Eugenio Derbez, well known to Mexican sitcom viewers, is making a splash in the U.S. with a remake of the 1987 romantic comedy Overboard.
The original starred Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. This version follows the familiar story line, but with a twist: Two people from very different worlds come together when billionaire Leonardo Montenegro (Derbez) suffers a head injury and gets amnesia. He runs into disgruntled former employee, Kate, who is a working-class mother (Anna Faris). She then puts him to work doing household duties and being the primary provider.
The movie opens May 3 in wide release.
During a recent Dallas visit, Derbez, 56, talked about the pressure of updating a beloved classic and developing his career in the U.S. after being a star in Mexico.
(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Why this movie? What did you like so much about it?
I grew up watching this movie and really loved it. Actually, Goldie Hawn was my movie star crush. I was really in love with her and I was watching all her movies. I think Overboard was my favorite one, and it's a classic.
And when I came to the U.S. and had a meeting with the executives of MGM, they offered me to do the remake of Overboard. And I was like, “Oh, my God! I grew up watching that film.” I would be honored.
I felt also a lot of responsibility because of that: It's a gem. And I know for a lot of people it's a cult movie and everyone loves this movie, so it's delicate. So I needed to be conscious to not change that much and make more a re-imagining of the movie than a remake. It’s an homage to the original one.
There are interesting gender reversals in this movie that break stereotypes. Why was that important?
The natural thing is for the Latino to play the carpet-cleaning guy and Anna play the billionaire. So we switch roles to break stereotypes. It was important for the Latino community because I’ve been trying to change the image of Latinos in this country. Every time I received an offer for a movie in Hollywood, it was for playing a narco or criminal or a gang member -- or a gardener. So I was tired of the same thing.
And I said now I have the possibility to make a change and I want to dignify more Latinos by playing this type of role. Flipping the roles avoids a direct comparison with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. And also nowadays it feels better, because imagine now having a guy kidnap a woman and making her work?! It would be kind of rude, so it feels more authentic now. More fresh.
For Latinos who grew up watching you on shows like X-H Derbez and La Familia Peluche, you are a mega star in Mexico. You then went on to produce successful movies like Bajo La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) and Instructions Not Included. And you’ve mentioned previously that it’s still hard for you to find jobs in Hollywood. How is that even possible?
I don't get it. But I'm going to give you some numbers. Twenty-five percent of tickets that are sold in Hollywood in the U.S., the buyers are Latinos. But only 3 percent of the roles that are played in Hollywood are portrayed by Latinos. Only 3 percent. So, it's amazing. And that's why I'm doing my own films. I’m producing my own films because that's the only way to have work in Hollywood: to produce and star in your own movies.
Your mother [Silvia Derbez] was a famous actress in Mexico. Now that you’ve made the Derbez name international, what do you think she would say to you today?
I learned everything from her. She was my teacher, she was my mentor, my best supporter. After each show, whether it was La Familia Peluche or X-H Derbez, she would always be calling me after and telling me: I like this or I don't like that. Don't do this. Don't do that. She was always advising me. She was my best friend. She taught me how to love this career and I know that she would be really proud of what I'm doing right now.