One To Watch: Mexican Movie Star Luis Gerardo Méndez Wants To Tell Stories Of Home, Sets Focus Features Vehicle ‘Half Brothers’

That led to the meeting with Cisneros, Shuman and Greenfield, who were already working on an idea involving estranged half brothers. "They said, tell us about your life and they were interested in a complex sibling relationship like they all are, and that turned into a four hour meeting, and then a week later they gave me a one page idea they had and we worked on the script two years and then had a meeting with Focus where Kiska and I discussed the importance of finding stories for us as Latinx, as Mexicans. It felt crazy to be working on a film for Focus, which made films that were such a huge influence in my life and who I became as an actor and an artist."
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"I'd grown up watching Friends, and Adam’s films, and my comedy references come from there. And I was able to breathe. That first day, when it was the first moment my character was going to speak, in front of all the actors and writers and producers…I said my first line in rehearsal, and everyone cracked up. I thought, Okay, this works. The things I’ve been doing the past 15 years in Mexico, the craft, it’s exactly the same." "I was shooting Modern Mystery with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler last summer, and that was my first big Hollywood English language film, and I was so nervous," he said.
The film's evolution and his own escalating presence in Hollywood has Méndez hoping he can become a fulcrum for telling stories that reflect the diversity of who Mexicans are.
His son is understandably embittered when he gets the call his father is dying, and he needs to fly to Chicago and go on a road trip engineered by his father, with the half brother he didn't previously know he had. It will shoot this summer in New Mexico. Méndez will star with Connor Del Rio (Unfriended and Level Up), the latter playing the troubled American half-brother of a Mexican man (Méndez), who grew up worshiping his father in Mexico until the man was forced to go to America to find work, and never returned. Kiska Higgs and Luane Gauer will be overseeing for Focus.
There is a lot of material in the movies about this other side of Mexico, and yes that is a part of Mexico and it would be stupid to deny that. This was one of the main reasons to do this film. For me, being on and off in LA and Mexico the past four years, and the more Americans I know, meet and have an opportunity now to work with, the more I realize that we are the same. We are also doctors, businessmen, writers, painters and composers." But that’s maybe 2% of who we are as a country and it has been a shame, that nobody has been interested in telling the other stories, that reflect the majority of us. Exactly the same. "We have been told so many times, we are different, we need to be divided, you hear that so much that you start to believe it in a way. "This film is a metaphor of who we are, as Mexicans, and as Americans," he said. It’s a good moment to speak about those other things. That is one of the metaphors of this story.
Méndez and other actors in Mexico have reveled in the success of directors like Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzelez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron, and wants to be a constructive role model like they are.
To me it’s important to tell the world." "We have diverse stories to tell and it's important to tell them here, in Hollywood, at this moment of inclusion. "We are incredibly proud of them because they are showing who we are, and I want to be part of that," he said. Because in Mexico, we know who we are, and how complex we are.
The only difference? "Budgets," he said. And you see why those directors do magical things when they come to Hollywood and work with bigger budgets." "We learn to do so much with so little in Mexico, we learn to be very creative and smart in how we shoot things and solve problems.
Del Rio is repped by Artists First; Greenfield, who is attached to direct the action-thriller We Are Untouchable for Chernin Entertainment, is Verve and attorney Howard Abramson; Méndez is repped by Paradigm, GoodManagement, and Stone, Genow, Smelkinson.” />
"This started four years ago, first time I came to Los Angeles for meetings with producers and directors and studios after they began seeing Club de Cuervos," Méndez told Deadline. And then they all said, do you have some ideas you want to talk about?" "All of them said they were aware of what I was doing in Mexico, that they wanted to do something with me.
Now, Focus Features has set the first English language project to be built around him. It tells a universal story about the complex connection with a brother who is based in Mexico, meant to be a metaphor of the relationship between neighboring countries America and Mexico. Half Brothers is a pic he has been developing with co-writers Eduardo Cisneros (Instructions Not Included), Jason Shuman (the upcoming Adam McKay LA Lakers pic Showtime for HBO) and director Luke Greenfield (Let's Be Cops).
Méndez wasn't used to this, as the custom for top actors in Mexico is to chase good scripts for the next job.
Méndez also plays a key role in Sony Pictures' upcoming Charlie's Angels reboot coming this fall. Méndez makes his English language debut in the Jennifer Aniston-Adam Sandler comic whodunit Murder Mystery which Netflix releases Friday, this after starring in and exec producing for four seasons in Netflix’s first-ever-Spanish-language original series, Club de Cuervos, the streaming service's first original production in Mexico.
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Méndez said he hadn't truly realized the similarities until it was time for him to speak English on camera for the first time.
Now, Hollywood is the priority, with his chance the result of the industry noticing his work primarily on Netflix.
I’m an actor.' For the past 15 years, I had been busy all the time, doing other peoples’ stories. I quickly realize that everyone in Hollywood wanted to talk about Latinos, and Mexicans and Hispanics but no one had a clear idea how to do it or where to start." "I said, 'No. Playing other people’s visions and perspective.
EXCLUSIVE: After rising to stardom in Mexico, Luis Gerardo Méndez is transitioning to Hollywood with a determination to tell stories of his home country that go beyond the stereotypical images that play out in cartel films or reflect polarizing news coverage and political rhetoric involving immigration.
He alternated nights in the same role with Diego Luna in the Mexico City stage play Privacidad, which they both produced and most recently, he is teamed with Thomas Middleditch in the Verizon Spanish-speaking international ad campaign, is the face of Pepsi in Mexico and launched the new Toyota Prius campaign there earlier this year. Méndez has starred steadily in films in Mexico ranging from the Netflix boxing drama Bayoneta, Tiempo Compartido and the 2013 Warner Brothers’ comedy Nosotros Los Nobles, whose $26 million gross made it Mexico’s second most successful film of all time. His starred in 2014 in the biographical feature Cantinflas, which became the highest grossing foreign language film in the United States that year.

