Cine Latino covers, well, all things relating to Latino culture and the movies, every Friday.
With Liam Neeson's Taken 2 hitting theaters today, we decided to highlight a few badass Hispanic actors that have been kicking butt for decades.
Ever since his 1992 film role as an aspiring bullfighter in Jamón Jamón, Javier Bardem quickly established himself as an action star. He's played a bank robber, a detective, a crime lord, a twisted monk and a sociopath assassin in No Country for Old Men, which garnered him his first Academy Award for best supporting actor. In a recent interview with GQ, Bardem admits he doesn’t like watching himself in action. "I was raised not to be afraid to show emotion or imagination [but] the fact that I like to make characters doesn’t mean that I like to watch my characters being made, my performance," said Bardem. Fortunately for Bardem we love watching his performances. Fans can catch this bad boy in Skyfall this November.
With a childhood nickname like "Skinny Beno" you wouldn’t think Benicio del Toro would grow up to play such vicious-deathly characters on the big screen. Recently, while promoting Savages, the Puerto Rican star explained his fascination with dark characters, "They are meaty roles for the most part. With the bad guy you have more freedom to experiment and go further out than with a good guy," said Del Toro. And his body of work says it all, License to Kill, The Unusual Suspects, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Traffic, Snatch, 21 Grams, Sin City, Che, The Wolfman and many more.
Danny Trejo is known as a badass on-screen and off-screen. For years he's been called "The Mayor" in his hometown for being the go to mediator between cops and gang members. Despite taking Hollywood by storm, Trejo is very appreciative of his success. He describes his road to fame as, "Unreal. It wasn’t too long ago that I was sitting in prison and now I'm starring in a Hollywood film. I knew that if I would stick to it long enough that good things would happen and they did. And I'm still playing the mean-looking Mexican!" His most notable roles include From Dusk Till Dawn, Heat, Grindhouse and Machete.
It was Pedro Almodovar's Law of Desire that gave birth to Antonio Banderas' career. His crossover soon came when Robert Rodriguez's cast him as the lead in Desperado, subsequently making straight-legged-skinny jeans ever so popular. He steamed things up again in The Mask of Zorro and went on to work in Evita, Once upon a Time in Mexico, the Shrek franchise, Spy Kids, Haywire and Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In. He recently finished filming Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups and is currently working on what could be his biggest starring role to date, 33 días as Pablo Picasso. For all that and more, Banderas is one hot 52 year-old actor.
Alfred Molina began his acting career in Hollywood as a deceptive guide in Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, followed by supporting roles in Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Chocolat and Frida. By 2004, Molina had morphed into the evil Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. His mix ethnic background, Spanish and Italian, has allowed Molina to play an array of international characters. Plus, he's the only actor to have three Lego mini-figures modeled after his most popular action roles, Spider-Man 2's Doctor Octopus, Raiders of the Lost Ark's Satipo and Prince of Persia's Sheik Amar. Pretty cool, right?
Demián Bichir has always been a chameleon. The Mexican star first instilled fear in us as Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s Che and just a few months ago he showed his unscrupulous nature as a corrupt lawyer in Oliver Stone’s Savages. Bichir's new found success in Hollywood is keeping the star pretty busy with supporting roles in Machete Kills, The Heat and Words with Gods. So how does he keep himself looking mighty fine? Well, here's his secret, "I’m always conscious of my diet and my exercise but that’s only because I like exercising and sports," Bichir told us earlier this year. "I cook very simple things to survive but nothing fancy. I’m pretty good. Everything is a la parilla."
Our dear Andy Garcia completes the roundup. The 56-year old Cuban actor recently strapped on ammunition in For Greater Glory alongside Oscar Isaac and Eva Longoria. Garcia's road to fame came in the late '80s and '90s thanks to successful films like The Godfather Part III, The Untouchables, Internal Affairs and Desperate Measures. In 2001 he joined George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven and its sequels. Still keeping it gangsta, it's rumored that he'll be co-starring with Mickey Rourke in Mobster: A Call for the New Order.
Honorable mentions: Nestor Carbonell, Benjamin Bratt, Jimmy Smits, Ruben Blades, Esai Morales, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman and Martin Sheen.
Who else would you add to this roundup? Let us know in the comment section below.