My Life in Pictures: Which Latino Stars Deserve Biopics?

A great new documentary about Puerto Rican-Haitian artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, entitled Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child) is in theaters now. The famed painter has also been the subject of a movie (Basquiat) and another doc (Samo: The Art and Influence of Jean-Michel Basquiat)—making the painter the most loved Latino in Hollywood. Though in-the-works biopics of Cantinflas, Jerry Garcia and Santana give us hope that Tinseltown is finally finding it worthwhile to tell our real-life stories, there are a ton of other Latino luminaries who deserve some big screen attention.
Here are our picks for legendary Latinos who we think deserve biopics. Add your own to the comments below.


1. Biopics: Lupe Velez

Lupe Velez
Often overlooked in favor of fellow Mexican crossover actress Dolores Del Rio, Lupe was actually more successful and a better story: She was one of the highest-paid actresses of the 40s, starred her own film franchise and had a reputation for throwing wild parties, collecting gorgeous jewelry and talking freely about her numerous love affairs.

Who should play her: Eva Longoria is a dead ringer for Velez

2. Biopics: Celia Cruz & La Lupe

La Lupe & Celia Cruz
You want drama? How about a contrast between theses two Cuban divas? Both emigrated to the U.S., both became huge singing stars in the 70s. But while Cruz latched on to salsa, which was then exploding as a genre, and went on to become a beloved worldwide star, La Lupe stayed behind musically and then had numerous personal tragedies (including a failed marriage, financial fleecing by associates, a house fire, homelessness). Thousands came to Cruz’s funeral and La Lupe found her own kind of redemption as a preacher.

Who should play them: Gina Torres as Celia Cruz, as Zoe Saldana as La Lupe

3. Biopics: Freddie Prinze

Freddie Prinze
Before he rose to fame in the groundbreaking sitcom Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze was a ballet dancer (surprise!), small-time drug dealer and of course, a trailblazing stand-up comedian who often played on his Hungarian/Jewish and Puerto Rican identity for laughs. Drugs and depression started early, and his 1977 death—by self-inflicted gunshot to the head—was all the more tragic for apparently being accidental: he often played with guns and faked suicide.

Who should play him? His son, Freddie Prinze Jr. of course.

4. Biopics: Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno
The Puerto Rican legend has had a life, honey. From facing down blatant discrimination in Hollywood to attempting suicide when Marlon Brando left her to winning an Oscar, Moreno’s early years are a testament to perseverance and triumph—and best of all, they have a happy ending.

Who should play her? Victoria Justice may just be perky enough

5. Biopics: Ramon Novarro

Ramon Novarro
The Mexican actor played enough Latin lovers in silent films to make him heartthrob Rudolph Valentino’s bonafide rival, but in real life, Novarro was gay. At a time when being out was out of the question (not much different in Hollywood nowadays, come to think of it), Novarro struggles over his private and public life and his religious views led him to alcoholism and eventually, death. Had he been able to be himself openly, he may never have been tortured and killed by two male escorts who arrived in his home convinced he had a lot of money at home, but who made off with just $20.

Who should play him? Diego Luna

6. Biopics: Related Slides