Mexican actor-writer Eugenio Derbez has been entertaining audiences in Latin America for over 20 years with hit TV comedy shows and novelas. Now Derbez is tackling Hollywood. Two years ago he made his first crossover attempt with a supporting role in Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill and last year he costarred with Eva Mendes in Girl in Progress. His most recent project, Instructions Not Included, opens in theaters this weekend and marks Derbez's first English starring role and directorial debut.
Derbez stars as a carefree playboy living in Acapulco without a worry in the world until a former fling surprises him by leaving their daughter at his doorstep.
We got to chat with Derbez in Los Angeles to talk about his most daunting film project to date and how Twitter made it all come together.
On the inspiration behind Instructions Not Included: I started writing this script 12 years ago after I saw Life Is Beautiful. I was really inspired by Life Is Beautiful and Cinema Paradiso. Then I saw Little Miss Sunshine years later and I thought I want to do a comedy with a lot of heart.
I studied a lot of films for years to reach this balance between a drama and comedy. It's not easy. First we wrote it as a drama and then we started adding bits of humor into the script. The goal was to have a natural flow.
On discovering his seven-year-old costar Loreto Peralta through Twitter: Through Twitter you can reach anyone. The script was originally written for a young boy so I looked for a boy for three or four months with no luck. I needed an actor who was blond with blue eyes and had great charisma. They also needed to speak perfect Spanish and English with no accent. Eventually, we decided to open it up to girls but all the casting agencies in Mexico and Los Angeles didn’t have this boy or girl so on a desperate attempt I decided to start tweeting.
I never thought I would find an actor through Twitter. Loreto wasn’t signed to an acting agency; in fact, she had never acted before. She wasn’t an actress at all. It was really risky and a challenge but I discovered a beautiful actress.
On his dream come true: I've been all around Los Angeles taking pictures of all the billboards. It's so exciting. Now it depends on the audience. I know I can count on the Hispanic audience but now I want to reach the general market. I think this movie could be the start of something. Life Is Beautiful is in Italian and it received great recognition. I hope this film can make a difference in my career.
On his advice to aspiring film directors: If you want to achieve any sort of success in this industry the first thing you need is a good script. The start of any film is a script. Sometimes people get caught up in looking for the big celebrity star first but the real key is in the writing. Second, you have to be prepared for when that opportunity finally comes knocking at your door and be prepared to fight for your vision.
On his relationship with Alfonso Cuaron: He's a really good friend of mine. I'm looking forward to Gravity. I've heard it's one of his best films ever so I can't miss it.
- Went head-to-head with Demián Bichir for the leading role in A Better Life
- Voices Donkey in the Latin American animated version of Shrek
- Has a need for speed. He's a Formula Three auto racing driver.
- Credits Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Rob Schneider as comedic inspirations
- Has a sweet tooth for flan, dulce de leche and caramel crepes
- Favorite restaurant in Los Angeles: Red O
- Dating advice: "The best aphrodisiac there can be is humor. A woman will always prefer to laugh than to be with a handsome boring man."