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The Story Behind ‘Gun Hill Road’
Posted on Aug 12, 2011
By Emily Wilson
I read that you wrote the role of the father for Esai Morales. Why did you want him?
I’ve been a fan of his since I was a child. I saw him in “La Bamba” when I was 8 years old, and I’ve loved Esai Morales since that time. What I was looking for specifically in that character was someone who could really have that street-hardened edge and at the same time have a sense of vulnerability. He could not just be hard. That would have made that into a stereotype people would have written off. I wanted someone who could play both the hard and the struggle, and it’s clear I made the right choice.
Also he’s one of these actors who haven’t been given his due in Hollywood. He’s an incredible performer, and there haven’t been the roles for him to play. There aren’t a lot of Latino filmmakers writing these roles and giving him a chance to sink his teeth into these kinds of characters.
What are you proudest of about the film?
Everything came together quite quickly. It’s been a very blessed journey, and when someone comes up to me after a screening with tears in their eyes thanking me for telling this story, and having this character, it’s a great feeling, and I feel like I’ve done my job as an artist.
Any parent who might have a trans child or a gay child, or a trans person, to see them appreciative and saying, “Thank you for putting this on the screen,” seeing that response, it’s a wonderful feeling that I’m able to touch people and affect them.
This is a story that needs to be told, and it’s not a story that should only be presented to those who are open-minded, but it’s a universal story that I hope opens a lot of minds and a lot of hearts to the struggles of this family.
Also, oftentimes we see films about the community made from someone outside the community. This time we get to hear from the community itself, and it’s attempting to present an authentic voice.
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