Actor, writer, director, and producer Eugenio Derbez recently sat down with Electric Bento as the Dora and the Lost City of Gold press tour stopped in Phoenix. We talked about his influences, what the movie means for future generations, and the life lessons it can teach us all. Oh, and we cracked some jokes too. Our thanks to Paramount Pictures for the opportunity to sit down with Eugenio Derbez.
EB: One of the things about this film that I appreciated was the physical comedy. Did you have experience in the past with broad, physical comedy?
Eugenio Derbez: I have a lot of experience. For some reason in Latin America, we like to do comedy in a broader way; everything is big, big, big. It’s really hard for me to make everything grounded. For me this was easy.
EB: Live action films are a huge trend in Hollywood right now. For audiences who might be feeling a bit fatigued by the trend, what would you say about this film right now?
Eugenio Derbez: I love the cartoon. The storyline in the cartoon is quite simple, honestly. It’s very simple. I think this movie is really different; they did a great job with the script, they made a more three-dimensional character, it has humor for everyone. The fact that the director is an amazing comedy director, James Bobin. He was constantly bringing in jokes and jokes. There’s jokes for everyone, so if you go with your kids, your bolitas, toddlers, teenagers, whoever, they’re going to enjoy the movie because it has humor for everyone. It makes fun of the cartoon. During the first three minutes, you understand that we’re mocking Dora.
EB: One of the lessons that Dora has is to stay true to yourself. Do you have any examples in your career of where you stayed true to yourself?
Eugenio Derbez: Yes. I was born and raised in Mexico. I built my entire career there, my shows were always very successful. One day, I did a movie called Instructions Not Included, my life changed and all of a sudden, the doors to Hollywood opened and it’s like “now or never.” I came here and I thought, “I’m not going to be better than Adam Sandler, or Will Farrell, or Will Smith; it’s not my language.” So, at first, I was trying to be like them. And one day, I said, “No, I have to be what I am, be myself.”
EB: Not only are you an actor in the film, but you’re also one of the producers. Were you attached as an actor first or did you come on as a producer and then demand to be an actor in it?
Eugenio Derbez: No, no. It came at almost the same time. When I heard about Dora, I told my agents that I want to be a part of this because I was always complaining that in Hollywood, they were portraying Latinos in a negative way. When I was aware that this movie was in development, I told my agents I want to be a part of this because it’s a good way to portray Latinos on the screen. I was in charge of supervising anything related to the Latino culture. I also did the adaptation of the script into Spanish with one of my writers as well as the Spanish dubbing.
EB: You’re a very physical comedian, we saw a lot of that on the screen. Your performance reminded me a lot of Peter Sellers. You also spend a good deal of time with four teenagers on the screen, who come across as very mature for their characters and their ages. Did you have to adjust your performance to be on an even level with the teenagers or did you find it easy enough to adapt to their performances?
Eugenio Derbez: Interesting question. Well, first of all I am a huge Peter Sellers, one of my favorite comedians ever. When I was with the kids, I was a new face for them. Isabela [Moner] knew me, but for the rest of them, they were like “who is this guy?” We decided to play this character sort of like an idiot, but you never know if he is doing that on purpose or not or if he’s trying to trick the kids, giving them confidence. I was trying to play this character to be one more kid, because I’m silly. I was trying to play that bridge.
EB: Referencing your filmography, your films to this point have been more geared toward adults. Dora is geared towards younger audiences. How special is it that you’re getting to share this movie with your daughter?
Eugenio Derbez: It was really special. She was not aware of my career. The last one was Overboard. This is the first time she’s going to see me on the big screen and I was very excited.
Our thanks to Paramount Pictures and especially, Mr. Derbez for his time.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold is now in theaters and is rated PG. All photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures.