Mexican star Diego Luna and Venezuelan newcomer Genesis Rodriguez costar alongside Will Ferrell in Matt Piedmont’s Casa de Mi Padre, opening this weekend. Looking a little like if Robert Rodriguez had directed a spaghetti Western entirely in Spanish, the gist of it goes like this: Slick and sophisticated, Raul (Luna) has earned his father’s respect. His brother Armando (Ferrell)? Not so much. When their father's ranch falls into financial trouble, Raul looks like the savior of the day--until it turns out that his business isn't exactly legit. Meanwhile, there's a love triangle brewing between Raul, Armando, and Raul's fiancée, Sonia (Rodriguez).
I sat down with Luna and Rodriguez to talk about all things Casa de Mi Padre, from grabbing Will Ferrell’s butt to a Spanish language crash course. Check out the unedited videos below for complete sit-down interviews.
The project began several years ago, mostly because Will Ferrell thought starring in a Spanish-language comedy would be funny. A month before shooting he started working with a language coach to perfect his Spanish speaking skills. Rodriguez was the first to audition for Sonia and Ferrell knew right away she was the one. Luna and his best bud Gael García Bernal soon followed. When Luna heard of Casa, a spoof on the classic telenovelas broadcasted in Latin America, he thought all those involved were certainly a bit crazy.
“I did think that the people behind it were crazy people. I didn’t think that they could be serious about going all the way and shooting this film. Then I met the director and I [thought], “Oh, yes, he’s crazy. I get it,” confessed Luna.
Matt Piedmont, Emmy Award winner for his work on SNL, makes his directorial debut with Casa, joined by another likeminded soul in writer Andrew Steele. The film became the perfect opportunity for Piedmont, Steele and Ferrell to once again join forces (they previous worked together on SNL and Funny or Die).
“Will didn’t speak any Spanish at that time,” said Luna of their first encounter. “He says in the interviews that he [learned] in high school for three years but I was sitting in front of the guy and he couldn’t say more than 'hola and adios.'”
Admitting that it was hard to keep a straight face while shooting with Ferrell, Luna says that being a fluent Spanish speaker had its perks.
"It was tough to get to the end. The director would leave the camera rolling to get reactions and Will was so intense until the very end,” said Luna. “It was great because the director didn’t speak Spanish, Will didn’t speak Spanish so I was allowed to say anything I wanted. I would go to the monitor and ask, “Do you like it?” and they would say, “Yeah, it’s great.” I [thought] wait until someone tells them what I’ve just said.”
Rodriguez, best known for her work in Spanish telenovelas and most recently for her feisty role on Man on a Ledge, is the daughter of music icon Jose Luis Rodriguez (“El Puma.”) She was quick to praise Ferrell for his acceptance and for his kissing skills.
“I had the best time. I wish we could do a sequel, a trilogy,” said Rodriguez. “I think it’s Will at his best. He really blew me out of the water. I felt his acceptance. I felt that he validated me so he allowed me to bring something to the table.”
So what about that kissing scene--or more to the point, the butt squeeze she gave Ferrell?
“Boy that man can kiss,” she said, laughing. “And you’re wondering about the butt, too, I know what you’re thinking. It’s a good butt.”
Growing up in a family known for their strong acting and musical sensibilities, Rodriguez always dreamed of making it to Hollywood.
“It was always my dream to be in films but this transition I never imagined. It was so well thought out, “God, thank you.” It’s [paying] homage to everything I did. This was the first movie I actually did. I did Man on a Ledge right after,” said Rodriguez.
In regards to the opportunities available in Hollywood Rodriguez stays hopeful.
“There are certainly opportunities and there are going to be more, I hope. There was one for me and I hope that whatever happens here…will open other doors for others to come,” said Rodriguez. “I think we have a lot to offer and I think people are noticing. Not only to be a Latino in a film but just a normal person that is a wonderful thing that we can see beyond our last name or our look and just be accepted. I consider myself as American as a cheeseburger. I have two cultures. I was brought up that way and like me there is a whole generation out there so I feel like this is really good, what’s happening for us, I really like it.”
Back to Luna, I couldn’t end the interview without asking for a brief Spanish lesson. According to Luna the two Spanish phrases you should know are, “que onda guey” and “no mames.”
“They have to know, no mames, that’s pretty important. The literal translation is “don’t suck,” which makes no sense but that helps you with everything. When someone is trying to take advantage of you, you say, “no mames.” When someone is funny, you say, “no mames,” explained Luna.
No mames is usually used in a teasing manner which translates to “you must be kidding.” But the phrase has other definitions as well that can also be translated to “Don’t f*** with me,” or “Don’t give me s***.” Use it at your own discretion.
Lesson number two included, “Que onda guey, you can get into a bar and say ‘que onda guey’ and everyone will think you’re Mexican,” said Luna.
This one is a bit tricky, depending on your tone, you could be saying, “what’s up” or “you got a problem?”
For more on Diego Luna read our exclusive 1:1 interview with the international star, here. He talks in depth about his career, his true passion, fatherhood and potentially retiring.
Casa de Mi Padre hits theaters Friday, March 16.
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