Cine Latino covers, well, all things relating to Latino culture and the movies, every Wednesday.
We talked with Olmos about his return to the big screen as a bad boy and his long-stemming career in Hollywood. Oh, and he also shares a few of his favorite things.
Olmos plays Papi Greco, a dangerous drug lord who runs a steer ranch in Sonora, Mexico and manages the transport of Mexican drugs out of Latin America.
"It's a very well-crafted story," said Olmos. "You don’t really know until the very end what the real situation is. I play a guy that's essentially just trying to help his family but he's a drug dealer. It doesn’t justify his behavior but if he doesn't do things others will. It's a very honest look at the contributions of different parts of the American government in the actual drug situation."
Sounds pretty serious. But just how much fun did Olmos have torturing Washington and Wahlberg?
"It's always fun playing the bad guy," said Olmos. "There's a scene where I had Denzel and Mark hanging from their feet. I love that scene, it's one of my favorites in the film."
Of course, Washington and Wahlberg weren't so overjoyed about being strung up by their feet and pummeled by Olmos with a baseball bat. During the film's press conference they both agreed Olmos was having a bit too much fun beating them up.
"I think that was the day Edward was intentionally forgetting his lines. He really loved us being up in that position," said Wahlberg. "He had a big grin on. Because the first scene we did together, we had him tied up and we're slapping him around, so then we ended up tied and upside down. Denzel didn’t want to hang upside down too long either. So we shot the essentials and got out of there."
"My back is better now, much better, but I had fun doing that scene," said Washington. "Mark and I were both game and went for it. Still, with a bull snorting at you, that’s enough to tell your secrets."
Olmos is best known for his Oscar-nominated role in Stand and Deliver, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and Olmos couldn't help but boast about its success.
"It's a film that keeps on giving. It's one of the most successful films in America, of any one film, whether it be Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders or Avatar, nothing compares to Stand and Deliver because of its influence on the youth and its use in school rooms for the past 25 years. Millions of kids see it every year."
Despite Olmos' successful career and memorable roles– Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice, Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena and William Adama in Battlestar Galactica among them–the actor says he still feels like a token in Hollywood.
"You always feel like a token in Hollywood. Even today it's pretty political. You'll always be a person trying to maintain a place in the art world."
"Latinos are the number-one moviegoers in America and 50% percent of the population and we're still underrepresented in Hollywood. We need to create projects and be more involved," said Olmos.
Edward James Olmos' Favorites:
Up-and-Coming Actor: Michael Peña
Horror Film: The Exorcist
Sci-fi Film: Blade Runner
Comic Book: Superman
Food Item: Sushi
Candy: Peanut M&Ms
Vacation Spot: Isla de Mujeres, Mexico
Dance Music: Mambo
Singer: Nat King Cole
Cartoon: Mickey Mouse
Novela: General Hospital [Laughs]