All Articles
All Articles

Salvando al Soldado Pérez

Checking in with the star of Mexico's hit narco-comedy

by Julie Wolfson
on 27 May 2011

The New Mexican Cinema movement may have calmed to a simmer in recent years, but the country's presence on the international film scene is here to stay. At Los Angeles' recent Hola México Festival, festival-goers were treated to a secret midnight screening of "Salvando al Soldado Pérez" (Private Pérez). The film follows Julian Pérez—surrounded by hired thugs, killers, and accomplices—on his quest to find his brother in Iraq at his mother's request. Leaving the boisterous audience laughing, gasping and clapping throughout, when lead actor Miguel Rodarte joined director Beto Gomez on stage after the showing, the crowd roared in applause.

Currently one of the most popular films in Mexico, already more than two million have seen the slapstick adventure. Acting as a crime lord from Sinaloa, Rodarte struts though the film in a flashy wardrobe of unbuttoned silky shirts, massive gold necklaces and giant hats. Along with his motley crew of compadres, their epic journey both celebrates and pokes fun at various aspects of Mexican culture.


I first met Rodarte at a Kahlua-sponsored dinner in Mexico City at Casa Luis Barragan along with a small group of gallery owners, designers, musicians and actors who had gathered at the Pritzker prize-winning architect's house (now a museum) to share cocktails and a candlelit dinner prepared by one of the chefs from Pujol. In the midst of this animated group, Rodarte charmed everyone in the room with his infectious laugh, charismatic smile and hilarious stories about making movies and all-night parties. With the release of his latest film, we decided it was time to sit down with with the charming actor to find out more about the making of the film, his audacious wardrobe and the reaction of the audiences in Sinaloa.

How did you prepare to play Julian Pérez?

Julian Pérez has to be the most powerful character I've ever played. Interpreting a cartel boss is not that simple. There is not a lot of public information about their lives, but there is some. I found books and in-depth research articles. I read about the history of mafia in Mexico and leaders throughout different periods of time. I listened to a lot of "narcocorrido" music, which is folk music that tells stories about bandits, drug lords tales, passionate stories and mafia adventures. I took a look at as many pictures of mafia leaders as possible, to examine their lives.

I went on some social blogs that specialized in narco-culture and try to find as much information as possible. I discovered the universe in which Julian Perez was involved. For me it has the power of a Shakespearean play. Surrounded by betrayal, ambition and violence, they are always worried that someone is trying to take over their reign. They are never at peace. I also took a look at other mafia film icons (The Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas, etc.) to try to grasp aspects of their spirit that would fit my character, but without wanting to imitate any of them. The rest was pure imagination.

Did you save any of the wild print shirts and big hats that your character wears in the film?

What? Are you kidding? Of course I have. They are hilarious. It is really amazing what costume designer Marylin Fitoussi did. There was a time in Mexico's underground mafia world when exotic prints and the exaggerated bling were iconic. I am from Sinaloa and I grew up there seeing a lot of people dressing in that style. Of course, nothing like Julian Pérez, he would always be king. If you are not acquainted with the culture you could think is a little bit exaggerated, but it is not. We tried to portray a drug lord prince from the North of Mexico. I also have the jewels with the initials all over and the magnificent cowboy hat. The slogan for the film says, "They may loose their lives, but not their style."

salvadosoldado2.jpg salvadosoldado3.jpg
How do you feel about the film's depiction of Sinaloa?

It's amazing how the people from the state of Sinaloa have responded to the film. They went crazy over it. The cinemas were completely crowded and there was quite a furor. Families went to see it all together. This for me is an indicator that the people felt reflected in the sense of humor and the mood of the film. Sinaloa might well be the Mexican Sicily. The people there have an attitude about life where they feel that anything is possible. It is not a submissive culture. I am from Sinaloa myself and I can tell you that the movie portrays the qualities of loyalties, courage, strength, humor and achievement that characterize the people from there.

On 2 June 2011 "Salvado al Soldado Perez" will open the Hola México Festival New York at Tribeca Cinemas before hitting U.S. theaters this September 2011.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world
Loading More...