EXCLUSIVE: Michael Peña Discusses 'Cesar Chavez', Latino History, Immigration, and more

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Peña Discusses 'Cesar Chavez', Latino History, Immigration, and more
Getty Images

Certainly most Latinos are familiar with the name Cesar Chavez, but how many people truly know what the civil rights activist accomplished? 

A new movie, directed by Diego Luna, seeks to educate (and entertain!) audiences, by telling the miraculous story of the co-founder of the United Farm Workers union. Michael Peña stars as Cesar Chavez alongside Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera in the story of an American hero and Latino legacy. 

We chatted with Michael Peña about the challenges of playing such a beloved and well-respected character. Read the full interview below, and be sure to catch Cesar Chavez out in theaters Friday, March 27! 

Tell us about your project. How did it come your way?

Well, I just got an e-mail from Diego Luna that he wanted to have a meeting. This is when I was doing End of Watch. He wanted to have a meeting about this movie Chavez. And I was like, "Get outta here!" I think a year before that somebody asked me what my dream role would be, and I said, "You know, I think I'd love to play Cesar Chavez."

Once you met Diego Luna, were you pretty much convinced that you were going to take the role? 

I mean, I had to read the script to see if it was a good story. Sometimes, you just don't want to get involved with anything that isn't a good story, so that's just what I wanted to do. And the script wasn't ready for a couple of months, and I was like, "Well, man I gotta read it!"  I read Keir Pearson's script -- and he was nominated [for an Academy Award] for Hotel Rwanda -- and it was really good. Then, Tim Sexton, who did Children of Men, did a rewrite and I thought, "Wow, this is really cool." So, at that point, I was really stoked. Next, I saw Diego's movies, and I was like, "Wow, I didn't know he was such a good director." So, that's when I was knew, "Okay, I really want to do this movie."

Read more on page 2 >>>