12 Non-Latino Celebs Who Have Played Latino Characters!

A new picture of Ariel Winter of Modern Family shows the 14-year-old actress reprising her parody role of Dora in Dora the Explorer for CollegeHumor.com. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, Italian actress Caterina Murino has been tapped to star in the English-language film In Search of Ingrid, a biopic about former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. (We have to admit we're a little bummed that a Latina wasn't cast to portray the former Colombian senator and anti-corruption activist.) Still, these aren't the only instances of a non-Latino celebrity portraying Latinos on the big screen. Here are 12 non-Latino actors who have played nuestra gente.

1. Ariel Winter

Ariel Winter in Dora the Explorer: The Search for the Infinity Orb (College Humor)

While the live-action version of the Nickelodeon show Dora the Explorer is just a spoof, we couldn't help but notice that the young actress chosen for the animated Latina character was none other than Ariel Winter. Ariel also voices the animated character Sofia The First, which had it's own (controversial) Latina legacy. 


2. Non-Latinos: Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke in Alive (1993)
Based on the true story of an Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes Mountains on October 13, 1972, Alive stars Ethan Hawke in the role of Fernando “Nando” Parrado—one of the sixteen Uruguayan survivors of the plane crash. Hawke isn’t the only non-Latino (playing a Latino) in the film: Josh Hamilton and Illeana Douglas also play Uruguayans.


3. Non-Latinos: Al Pacino

Al Pacino in Scarface (1983)
As Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who creates a drug empire, Al Pacino proved that you don’t have to be Latin to successfully play a drug dealing gangster.


4. Non-Latinos: Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961)
Born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, there’s nothing Latin about legendary actress, Natalie Wood—save for the fact that the Russian actress was cast as Maria—a Puertorriquena—in the classic film, West Side Story (1961).


5. Non-Latinos: Hank Azaria

Hank Azaria in The Birdcage (1996)
The son of Sephardic Jewish parents from Greece, Hank Azaria has played a Latino twice (also in America’s Sweethearts, 2001). But he stole our hearts as gay Guatemalan housekeeper Agador Spartacus in The Birdcage—for which he received a Screen Actor’s Guild nomination. Laugh-out loud hilarious!


6. Non-Latinos: Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp in Before Night Falls (2000)
In this biopic about Cuban poet, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), Depp plays a no-nonsense Cuban prison interrogator named Lieutenant Victor—who happens to spend his free time as a transvestite named “Bon Bon.”


7. Non-Latinos: Madonna

Madonna in Evita (1996)
The Material Girl won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her turn as Eva Perón, former First Lady of Argentina. Madonna nailed the role—but gets universally panned when she plays Anglo characters. Go figure.


8. Non-Latinos: Robert Downey, Jr.

Robert Downey Jr., in The Soloist (2009)
Despite the fact that he has Irish, German, Scottish and Russian roots—Hollywood thought Oscar-nominated actor, Robert Downey Jr., was the best choice to portray real-life journalist Steve Lopez in this tearjerker about a writer who befriends a homeless, mentally ill musician (Jamie Foxx).


9. Non-Latinos: Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei in The Perez Family
In this comedy directed by Mira Nair about a group of Cuban refugees who come to America, Italian actress Marisa Tomei plays Dorita Evita Perez, a former Cuban prostitute. Tomei forms an unlikely family unit with a political prisoner (Spaniard Alfred Molina) and a former sugarcane cutter (Anjelica Huston).


10. Non-Latinos: Jennifer Esposito

Jennifer Esposito in Crash (2004)
In this Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Jennifer plays Ria, a Latina detective and Graham’s (Don Cheadle) girlfriend. A lot of people think Esposito is Latina, but she’s actually Italian.


11. Non-Latinos: Cliff Curtis

Cliff Curtis in Blow (1993)
In Blow, a film about the American cocaine market in the ‘70s, Cliff Curtis plays Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. Curtis isn’t Latin—he’s from New Zealand and is Māori—but we couldn’t care less: He is superb in the role!

12. Non-Latinos: Vanessa Ferlito

Vanessa Ferlito in Nothing Like the Holidays (2008)
Vanessa has co-starred opposite John Leguizamo twice now, most recently in the family film, Nothing Like the Holidays—and both times she played a Latina! We're not sure what about this Italian actress makes casting director's think, "Latina!" Maybe it's her prominent NYC swagger?

13. Non-Latinos: Related Links