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Ben Silverman Archives -

Ben Silverman Archives -

Jack Rico


2010/04/14 at 12:00am

Exclusive! Oscar Jaenada is confirmed to be ‘Cantinflas’!

04.14.2010 | By |

It is now official. Spanish actor Oscar Jaenada, who will be starring in Warner Bros’ ‘The Losers’ this year, has been tapped to play Mario ‘Cantinflas’ Moreno, Mexico’s most famous comedian, in the biopic Cantinflas. My source, who is directly involved in the casting of the film, has confirmed the choice for the lead.

Jaenada’s selection in the lead role puts to rest a year long debate amongst many Latino fans on who should play the comedic icon. Many, including myself, had John Leguizamo and Diego Luna pegged as the front runners. According to my source, there was a sit down with Mexican heartthrob Diego Luna to interpret the role, but talks fell through. Gael García Bernal, another revered Mexican actor, was never approached for the part. The rest of the casting decisions will not happen until the end of May when candidates will be given the finished script to gauge their interest and desire.

The decision to hire Jaenada might turn out to be a controversial one as there could be many risks in hiring a Spaniard to play one of Mexico’s national treasures. The fanatical loyalty that Mexicans feel towards Cantinflas is overwhelming. ‘Concepción,’ one of the many people who wrote to the site early last year to discuss casting choices, said in one of the comments, “Any Mexican with a Cantinflas resemblance and a quick wit would do better… They [Hollywood] are just going for the stupid habit of getting some one with a name to play him. Another blunder like so many done in film. A good film is 90% casting. So, I guess, the movie will be unwatchable.”

She’s half right, half wrong. It is true that Hollywood producers usually use a big name to attract audiences, but Jaenada is relatively an unknown in the States. This plays in the benefit of the decision makers of the film. They didn’t sell out to Australian actor Sam Worthington who seems to be in everything now a days!

Oscar Jaenada is a good choice. He looks a lot like him, he’s a fan of the comedian’s work and they even called him Cantinflas when he was 8 years old. According to people close to the film, they were blown away by him at the audition. They feel he is a skilled actor who is the winner of a Goya award from Spain. This is not to say that the producers didn’t debate the pros and cons, but felt that – “acting is an international job, not limited to where the actors are from.” That statement rings true since it helped make Puerto Rican actress Jennifer Lopez a success when she played slained Mexican singer ‘Selena.’

Oscar Jaenada is 'Cantinflas'

My source could not disclose the full contents of the script, but did say that they fully revamped the storyline. It will now be about the origins and rise of Cantinflas to fame.

Former NBC Chairman and President, Ben Silverman, is still the executive producer of the project and Mexican born Alejandro Monteverde (Bella) is the writer/director of the film.

Cantinflas is set to shoot Fall of 2010 with a 2011 release date, just in time for the 100th celebration of his birth.

As a final note, my source said to tell any Mexican that might have a problem with Oscar Jaenada playing Cantinflas – “just like you made Luis Buñuel Mexican, when you see Jaenada as Cantinflas you’re going to want to give him a Mexican citizenship!”

What do you guys think of the casting decision? Are you for it or against it? Weigh in!

Jack Rico


2009/01/19 at 12:00am

Exclusive! ‘Cantinflas’ producer Jay Weisleder talks cast, premise and a 2010 release

01.19.2009 | By |

Exclusive! 'Cantinflas’ producer Jay Weisleder talks cast, premise and a 2010 release

Just last week, Variety announced that NBC Chairman and President Ben Silverman was going to executive produce the biopic of ‘Cantinflas,’ the most famous comedian in Mexico’s history. Since not much was said, we had to get in contact with Jay Weisleder, a 34 year old Costa Rican Jewish producer and brainchild behind bringing the comedian’s life to the big screen, to expand on the details of the project.

