For some time now, filmmakers have been turning to U.K. and Australia to find the next big action star.  Many producers in Hollywood are wondering where have the manly movie stars gone? In the past, Hollywood’s male stars were men’s men. Think John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Steve McQueen. Same with NASA.  Astronauts were macho men like John Glen, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

Truthfully, Hollywood is great at producing male actors, but is not that adept at producing real men. It is as if that blueprint is gone forever. Or has it?
We turn to Argentinian actor Martin Santander, star of the indi movie Cafe Con Leche  (Coffee With Milk) which recently premiered in Hollywood.  In the film Santander plays a reluctant hero kind of character who is not afraid to fight.  Just like Tom Cruise, he runs, barely misses the explosion and gets the girl.  We catched up with Martin Santander at his movie premiere in Los Angeles.

CB: How was your experience as an actor creating the lead role of Franco in the film Café con Leche? What inspired you to play this role the way you did?

Playing Franco was a great challenge.  I was inspired by a few performers including Gary Oldman and Edward James Olmos.  Franco is kind of a reluctant hero who wants to do the right thing, but at the same time, he is a victim of the system.  He is strong but has a vulnerable side.  I enjoyed playing this character.

CB: The subject of Human Trafficking is addressed in the film. How do you consider Café con Leche brings attention to such an internationally relevant subject?

This is an interesting question.  Human trafficking is one of the worst problems in society today.  It is really a humanitarian crisis.  However you never see this problem in the media.  It is like a secret everybody seems to know about, but no one is talking about it.  I am very proud of our movie and the fact that we put a spotlight on this problem. 

CB: How did it feel to film on location in Mexico? What can you tell us about that experience?

Mexico is a great country.  It really is. It has perfect locations and great people. I can’t say enough of Mexico and the Mexican people.  We shot in Houston as well.  Both were great locations. 

CB: What were the highlights being part of this film? Were there any challenges for you as an actor during filming? How were these resolved?

It was great to work with this amazing cast.  Actors like Monica Sanchez Navarro, Gerardo Taracena, Nina Senicar…the whole cast was amazing.  Ray Gallardo is a visionary and a great director.  Working with him was a learning experience. 

CB: How do you consider the subject of family is addressed in Café con Leche? How does the subject of family relate to the movie’s title?

Family is a central theme in this film.  The love of a mother never dies.  This family went through so much yet their love kept them together until the end, like Café con Leche.

CB: Did you go through any special training to prepare for the role of Franco? If so, what did you have to do to prepare?

We worked very closely with our fight choreographer, especially me.  He did such a great job.  The fight scenes are quite impressive. 

CB: You had the opportunity to share the screen with some strong Latina female leads. What can you say about their performance in the film? How did their performance help you shape your execution of your own role as Franco?

I was surrounded by great actresses.  Their energy was fundamental in the end product.  They provide the perfect balance.  The female energy… nothing can come close. 

CB: Café con Leche included some action packed sequences. What can you tell us about the experience of filming those stunts?

There was blood! What can I say?  Perfect choreography but you are talking about fighting…things happen.  There were explosions as well. 

CB: What is your definition of Diversity? How do you consider Café con Leche addresses this subject in order to open the door for Latinos in the Hollywood film industry?

As a Latino actor, I think we should continue making our movies.  It is not a matter of protesting.  As filmmakers we have no time to lose.  Like Guillermo Del Toro said at The Oscars ‘Kick that door open.”  That’s what we are doing.  We have stories.  We bring them to life.  We have fun in the process.  A script calls for actors for different roles.  It can’t be a question of quotas.  It would be a matter of thinking outside the box when it comes to casting.  I am Latino so who says I can’t be the doctor, the politician….Let’s stop casting based on race within reason.  Another problem is there are no Latino showrunners on television.  That’s where the problem lies. 

CB: Franco as a character had both dramatic parts in the film’s storyline, but he also had to endure some physical and action packed scenes as well. Do you as an actor lean towards the more dramatic roles, the action packed roles, or do you allow the way the characters are written to help you make that decision?

I would like to tackle any role.  I am known as a tough guy but I would like to explore other roles.  I do have a romantic comedy in the horizon, so we will see.


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