‘Roswell, New Mexico’: Amber Midthunder Upped To Series Regular for Season 2 Of CW Drama Series

The series centers on Roswell native Liz Ortecho (Mason) who reluctantly returns to her tourist-trap hometown to move back in with her father after the government cuts funding on her biomedical research. When Liz arrives, she reconnects with her teenage crush Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons), who now is a Roswell police officer. Their chemistry is instantly electric, but Liz soon discovers a shocking truth: Max is an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life, along with those of his otherworldly sister, Isobel (Lily Cowles), and their friend Michael (Michael Vlamis).
She's repped by Corner Booth Entertainment, Artists & Representatives and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.” /> Midthunder also plays Kerry Loudermilk on FX's Legion.
Amber Midthunder, who recurred in the first season of the rebooted CW's Roswell, New Mexico, has been promoted to series regular for the just-announced second season.
Roswell, New Mexico hails from from Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios, in association with Amblin Television and Bender Brown Productions, with executive producers Carina Adly MacKenzie, Chris Hollier, Julie Plec, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, Lawrence Bender and Kevin Kelly Brown.
TV. Written by The Originals scribe Carina Adly MacKenzie and directed by Julie Plec, the reimagined Roswell, like the original, is based on the Roswell High book series by Melinda Metz. It hails from Amblin TV, Bender Brown Prods and Warner Bros.
Midthunder appeared in seven Season 1 episodes as Rosa Ortecho, the sister of Liz (Jeanine Mason).

‘Perpetual Grace, Ltd.’: Shakespeare Meets Film Noir In Biblical Setting Of New Mexico – TCA

Kingsley said he'd been talking to his reps about “the possibility of having a wonderful leading role in a great TV series" when "lo and behold, it fell into our laps.”
Kingsley also referenced Howard Bloom’s book, Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human in which the author analyzes each of the bard’s plays, declaring 24 of them masterpiece.
Kingsley called the landscape "biblical,” which he said, "we as actors find tremendously exhilarating."” />
As to the "careful what one wishes for" part, Kingsley called it “grindingly hard work,” in which they shoot about triple the two pages per day that the feature film world sets as its pace.
Film noir, he described, is " about people who are smart enough to hatch a plan, but not smart enough to pull it off,” naming Double Indemnity among the  genre's more notable achievements.
“However, the quality of the writing sustains us, and the dignity…of our director sustains us," He said.
Perpetual Grace, LTD is set in New Mexico, Conrad said when asked, because contemporary New Mexico “feels an awful lot like the Wild West, juxtaposing “rampant drug use” with a “supremely beautiful" natural surrounding.
“One must be careful what one wishes for,” Ben Kingsley cautioned TCA during his Q&A about Epix's 10-episode series Perpetual Grace, LTD.
Paradoxically, they’re probably the happiest couple in the play,” Kingsley added, being so "in tune with each other." This reminded him of something
Conrad and Terris did not mention Shakespeare, when asked "what kind of feeling were you going for." Conrad said they are making a contribution to the genre of film noir.
"It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to explore the light and the dark, the light and shade. I could not say ‘no’,” Kingsley added.
KIngsley called Perpetual Grace, LTD a "10-hour movie." Jackie Weaver plays his wife; together they use religion to bilk hundreds of innocent people out of their life savings.
Simpson, meanwhile, said he "hadn’t read anything so beautiful in years" adding, "once I saw it, I could not look at another project.”
the "great director Peter Brooks said to me" – when working on a Shakespeare production he clarified – "an actor must always aspire to something in the character that is greater than you."
They are like the Macbeths in "Shakespeare's greatest play," KIngsley described.
The series follows a young grifter named James, played by Jimmi Simpson, as he attempts to prey upon Kingsley's Pastor Byron Brown, who turns out to be a dangerous guy.
It's written by Conrad and Patriot co-producer Bruce Terris; Conrad also directs. Perpetual Grace, LTD  (formerly Our Lady, LTD) hails from Patriot creator Steve Conrad and Epix’s sister studio MGM Television.

