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Jazz Vilá: “Making your way into the American industry takes great preparation”

An Irish hit man tries to depart behind his past as a hired thug for the IRA and on the service of a Cuban-American mobster, a task that becomes complicated for him and that he’ll seek to resolve when he incorporates a little bit of “Sugar” into his life, and we are usually not talking exactly of a small lump of sugar.

Broadly speaking, that is the plot of the film The Mick and the Trick, starring the veteran American actor Peter Greene and the charismatic Cuban actor  Jazz Vilá, who’s making his debut in an English-language film, a new challenge within the profession of the also renowned playwright.

“A sort of recent Bonnie and Clyde.” That is how Vilá has cataloged this motion comedy, premiered on August 18 in New York, where once more the Cuban embodies an LGTBIQ+ character, just as he did with La China in Juan de los Muertos or Betty in Hotel Coppelia, this role the latter for which he competed within the category of Best Leading Actor on the La Silla Awards within the Dominican Republic.

On this regard, Jazz thanks ADOCINE, the Dominican Association of Film Industry Professionals, for the nomination within the eighth edition of those awards. “For me, it’s a compliment because one doesn’t work for the awards but obviously the awards and nominations are an incentive, a stimulus, which is similar because the one an actor receives when he’s within the theater and is applauded,” he comments.

“As well as,” he highlights, “I need to congratulate the remaining of the film’s forged, since it is some of the vital film awards within the Dominican Republic. It’s an honor to be nominated for Best Leading Actor for a personality that makes the LGTBIQ+ community visible in such an epic story.”

This and other previous work, either as an actor or director, influenced his current foray as Sugar in, The Mick…, directed by young filmmaker  Tom DeNucci (Vault). On this film, Jazz assumes his most universal character, in line with the artist himself.

“Sugar is the least Cuban character I actually have played, he might be Dominican, Colombian or Puerto Rican. Ultimately, he’s a couple of one who has needed to learn to survive within the underworld of New York within the Nineteen Nineties,” he says. “Perhaps probably the most Cuban thing that Sugar exudes is that may to hunt solutions and survive in an increasingly hostile environment. That defines what he says and what he does, and that’s why he finally ends up with the least expected ally.”

How did the casting process go?

Perhaps it was a bit unusual when put next to what it normally is for a Cuban film. I used to be in Cuba throughout the lockdown and I received a call from one in all the producers, from Robert Morgalo, from New York, telling me that he had seen my work and that he had a script and that he was all in favour of proposing a personality to me.

I told him “okay,” but pondering that it was a joke. But then he sent me the script, I read it and after two hours I told him that I loved it, since the character was also superb. I didn’t even know on the time that I used to be going to share the lead with Peter Greene. It was very exciting. Then he told me to decide on two scenes: “record them and send them in every week.” I prepared and sent some of the dramatic scenes in history and one other slightly more hilarious.

They explained to me that in every week they’d answer me and that it was a project that might be done for the summer (we met in April). The surprise was after they called me two hours later and told me: “the character is yours.” I didn’t even must wait every week and I used to be so excited I almost didn’t consider it until we were shooting.

How complex was the work on a production entirely in English?

For me probably the most difficult a part of working in English was not learning the scenes in English, but assuming that you simply are shooting with a crew in one other language. For instance, you’ve gotten a director who doesn’t speak any Spanish and who’s supplying you with directions; or you’ve gotten someone from Wardrobe or Sound and you have to know tips on how to explain that you simply don’t feel comfortable with the garments or that something technical must be adjusted.

We are usually not talking about a personality in a single or two scenes, but a couple of leading character, in a movie shot under the health protocols that needed to be followed within the midst of a pandemic. Every three days you needed to take a COVID test and every thing was quite fast, with quite tight shooting schedules. Sometimes it was 12 hours straight, precisely because if someone tested positive, production needed to be stopped and every thing was tried to be done as quickly as possible.

As well as, the film was shot in late November in town of Reading, Pennsylvania, sometimes at dawn, with three or 4 degrees of temperature and never with warm clothes. In such circumstances I feel that probably the most complex thing is just not to act, but to pay attention to every thing that surrounds you, of the production team, and take a look at to not miss anything in order that the story reaches the guts of the viewer beyond the language.

Regarding the language, there may be the recent controversy with the movie Blonde, for which Ana de Armas has received criticism for her accent in her interpretation…

I feel the opinions are totally premature. Any criticism derived from a trailer has the plain desire to get some form of publicity advantage. Ana is a wonderful actress; We’ve got been friends for a few years and I understand how much dedication and energy there may be behind each one in all her projects. I understand how much study she put into each line, so it can be a performance that will probably be tattooed on viewers’ retinas.

Marilyn is a timeless icon and Ana will probably be remembered, beyond any accent, because the Cuban who immortalized probably the most legendary blonde in cinema. All my support and trust are along with her. I do know that Blonde will probably be a hit that may mark her profession and can bring her a whole lot of joy.

How could this stigma against Latino actors in U.S. cinema be eliminated?

I feel that breaking into the American industry takes a whole lot of preparation. You can’t reach the highest for those who are usually not prepared to climb the mountain first. On this sense, language is crucial to act and to speak. Let’s not forget that before you stand in front of a camera you’ve gotten to earn the scene.

I don’t think there may be a stigma. Ultimately, there are Latino actors playing characters for a few years in america, from Rita Moreno, Eugenio Derbez, Diego Luna. I think that American stories will give increasingly more space to Latino characters, but above all in additional inclusive, more universal stories.

Yoel Rodriguez Tejeda

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