Comedy may be subjective, but for actor Eugenio Derbez (KODA), it must also be meaningful in order for it to have an impact on an audience.
Derbez recalls once going to the movies with some friends who ended up laughing out loud the whole movie. When the film was over and they were leaving the cinema, someone asked his friends if they liked the film.
“They said, ‘Eh, it was good,'” said Derbez, 60, in a recent interview with Remezcla. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about?! You laughed!’ That’s when I realized that comedy is empty if it doesn’t have a message or emotion or depth. You walk out of the theater and forget it.”
These days, Derbez would like audiences to remember the films he’s in better. So he took the approach of starring in projects that he hopes will have a lasting impact. It’s something he was able to capture in his last film, the 2021 Oscar-winning crowd-pleaser KODAand something he hopes to emulate in the future, including in his latest film The valet.
In The valet, Derbez stars as Antonio Flores, a Beverly Hills parking lot attendant who gets caught up in a scheme when a famous Hollywood actress named Olivia Allan (Samara Weaving) and her PR team recruit him to pretend he and that are him stars together. Without his help, Olivia’s reputation could be ruined when the public finds out she’s having an affair with a married politician (Max Greenfield).
As KODA, The valet allowed Derbez to play a character who is funny, heartfelt and genuine. Derbez said making sure there was an emotional aspect to Antonio was his top priority. He also wanted to make a film that would acknowledge working-class immigrants who are usually overlooked by society.
“We wanted to make a touching film — a film that celebrates all of the people who work in America, like janitors, valet, waiters, cooks, everyone in this country,” Derbez said. “It’s a love letter to all of you. It’s also one of the funniest comedies I’ve done in my career.”
Derbez does not The valet but unforgettable on its own. His supporting cast, notably the late Mexican actress Carmen Salinas (under the same moon), who plays Antonio’s smitten mother Cecilia, brings out the best in Derbez during their scenes together. Salinas died in December 2021 at the age of 82. The valet was her last film.
“I feel blessed to be a part of this film, which happens to be the last film Carmen Salinas did in her life,” Derbez said. “It’s a shame she couldn’t see the finished film. We’ve built a great relationship. I definitely think it’s one of their best performances.”
Now Derbez is looking forward to making more films that will give him the opportunity to show what he can do as a dramatic actor. “Thanks to KODA…my next [movie] will be true drama – not comedy at all,” he said. “Actually, I’m a bit scared because it’s a big leap in my career. But I’m also very excited.”
the valet, with Eugenio Derbez, Premiered on Hulu on May 20, 2022.