Pantelion Films opens How to Be a Latin Lover nationwide on April 28th, 2017.
NYC MOVIE GURU: At what point in your life did you know that comedy was meant for you?
Eugenio Derbez: It was kind of late in my life because I didn't realize I was funny. My mom was a soap opera queen in Mexico, so I wanted to be a dramatic actor just like her. For the first part of my career, I was focused on being a telenovela actor. All of a sudden, when I was 27, I was invited to a comedy show and then I realized that I was funny. They invited me again 2 weeks later and then they proposed to me to be part of the show. I struggled a lot before I realized that comedy was my thing.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would it be fair to say that comedy, like the kind found in How to Be a Latin Lover, is rooted in tragedy?
ED: Absolutely. Every time people ask me how I create humor, I tell them that I always think about sad things or things that bother me. Comedy is always rooted in tragedy---always. Comedy is tragedy plus time. For example, if you fall down and rip your pants and people start laughing at you, for you it's probably a nightmare, a tragedy and embarassing. A week later, you would tell others what happened to you at the office and everyone would laugh at you. A month later, everyone laughs about it and you would start enjoying it. That's comedy.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Is comedic timing something that people are born with or can it be learned?
ED: I think that that specific thing is something that you need to be born with. It's something that's very personal. You can try to learn it, timing is something that you feel. When I'm doing a live show or play, when you have an immediate response from the audience, you can sense when to keep the pause and when to wait for the punchline. It's so difficult to explain it. It's not something that you learn. You have to feel to know when to say something funny and which rhthym and delivery. It's so important when doing comedy. That's why comedians are so unique: everyone has their own style and their own timing.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would Maximo have found happiness earlier in his life if his father had not died when he was young or if he were to have ungone psychotherapy?
ED: I don't think so because, at the beginning of the movie, Maximo's first problem is that at 45-years-old, he's a complete disaster. He's lost and immature. Sara, his sister, has the same trauma, and Maximo is probably thinking "Because my father died and worked a lot, I don't want to work a day in my life." I think it's just an excuse because Sara went through the same and she's a hardworking, successful woman, but he's not that way. It's just an excuse for Maximo to live an easy life, but in the end it didn't pay off. In the end, therapy wouldn't have changed anything. The most important thing, more than money, is family.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Maximo is very goofy and childish, but is there anything wrong with embracing your inner child and being goofy instead of a "grown up"?
ED: You're completely right and let me tell you why. I'm still a kid. Since I was young, I was being criticized by friends at school because I was very immature. You never have to lose your inner kid. The child that we all have inside of ourselves, you have to keep it inside you during your entire life. That's the way that you enjoy life the most. I always tell my kids, "Be playful." When you see that it's raining and you say, "I don't want to get out because I'm going to get wet.", that's when you start growing up. You should be playful. It doesn't matter if it's raining: just go out and get wet. That's the way to keep you youthful and happy. The minute you start growing up, you start worrying about everything and that's not good for your health or for your anything. So, growing up is painful and hard. The best way to not be like that is to always be childesh. It's not about being immature; it's about finding the balance between being mature, but still a child.