Interview with Eugenio Derbez: How to be a Latin Lover

I think Anjelica said it best the other day. Of all the things we’ve had the opportunity to do as a result of this blog and platform, meeting big names like Eugenio Derbez is probably right up there on the list of things that most impress our mothers when it comes right down to it. Not just because they’re celebrities and very famous. More earnestly because they’re the actors and comedians we grew up watching together as a family on Spanish-language television.

I mean does anyone not remember La Familia Peluche?

They were so hilarious.

And they really did represent a different era in Spanish-language entertainment. Think before narco novelas. That was the first thing we told Eugenio Derbez when we met him in person a few days ago in Houston. “We have been huge fans of your work since you were on Univision!” He was very gracious about it and acknowledged it is a little bizarre to have both a longtime audience that’s been following his career for decades and people who are just discovering him as an actor and producer in Hollywood.

We caught up with Eugenio in a private suite at a downtown hotel during his Houston stop for his latest promotional tour. He’s on publicity run for his newest film How to be a Latin Lover, which opens in theaters across the US on April 28. The night before Edgar and I had attended an advance screening of the film where Eugenio also made an appearance for a few minutes to thank the room full of eager moviegoers, and to encourage us to continue supporting films like his (by Latinos and for Latinos) as often as possible. As he explained, “when these projects succeed, we all succeed.”

On the way up to his suite his publicists shared with us that he had traveled straight from the airport to the movie theater the night before, all the while concerned that he wouldn’t make it in time to thank the audience in person. After a round of media interviews in Houston on this day he would be headed straight to the airport again, onto Austin, Texas for his next stop.

Eugenio was funny and warm when he greeted us, agreeing to do our interview in Spanglish after some back and forth between Anjelica and I about either sticking to all English or English and Spanish. We settled on Spanglish because that’s how we talk, and well, we’re in Texas folks. Dressed pretty casually with jeans, tennis shoes, a white buttoned down shirt, and a black cardigan, Eugenio was notably thinner than his character Maximo on How to be a Latin Lover. He was relaxed and very open during our interview.

We talked about the film, his costar Salma Hayek, the significance of two Mexican actors playing two lead Mexican characters in a major Hollywood movie, and his thoughts on the state of Latino entertainment in the United States. For a funnyman he has quite an insightful take on making it in Hollywood.

Watch our full conversation with Eugenio Derbez below:

When the interview was over we took a few pictures together, exchanged abrazos, and wished him continued success on all his upcoming projects. We departed the room, but not before persuading him to personalize a snapchat message for us as well. Eugenio was definitely as down to earth and sencillo as we had hoped.

Regarding the film itself, we think it is destined to be a box office hit. The movie is hilarious in a very Mexican kind of way. The sense of humor it exudes feels very authentic to anyone who’s grown up around mexicanos all of their lives like we have. It’s funny, and not at all vulgar as one might imagine from the title. Kids can surely come along to enjoy the laughs too. How to be a Latin Lover, like Eugenio’s previous work in films like Under the Same Moon and Instructions Not Included, also has a ton of heart. One could begin to weave humor and heart as the definition of Eugenio’s body of work in Hollywood these days.

Salma Hayek has never been better. As Maximo’s sister Sara she is silly and salty, all while giving one of her best comedic performances since Fools Rush In. She keeps up with Eugenio’s banter and spontaneity, and that makes this movie a joy to watch.

I’m definitely going back to watch this movie again, and probably taking my mother to watch it with me too.