Jon Hendry, Former IATSE Boss In Santa Fe, Hit With Third Sex Harassment Suit

EXCLUSIVE: Former Santa Fe IATSE boss Jon Hendry has been hit with a third sexual harassment lawsuit – this one by a former assistant who accuses him of a laundry list of other allegations, including racketeering and campaign finance violations.
In her lawsuit, she says she wanted to become a member of the local and work in the New Mexico film and TV industry, but that Hendry wouldn’t allow it, allegedly telling her that “she could not become a member of Local 480 because she ‘worked for him’ and ‘knew too much’ about union business.”
Labounty, making heavy breathing sounds, and later apologizing and explaining it was his mistress’s ‘boob’ that was dialing his phone while she was on his lap.” She also claims that he “objectified” her “by taking photographs of her and sending them to other union bosses while bragging about how ‘hot’ his ‘blonde assistant’ was,” and that he made “inappropriate late-night calls to Ms.
The suit says that he also told her that “she did not have the skills to do a union job, that people trained for years to do what they did, and that she was ‘insulting members’ by suggesting she could be in the union, while on other occasions Hendry would meet a pretty young girl on an airplane and invite her to join the union as a make-up artist, when she had no training or experience.”
In the latest lawsuit, Michelle Labounty, who worked as Hendry’s assistant at the local from 2011-12, claims that he “continually sexually harassed and intimidated” her “with inappropriate conditions to maintain employment.” The suit claims that Hendry’s “unprofessional conduct” included “pressuring Ms. Labounty to share a hotel room with him on a business trip, saying it was to save union money, and criticizing her as not being ‘cool’ or ‘rock-n-roll’ for not complying.”
“The work and labor organization environment became hostile and aggressive, and Ms. Lauve was eventually terminated from IATSE Local 480, as well as undermined on a Local 480 craft services assignment, on or about March 21, 2014, as a result of Ms. Lauve's suit claims he fired her after she refused to have sex with him anymore. Lauve having ceased to consent to and begun to oppose Hendry’s quid pro quo.”” />
Madeleine Lauve, a former employee of the local, alleged that from 2013-14, Hendry subjected her to “discriminatory conditions, including an explicit quid pro quo for sex, to maintain and to improve her employment and to qualify for and be admitted as a labor organization member of IATSE.” Six days after that suit was filed – and the same day he was removed as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor AFL-CIO – a second sexual harassment suit was filed against him.
The suit also claims that Hendry, who had ties to many Democratic politicians in the state, also engaged in a scheme to violate campaign finance laws by “pressuring Ms. Labounty to withdraw money from her personal bank account to pay – though he then reimbursed her – for a radio ad he provided her against a public office candidate, telling her there could be no paper trail to him and under no circumstances could she divulge he had her pay for the ad.”
Labounty claims that her working conditions at the local were so “intolerable” that she was “compelled to resign” on July 19, 2012 – after which Hendry “retaliated against her and kept intimidating her,” including “blackballing” from working in the industry “in the same way she had overheard him blackball other women in the industry.”
The suit, which also names IATSE and Local 480 as defendants for failing to stop Hendry's alleged misconduct, claims that Hendry’s actions created a hostile work environment. This allegedly included “patting her on the buttocks”; calling her to his house and “coming out to greet her in boxer shorts”; “conducting business calls with potential employers of female IATSE members and referring to these women as ‘sluts’ to their prospective employers”; telling her that “most women who worked on film sets were ‘former strippers,” and “bragging in her presence about how he ruins women and men in the business if he decides they are ‘out.’”
That same month he was ousted as president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Hendry, once the most powerful labor leader in New Mexico, was ousted in March as IATSE Local 480’s longtime business agent after two former staffers accused him of sexually harassing them.
Labounty for rejecting his advances by refusing to pay her overtime despite requiring her to work as much as 90 hours per week.” Labounty also accused Hendry of pressuring her “to take a hot spa bath with him during an overnight trip” to Truth or Consequences, NM, and then “retaliating against Ms.
“He has told me to talk to no one,” he said. His attorney did not return calls for comment. Contacted by Deadline, Hendry said he was “surprised” by the allegations and referred calls to his attorney.
At least one of us will feel much better." Christa Valdez, the local’s former public relations rep, sued Hendry in March, claiming that he “continually harassed and intimidated” her with “sexual propositions and inappropriate conditions to maintain employment,” including sending her a text in 2016 that said: "Could you send me a pic of your naked, sweaty, skinny body? Two other women have made similar allegations against the former union boss.
The complaint alleges that he also pressured her to “share a bed with him” when they attended the South by Southwest festival in Austin, telling her "nothing would happen" and that he "just wanted to be comfortable.” She claims he also pressured her to wear a “revealing ‘groupie’ outfit he bought for her” on that trip.