Mexican American comedic icon speaks with El Mundo Boston ahead of the premier of his new movie based on the inspirational true story of four Hispanic High School Students
Exclusive Interview with George Lopez:
- New movie “Spare Parts” opens this weekend
- Based on the inspirational true life story of four Hispanic high school students
BY TIM ESTILOZ
Comedian George Lopez refuses to be stereotyped or pigeon-holed. Throughout his successful career, this proud and sometimes strongly opinionated Mexican-American performer has marked his own unique path in Hollywood as a multi-faceted, multi-talented groundbreaking performer on stage, movie screens and television.
Lopez is also the first Hispanic to host a late night talk show on a major television network, “Lopez Tonight” on TBS. He’s also been featured in a number of feature films, but now he stars in “Spare Parts” opening nationwide January 16th, 2015.
El Mundo Boston writer, Tim Estiloz recently chatted with Lopez via telephone from Los Angeles about not only his new film; but also, about his life and career exclusively for El Mundo Boston.
What is it about this film, Spare Parts, that appealed to you most?
I’ve always liked movies about underdogs and heroes. A lot of times, a movie based on a true story tends to get a little bit melodramatic and wishy-washy. However, this one has surprisingly maintained the drive, the heart, the passion and the belief that these kids portrayed in the film don’t have at the beginning; but then, they find it along the way.
How does this film inspire Latinos?
Because of the immigration topic, which we address in Spare Parts, that our lives don’t matter, that our Latino culture is a second class culture or sub-culture – and its not. I believe that in the Latino culture that there’s a lot of burden that we carry that we sometimes self-inflict. We’re told from an early age to not think highly of ourselves in some ways because it’s conceit. There’s a knocking down of incentive, of drive and of hope among some of us, in some families. I think some of those aspects are shown through this film and triggers something very emotional for some individuals. But, the experience of the characters in this film shows we, as Latinos, can definitely beat the odds.
One of the themes in Spare Parts deals with undocumented immigrants seeking the American Dream trying unsuccessfully to enroll in the Army. Why is that theme such an important part of this film ?
America and the military is made up of many different people and nationalities. One thing that I know from the work I’ve done with the Wounded Warriors Project, is that there is a camaraderie that is beyond color when you are in the military together. And, to want to join the Army when the country is telling you that they don’t want you here (because of being undocumented ) is even more impressive and even more inspirational. When the film shows that there are people who want to serve under those circumstances, it’s very emotional and heartwarming.
Many do not know that in 2004, Harvard University honored you for your artistic and humanitarian work. How did you feel that day?
I remember that day at Harvard. When I walked into the first meeting room and all those kids started clapping; I did my little pose that I do on stage when I get down on my knee and they just went crazy. I wrote about that day in my autobiography and said seeing them made an old Chicano very happy. I cried when I said that and even right now… it’s just beyond my imagination and beyond my expectations.
I never imagined any of this happening and could not have imagined any of it.
What its like for Latinos in Hollywood and why can’t more films like this one with a positive message for Latinos get made ?
We’ve always been a little behind in the race from the beginning in Hollywood. We think about the beginning of television and the movies where Italians played Latinos and everybody played Latinos except Latinos. Now, there’s a thing where they’re often making movies that are mostly all black or all white; and that doesn’t do a service to the world in general by targeting the films to a certain audience. On the other hand, as a producer of Spare Parts, I wanted to make sure that everyone could see this movie. I don’t see my world as all brown. Nor do I see it as all black and white. I see it for what it really is, which is diverse and inclusive.
Why should people see your new film, Spare Parts ?
It’s what movie making is all about. It’s about seeing underdogs go in and become heroes. It’s a film that translates to all and everyone in the family will love. And, if you’re a kid, it will inspire you. If you’re a parent, it will inspire you to help your kids and also influence our own lives and what we can do ourselves to be better.
Follow Tim Estiloz on Twitter: @TimEstiloz
George Lopez’ Rise to Fame
Raised by his often harshly stern maternal grandmother, after being deserted by both his parents at an early age; Lopez found comedy to be the escape route from his difficult youth and meager home surroundings.
Along the way, Lopez broke new ground for Latinos in entertainment. In 1999, Lopez was the first Latino to host a major morning radio show on an English-language station in LA, the nation’s top radio market.
One year later, with the support of actress Sandra Bullock, Lopez would produce and star in his own popular Emmy-winning sitcom, The George Lopez Show, which is distinguished as being the second longest running sitcom in TV history to star an Hispanic lead, behind “I Love Lucy”. It remains a huge hit to this day in syndication after a six-season run on ABC.
Lopez is the first Hispanic to host a late night talk show on a major television network, “Lopez Tonight” on TBS and has been featured in a number of feature films. Now he stars in “Spare Parts” opening nationwide January 16th, 2015.
Opening nationwide Friday, January 16th, 2015.
The true life story about four Hispanic high school students who form a robotics club under the leadership of their school’s newest teacher, Fredi, portrayed by Lopez.
With no experience, $800, some salvaged used car parts and a dream, this rag tag team goes up against the country’s reigning robotics champion, MIT.
On their journey, they learn not only how to build a robot. They also learn lessons in self-esteem and cultural pride, while building a personal bond among them that will last a lifetime.