhouse Productions is looking to cast a trans-Latina actress for one of the main roles.

Credit: @anderfinn / Twitter

The notice reads: “Transgender, to play Latina, a punk rocker, Lourdes is the second member of the teenaged Clique. Her super-Catholic mother threw her out for being trans and she now lives with her 80 year old abuela, who has taught Lourdes a variety of supernatural practices.”

The flyer goes on to specify that yes, they are seeking an actual trans actress for the role.

Yup, the 1996 horror about four outcast teen witches is getting the LGBTI-inclusive reboot treatment

Credit: captainabsea / Instagram

The Craft (the original) was a 1996 film starring Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Fairuza Balk, and Rachel True as teenagers who dabble in witchcraft until, naturally, everything goes terribly wrong when they get a little too power-hungry. Upon release, it received mixed reviews from critics and only grossed $55 million worldwide, but has since developed a devoted cult following.

It’s an iconic film, and one that was destined to join the ranks of rebooted flicks from the ‘90s.

Basically, all of the Internet is totally here for it.

Pretty much all of Twitter is saying how excited they are for this and that the project has so much potential.

And many are adding one big demand – don’t f*ck it up!

Like I mean just imagine a fierce Latina bruja in such a badass role!

Credit: @TransEquality / Twitter

This is absolutely something I would want to watch.

Many point out that The Craft was already an iconic queer film and this is just the cherry on top.

Like for real though, basically everyone who has been to a sleepover or had a Netflix and chill kind of night, has seen this amazing movie.

It’s time that a new generation gets its own adapted version.

All of this is made even more exciting because just this year the original cast reunited for the very first time.

Credit: @Nevecampbell10 / Twitter

Was this a tease at things to come? Or just a strange coincidence?

Our new version of The Craft is being produced by the same company behind The Purge and Paranormal Activity.

Doug Wick, one of the producers of the new film told Entertainment Weekly that, “there will be callbacks to the original movie, so you will see there is a connection between what happened in the days of The Craft and how these young women come across this magic many years later.” He adds that the film will be more like a sequel, which we are so excited to discover.

“Here are some young women who once again discover the power of magic, and we explore their emotional lives, their wants, their fears, their longings, as they become empowered,” he added.

The reboot is expected to start shooting in July 2019 with a likely 2020 release.

I mean same, right? This movie can’t come soon enough for diehard fans of The Craft.

What are some of your favorite cult classic films that you’d like to see remade?

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