That’s why they didn’t teach any of this in school, but I think it’s the opposite. We need to bring the wound out, heal it, go back to history to study and learn from these decisions that were made at the time, so we don’t commit the same mistakes in the present, so we preserve ourselves from all these horrible consequences. I think people need to stand up when the government is trying to take religious freedom away from the people, and hopefully we don’t make the same mistakes but sometimes people don’t learn you know. We commit the same mistakes over and over expecting the same results but its nuts. It happened in Spain a few years later, it happened in Cuba, and in many other countries. It will happen here now in the States and many parts of the world where the government starts taking the right of religious freedom away.
The character you play is a pacifist, is that something that you identify with?
Yes and no… no because my temper is very explosive. I’m trying to change the things I don’t like about myself and one of them is that. When I see somebody doing an injustice I have this tendency to try and do something right away, I’m trying to change more to Anacleto Gonzalez Flores. He was always trying to defend his faith, his belief, and his religious freedom with peaceful means like wisdom, intelligence, not with violence. I’m learning from him, I feel like I receive more from him than what I gave to this character. So I think this Mexican hero is going to change the lives of so many people, has changed the lives of so many people, including my own life. As an actor I am trying to see if I can do other roles, other characters, where I can learn from them. So by the time I finish I feel like I am a better person. I feel like I am more human by giving myself to portray them and in that process I end up learning so much about their virtues and about their lives and I can put that into practice into my own life.
[Flores] was a true peace maker and not only a person who was just talking. He did it. He sacrificed everything for something that was bigger than himself and he became a martyr. That’s the ultimate form of love for something bigger than yourself, and in this case it was for Christ, his faith, and to protect religious freedom. When I saw the film and saw the scene where he gets killed, he challenged me, and I asked myself “Am I willing to die for my faith?” “Am I willing to die for something bigger than myself?” “Am I willing to do the right thing?” “Am I willing to die to protect religious freedom?” Sometimes fear comes into me and the answer is no, but then I realize that it is humanly impossible to do what they did. They needed to receive a special blessing from God, where they get that strength to really die for their belief. I hope that if I am one day in a situation like this I can say “yes” and I can die for my faith.
You said that you’d like to seek out more roles like this in the future. Are there roles from your past that have influenced you in the same way?
Yeah, whether you like it or not, whatever you pick to do not only is going to affect you, it’s going to affect the audience for good, or for bad. You can’t just ignore the fact that not only are you going to be doing research for your character, you’re going to be playing that character for awhile, you’re going to see the movie over and over and over, you’re going to promote the film, and then you’re going to have to do 500 hundred interviews to promote the film. So of course it’s going to affect you because you’re talking about your character, talking about the story, talking about the message, so somehow it becomes part of your life. The worst part, especially when you do something that is not designed to “turn the light on” but the opposite, [is that] it stays forever. It’s something that will live forever, you will die and it becomes immortal. So when it’s good “thanks be to God,” but how about when it’s bad? There’s nothing you can do to block it out. That’s why it’s so important to assume the responsibility that someone like you, as a journalist, or me as an actor or film maker, or a singer or whoever is involved with the media, that we address ourselves every day by saying “What am I doing?” “How are people going to read this?” “I’m giving them food, what kind of food am I giving them?” “Am I building or am I destroying?” “Am I saying the truth or am I saying the lie?” “Am I part of the darkness or part of the light?” That’s something that only you can really be honest about, and when I start asking those questions to myself it broke my heart because life’s too short, you live once and boom that’s it.
I realized how much time I’ve wasted in my life. Then I just wanted to repair any damage I caused by what I said in interviews about what I thought a real man should be, because that’s what I believed at the time. I was seduced by a certain mentality, and I grew up in a place where I thought that the real man is the one that has thousands of women and the more women, the more masculine. In many other areas I thought this is what I needed to do in order to be happy and to be successful. Then I realized that I was wrong, the real man is the one who respects women, who sees their dignity, who protects women, and someone that treats women the same way he would like his mother to be treated. I started realizing how many people heard me saying these things and maybe they thought because I was a celebrity I was saying the truth. Somehow you become like a teacher, even if you don’t want to, even if you don’t want to assume the responsibilities of being a role model, if you are on TV or on film, if they push a microphone in front of you, you become a role model whether you like it or not. Some people will follow you and a real leader, I think, is someone who leads people to the truth.