Love Michael Peña, and I’ve interviewed him a few times over the years, beginning with his break-out in “World Trade Center.”
He’s made fine comic foils and a first rate Cesar Chavez, is always credible as star or co-star, playing cops and BFF to “Ant Man” and the like.
But there’s a half-joking crack I’ve parked in reviews of maybe a dozen movies where he’s a co-star. Is he the ONLY Latinx actor Hollywood thinks of when they want to diversify the cast of this thriller, that comedy or action film? Because it sure seems that way.
Look at the trailer to “Fantasy Island.” Does he suggest exotic sophistication, romance and inscrutable menace the way aged “Latin Lover” Ricardo Montalban did? How LONG was the list of people the studio considered for the role of Mr. Rourke? It sure looks like the usual “Just get Michael Peña” ethos prevailed.
And the guy just looks off in this setting.
Banderas might not have been available, but he was the more obvious choice. Watching “The Grudge” the other night (which followed this trailer), I thought “Demián Bichir could have shaved and purred his way through that role and been more interesting in it.”
The trailer I posed earlier today stars another more interesting choice — Andy Garcia. He’d be in that Banderas ballpark. Jimmy Smits? Esai Morales? Benjamin Bratt?
Make Mr. Rourke “Ms. Rourke” and Salma Hayek would have delivered something I’m not seeing in that clip below. She would have KILLED it.
I have no issue with grabbing an aged TV brand and conjuring something dark out of it. But I think they’ve blown Big Screen “Fantasy Island” by showing an unwillingness to hunt for the best linchpin actor to hold it all together.
As I’ve said many times in jest, let me now say in all seriousness, “Guys and gals, there’s more than ONE Latin leading man out there. Peña can be on your short list, but when he’s the ONLY one on the list, you’re missing out.”