We called him on his cell phone while he was in Los Angeles and here’s what we were able to obtain and print on record:

– The lead for the film is unknown and they will not be looking for potential lead actors until Alejandro Monteverde, the co-writer and director, finishes developing the script. Four years ago they had in mind Diego Luna, Wilmer Valderrama, John Leguizamo and Gael Garcia Bernal to play the role. When we probed Weisleder about Leguizamo, he said he saw ‘Paraiso Travel’ and enjoyed his performance in it and that he would love to sit with him and other potential candidates in the near future. His criteria, though not strict, has him nailing down a Mexican actor which is why we think he is leaning towards Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. Since Gael is the stronger actor of the two, we’ll assume he’s their #1 desired candidate. On the female front, Natalie Portman, Rachel McAdams, Scarlett Johansson are being thought of as possible co-stars.


– The synopsis has been a kept secret from the press due to the delicate, sensitive nature of the script. We were conveyed the whole plot line, but were asked, off the record, to not print any verbiage of it. What we can tell you is that most of the story will be focused around two characters and a possible third one, a female. It will also explore self discovery, responsibility, a coming of age theme and an intense family transgression. As soon as we get the ok, we will posting up more info about the film in the upcoming weeks.

– The movie will be spoken in Spanish with some scenes in English and they’ll be shooting for a 2010 Mexican/US production release under, perhaps, a Universal Pictures distribution.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cantinflas’ work, here’s a snippet of his acting from ‘Around the World in 80 Days’

We want to get more of your feedback on the casting process and see if you have better ideas on who should be playing Cantinflas. Stay webbed!

Jack Rico


2009/01/13 at 12:00am

John Leguizamo to play ‘Cantinflas’ in biopic?

01.13.2009 | By |

John Leguizamo to play 'Cantinflas' in biopic?

As soon as I heard Cantinflas was announced as a major motion picture film, I immediately thought of colombian actor John Leguizamo as the perfect lead. For those who don’t know who Cantinflas is, he was the greatest film comedian Mexico ever produced. Leguizamo would be an obvious choice and here are the 3 reasons why:

1. He physically looks like him

2. He speaks Spanish (broken Spanish, but he speaks it)


3. He’s a natural comedian

One problem producers will confront from the get go would be his Spanish. He has a Nuyorican accent he can’t shake – have you heard him in Love in the Time of Cholera playing a colombian? He sounds like… you guessed it, a Puerto Rican from New York. Leguizamo, who was born in Bogota, Colombia, will have to master an authentic Mexican accent without sounding like Speedy Gonzalez. If he does that, and Alejandro Gomez Monteverde can write a formidable script, we could see a watershed moment in Leguizamo’s acting career for the better. Salma Hayek did something similar with ‘Frida’ and the results were an Oscar nomination as best actress for that role. I don’t see anyone else with a recognizable name playing the Mexican icon, unless they go with an unknown, which would be a bad business move if the producers go that route. Let’s see what happens, folks!

Here is a pic of Leguizamo with a moustache. What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Below is the Variety report about the Cantinflas biopic:

Latino comic and actor Cantinflas, his real name is Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes, who helped usher in the golden era of Mexican filmmaking in the 1940s and ’50s, will be the focus of a biopic by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde.

Alejandro Gomez Monteverde will co-write and direct “Cantinflas,” a biopic about the comedian and actor who helped usher in a golden era of Mexican filmmaking in the ’40s and ’50s.

NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman will serve as an exec producer on the feature film with Monteverde and TV producer Jay Weisleder producing. Monteverde, whose drama “Bella” won the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Intl. Film Festival, will co-write the script with Jose Portillo.

Despite his debut to American audiences in “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), Cantinflas is not well known in the English-speaking world.

After pitching the idea to Silverman, Weisleder told the reluctant exec to ask any Latino about Cantinflas. “The moment he did that he called me from a restaurant and said ‘I got 10 people following me. Everybody knows who he is. We gotta do this,’ ” Weisleder said.

As the founder and former owner of Reveille, Silverman remains attached as an exec producer on several Reveille features projects, which include the Kurt Cobain biopic at Universal and “Staked Plains” at Focus.

Weisleder worked with Silverman at Reveille and has several television projects in development, including the comedy “My Problems With Women,” exec produced by Justin Timberlake. Monteverde and Weisleder secured the rights with the late actor’s son, Mario Moreno Ivanova, who will serve as an associate producer on the project.

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