Eugenio Derbez is the indisputable king of comedy in Mexico, but the crossover star of GIRL IN PROGRESS and “¡Rob!” admits he hasn’t quite conquered the comedy in the English-language.
The Mexican transplant recently sat down with CineMovie for a candid interview about his Hollywood career and his new film with Eva Mendes GIRL IN PROGRESS. During the Spanish interview, Derbez discussed why the English language is holding back his comedic transition . “English is the most difficult thing to conquer. The acting is lost in translation,” according to Derbez.
Known for his physical comedies and dozens of characters from his shows down South, Derbez says he’s found it difficult to capture the “essence” of his Spanish persona in English. The son of the famous actress Sylvia Derbez has had success in the United States with small roles in Hollywood films such as Adam Sandler‘s Jack & Jill, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and on television starring on Rob Schneider CBS’s comedy “¡Rob!.” Luckily for him, his dramatic turn in GIRL IN PROGRESS didn’t require him to bring “the funny” to the role of his character Mission Impossible (except maybe the name only). The dramedy by La Misma Luna’s Patricia Riggen called for the Mexican native to play a more serious role in his second language.
Derbez jokes his biggest challenge on the film was getting to know and act opposite Eva Mendez, an actress he described as a strong (“fierce”), imposing figure. Due to the small budget and short production time Eugenio didn’t get the chance to break the ice with the GIRL IN PROGRESS, star before shooting, and instead had to take a crash course in creating chemistry with the Hollywood actress.
The comedian/actor tells us he rehearses his lines in English repeatedly in order to get the right tone. For the television series on CBS, Derbez works extra hard to nail the comedy for his character on “¡Rob!.” After wrapping up production on the set of “¡Rob!,” he stays behind on set to study his lines late into the night. Using a recorder, he reads his lines and plays them back with the goal of of capturing his style of comedy. It often backfires when he returns to the set a few hours later in the morning to discover the script was changed. He says that’s the worst moment of his day.
When it comes to improvising, he hasn’t mastered the technique for his American roles. According to the Mexican actor, he describes the process as troublesome (“le cuesta”) and finds it difficult to improvise a scene or line in English. Derbez added he’s not comfortable with the English language to feel free to come up with “stuff” on the spot yet. However, the challenge is overcoming those limitations.
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