This year is shaping up to be a very busy one for actor Andy Garcia, arguably the most successful Hispanic actor of all time.
His new romantic comedy “At Middleton” starts today on Movies-On-Demand on cable, and the 57-year-old actor already is at work on his next film project.
Garcia, whose talents have been seen in movies including “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “The Untouchables,” “The Godfather Part III,” and “The Lost City,” complained he was exhausted just before his telephone interview with Centro Tampa, the Spanish-language newspaper published by Tampa Media Group.
He’d spent the day in his hometown of Los Angeles taking part in press junkets to promote the film, and was now in the cold confines of New York City.
In “At Middleton,” Garcia plays George, a father who takes his son on a college tour where he meets and falls in love with Edith, played by Vera Farmiga.
The native of Cuba said “At Middleton” intrigued him the moment he came in contact with the project.
“The genre, the style, the script … I liked them very much,” he said.
He not only committed to the lead role, he raised money to make the movie a reality.
The film is a family affair for both actors.
Farmiga’s sister, Taissa, who is 21 years younger, plays the role of Edith’s daughter, while García’s daughter, Daniella García-Lorido, plays the role of Daphne, a Middleton student the couple meets on campus.
“(Both) my daughters are professional actresses,” Garcia said. “We’re very close and for me it’s a privilege to be in scenes my with my daughter. I admire them not only as a father, but also as a colleague.”
The soundtrack for “At Middleton” was written and performed by Arturo Sandoval, with whom García has a long-running friendship. Garcia played the famous jazz trumpeter in the 2000 television mini-series “For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story,” a performance which earned him a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for Best Actor.
García already is at work on his next film, “Hemingway & Fuentes,” a movie about the famous novelist and his days in Cuba.
García will play the role of Gregorio Fuentes, the Cuban-Spanish fisherman who was the captain of Hemingway’s boat. Veteran actor Sir Anthony Hopkins will play the role of Hemingway, while Annette Bening will play Hemingway’s third wife, Mary. The film will be shot in the Dominican Republic.
“We’re very hopeful that we can start filming it this summer,” Garcia said. “I wrote the script with Hemingway’s niece, Hilary. It is a story I’ve wanted to tell for many years.”
CENTRO Tampa: Does the location for the film have something to do about your feelings regarding the Cuban regime?
Andy García: In part, but you just can’t shoot a movie in Cuba and even if you wanted to go film there, you can’t because the United States doesn’t have that kind of relationship with Cuba. That could change or you can try to find some sort of permit, but until now, that hasn’t happened. And quite frankly, I have no interest in going to Cuba. Don’t get me wrong, I want to go to Cuba, but I want to visit a free Cuba.
CT: So does that mean that you don’t believe that cultural exchange can lead to change, as is talked about so much in the media?
AG: What changes, lady? There are no changes in Cuba. Who says there has been change? Cuba has been under the fist of a regimen for the last 55 years. What has changed there? Nothing. If there was some sort of change the Damas de Blanco, the political prisoners and the dissidents would not be beaten. If there was change, Yoani Sánchez would not be arrested every time she gave her point of view. What are we talking about? There has been no change in Cuba!
CT: Would you be interested in seeking a political role in a free Cuba.
AG: No. Absolutely not. I’m an actor. I make movies.
CT: Well, let’s change the subject. Can you talk a little bit about your father’s perfume business in the United States and how you got your start.
AG: My father worked several jobs after he was exiled. The last was a business he started with my brother and of which I was a part of before I left Miami. I always working in the family business while I was in school.
CT: Your father produced perfumes?
AG: He was actually in the business of import and export of perfumes. My brother currently does have a perfume manufacturing business. He makes and distributes perfumes for celebrities. I worked with my father all through high school and also while I was studying theatre at FIU.
CT: Your family moved the United States when you were 5 years old. When you did you start feeling the call to the stage?
AG: I think I always had it in me, my love for the movies. But it wasn’t until my last year of high school that I actually took a class and I really enjoyed it and my teacher urged me to continue.
CT: Which actors did you follow back then?
AG: The obvious one, the heroes of the 60s like James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Peter Sellers. A little later, when I grew up a little more, I started identifying myself with actors such as Marlon Brando, who I began to know, and in terms of the leading men, a whole new generation of actors led by Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Jon Voight.
CT: Because of the fact that you were Hispanic, was it difficult to break through in those years?
AG: Yes. Very hard. But the barriers have changed and there’s a lot more opportunity today than there was in 1978. There are more places to work, there are more cable channels and the Hispanic stereotype has changed a bit for the better.
CT: Later this year we will also see you in a film opposite Sharon Stone, Kill the Messenger and you will lend your voice to an animated character in Rio 2. Talk to us a little about the animated character.
AG: [laughs] That was a fun experience, I really enjoyed it. In Rio 2 I’m the voice of a carácter named Eduardo, who is the king of the Blue Birds. Blue parrots and I’m the king of the parrots in the Amazon.