Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page

FOR GREATER GLORY

A Cast Connected to the Story
When it came to casting FOR GREATER GLORY, producer Pablo Barroso and director Dean Wright set out to recruit a highly accomplished group of contemporary stars who each have a personal connection to the story.

"I wanted incredibly talented people, but I wanted more than that," says the director. "I wanted people who demonstrated that they understood the soul of the story, people who were motivated to go beyond the call of duty to tell it."

Barroso was extremely gratified by the response. "Dean and I wanted a cast who would help make the story as big and credible possible," he says. "We aimed very high, but so many actors were moved by the screenplay that they were completely into it. We also had fantastic casting directors and the most impressive thing to me was how well each actor really fit their roles."

It started with Andy Garcia, the Academy Award® nominated leading man who experienced turmoil in Cuba before coming to the United States as a boy. Garcia has been an indelible part of the movies over the last few decades with roles ranging from THE GODFATHER PART III to WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN to the blockbuster OCEANS ELEVEN series. But, the role of General Gorostieta is like no others he's taken on before.

"I think Andy really understood the General," says Wright. "He presents him as a man who is looking for his identity and suddenly finds a cause that will change him in ways he never imagined. You need someone with the pure talent of an Andy Garcia to get inside a man who is rediscovering his own faith and everything that's important to him - all while going into battle."

Wright goes on: "Andy is someone we really had to court - he doesn't take roles lightly. But once he signed on, we were off to the races. He was full of ideas and passion and we were able to develop the script more deeply with his input."

Much like Wright, Garcia was amazed to learn for the first time about the Cristero War - and excited to jump into a process of discovery. "I knew nothing about the Cristero War. Obviously, I knew about the Mexican Revolution but this was a real surprise," he says. "When they sent me the screenplay, they sent it with a large, coffee-table edition of Jean Meyer's book La Cristiada, which was full of photographs that were very intriguing. This war is something that has been kept locked in the closet."

Once Garcia began to immerse himself in the history, he became quite taken with the General's journey. "He's a fascinating character," he says. "He was brought in basically as a gun-for-hire to organize a central command and lead the Cristeros against the government. What is interesting is that he was not a religious man at all - and I thought that was an intriguing contradiction to look at. In the course of the story, he has a religious catharsis when he witnesses the devotion of the boy José."

Garcia continues: "The General initially makes a commitment to the principal of absolute freedom, which is where he feels he can hang his hat. And he also perhaps wants to escape the doldrums of running a soap factory when he is really a man of action. But in his journey he finds something he wasn't expecting: a soulful metamorphosis deep inside himself."

The General's family sent Garcia some of his letters, and though few photographs were taken of The General, he began to find his way under the character's skin. "I read his letters and the history around him and you start to lose yourself, and start finding those emotional parallels with your own life," he explains.

That process was enhanced further as production swept across the expanse of Mexico. "We went from tropical settings to the desert to mountain mining towns, so it was really quite spectacular," he comments. "As an actor when you have the kind of space to explore, you can lose yourself even more, and it's really happening. It was also a great privilege to meet so many amazing people in Mexico and to work with a Mexican crew, who were very impressive in their passion, their knowledge and their artistry. Their work was extraordinary."

Garcia was also pleased to collaborate with Dean Wright. "Dean is so passionate about this story that it was infectious," he notes. "Our working relationship was great. It was a long, difficult shoot with many challenging locations, but his momentum and enthusiasm never wavered at all."

He felt equally at home with the cast. "We had such a great ensemble, the majority of whom have a common Hispanic heritage. It was very emotional to see the work being done by these actors," he observes.

To play the General's devoted wife, the filmmakers cast Eva Longoria, the Mexican-American superstar best known for her very different Golden Globe winning role on the hit comedy-drama "Desperate Housewives."

"When I started talking to Eva, I discovered she was very interested in the Cristero War, and that's when I knew she was right for the role," says Wright. "She's someone who recently went back to school to get a doctorate in Chicano Studies, she knows a lot about history, and this is something that's really, really important to her. She brings something essential to the movie. She is the one who gives the General the rock he needs to find his own sense of belief."

Adds Andy Garcia: "Eva is fantastic. She's very generous and extremely intelligent as both an actress and a person. She's a very talented lady and I always look forward to working with her."

Belief comes more easily to one of the film's most moving characters, the stalwart Father Christopher, who believes in peace, yet is threatened with unimaginable violence. Taking the role is a true film legend: Peter O'Toole, who came to fore in David Lean's epic masterpiece LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and has received an astonishing eight Academy Award® nominations in an illustrious career.

"What can you say about Peter O'Toole?" Wright offers. "It was very inspiring to have him join our cast. He gives Father Christopher this incredibly gentle, grandfatherly quality and with his compassion for José shows how one good act can ripple through a whole country. He pulled off that challenging relationship beautifully."

José might seem like just another ordinary village teenager, a mischievous innocent, but he soon becomes the very soul of the story, in turn inspiring General Gorostieta with his tenacity, bravery and unmovable faith. Taking the role is young newcomer Mauricio Kuri, a Mexico City native who was cast after an extensive search.

"We saw kids from all over the world," explains Wright. "Many were good actors but I was a looking for a certain authenticity. Having worked with a lot of kids on NARNIA, I knew that the camera picks up the natural essence of children and so that had to be right. Finally, Mauricio walked in and when he read, we all turned to each other and said 'What just happened?' He knocked it out of the park and we knew we had our José."

"Peter was very impressed with him," adds Wright. "He told me that he reminded him of a young Kate Hepburn because of his purity of soul. And that is what the character of José brings to the movie."

Wright was especially excited to work with the rapidly rising star Oscar Isaacs in the role of the colorful rebel hero known as "El Catorce." Isaacs, who was born in Guatemala, raised in Miami and went on to study at Juilliard, emerged as a major star in 2011 with roles in the acclaimed noir thriller DRIVE and Madonna's W.E. He will next be seen in the forthcoming Coen Brothers movie and latest installment of the BOURNE franchise.

"Oscar has this wonderful rascally quality to him, alongside hi

Next Production Note Section

TOP

Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
Contact CinemaReview.com

2014 75,  All Rights Reserved.

Google

Find:  HELP!

Google