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.’
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 bornAlejandro 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!
I was just sent this press release for the new Cantiflas box setcoming out on May 11th. Sony is distributing it and we’re talking about it. After my exclusive scoop on Oscar Jaenada playing Cantinflas on the biopic movie, the buzz on Cantinflas has officially started!
Here’s more on the DVD releases which is probably worth your money.
Mario Moreno, aka “Cantinflas” created a simple, universal character whose roundabout phrases and meaningless speeches confounded those around him, but delighted Spanish-speaking audiences for decades. On May 11, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will debut seven comedy classics starring the beloved Mexican comedian that have never before been released on DVD: A Volar Joven, El Circo, El Gendarme Desconocido, El Mago, El Senor Fotografo, Los Tres Mosqueteros, and Si Yo Fuera Diputado. In addition, four titles are being re-released: El Bolero de Raquel, El Analfabeto, El Padrecito, and Su Excelencia. Each title in the Cantinflas collection will be available separately for $14.94.
Mario “Cantinflas” Moreno, whom the legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin dubbed “the funniest man in the world,” began his career in the 1930s in the “carpas” (tent shows) in Mexico City. After early attempts to find his comedic voice, he embraced his own heritage as a lowly slum dweller and audiences enthusiastically endorsed this comic persona. With his tiny mustache tipping the corner of his mouth, a cockeyed cap over dark, disheveled hair, dirty vest and a rope for a belt, Cantinflas became the idol of the masses by satirizing the police and politicians.
As a pioneer in the Mexican film industry, he helped usher in its golden era. His foray into American cinema landed him a Golden Globe® as Best Actor for his role in Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), but his comedic presence shined brightest in his Spanish language films. People everywhere identified with the struggles of this winsome ragamuffin, and when he died in 1993, thousands endured a violent downpour in order to touch his casket as it lay in state. His funeral was a national event, lasting three days and attended by the presidents of Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador, and the United States Senate held a moment of silence for him. El Gendarme Desconocido (1941, aka The Undercover Policeman) Cantinflas captures three bandits who had robbed a bank the night before. Considered a hero, Cantinflas is given the title of Agent 777 because of his ability to disguise himself in many different forms. In his ultimate assignment, he transforms himself into a wealthy jewel collector to set up a group of gangsters. The film has a runtime of 108 minutes and is not rated.
Los Tres Mosqueteros (1942, The Three Musketeers) Cantinflas sneaks into a cabaret where an actress is in the audience. He persuades her to dance with him, but, at the same time, thieves steal her valuable necklace. The actress is grateful when Cantinflas retrieves the necklace. When she invites him to the studio where she is filming The Three Musketeers, he is mistaken for an extra. The film has a runtime of 136 minutes and is not rated.
El Circo (1943, aka The Circus) Cantinflas is a lowly jack-of-all-trades in a circus. He is infatuated with its glamorous female star, and his hapless bumbling disrupts the performances and the circus falls on hard times. The only thing that can save the circus is a daring trapeze act. Cantinflas volunteers to do the act and is hilarious on the trapeze, creating such a sensation that a wealthy man decides to buy the circus. The film has a runtime of 90 minutes and is not rated.
A Volar Joven (1947) Cantinflas is a member of the Military Aviation Academy on a 24 hour leave. He goes back to the ranch where he left his sweetheart and his former employers. While there, his employers try to marry him off to their daughter whom he finds unattractive. To avoid having to marry the girl, Cantinflas tries every trick in the book to get himself in trouble. The film has a runtime of 113 minutes and is not rated.
El Mago (1949, aka The Magician) Cantinflas goes from the streets of Mexico to the fabulous palaces of the Far East. Overnight, he becomes a Caliph, then a magician, then several other fascinating characters, each one providing another facet of Cantinflas’ unique human comedy. The film has a runtime of 100 minutes and is not rated.
Si Yo Fuera Diputado (1952) Cantinflas stars as the owner of a barber shop, who is studying law with the help of Tio Juan (Andres Soler), once a very successful attorney who is now too ill to practice. Before long, Cantinflas begins his law practice and goes on to win many cases. Eventually he runs for office against the local political machine. The film has a runtime of 95 minutes and is not rated.
El Senor Fotografo (1953, aka Mr. Photographer) Cantinflas, a photographer, is captured by gangsters while trying to steal flowers for his girlfriend. The gangsters mistake him for the assistant to a scientist who has discovered a formula for a new atomic bomb. Cantinflas convinces the gangsters that a rubber ball he is holding is the real atomic bomb. The film has a runtime of 100 minutes and is not rated.
El Bolero de Raquel (1957) After arriving late and tipsy to his friend’s funeral, Cantinflas is left in charge of his friend’s son by the widow. Cantinflas and the boy, Chavita, meet Chavita’s teacher, who convinces Cantinflas that he should also go to school. When Cantinflas meets the teacher again they confess their love. The film has a runtime of 101 minutes and is not rated.
El Analfabeto (1961, aka The Illiterate One) Cantinflas plays a young illiterate who receives a letter informing him that his rich uncle has passed away leaving him a great fortune. However, he’ll need to learn to read and write before understanding the letter. The film has a runtime of 128 minutes and is not rated.
El Padrecito (1964, aka The Little Priest) Cantinflas stars as the new priest in a town set in its ways. Thinking he is going to take the place of their beloved priest, none of the townspeople like him. While there, he stirs up controversy with his eccentric way of doing things. The film has a runtime of 130 minutes and is not rated.
Su Excelencia (1967, aka His Excellency) Cantinflas works at the embassy for his native Los Cocos, distributing visas to those wishing to visit his homeland. At this time, the world is divided into two sections: those countries that are red and those that are green. Because both sides are evenly matched and Los Cocos has the deciding vote, Cantinflas becomes the Ambassador of Los Cocos and both sides try to persuade him to join them. The film has a runtime of 133 minutes and is not rated.
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!
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 inLove 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.