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Michael Peña To Play Cesar E. Chavez In Diego Luna-Directed Pic Also Starring Rosario Dawson & America Ferrera

by Joe Cunningham
March 7, 2012 8:58 AM
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After coming off a very busy 2011 in which he played four notable supporting roles in "Battle: Los Angeles," "The Lincoln Lawyer," "30 Minutes or Less," and "Tower Heist," Michael Peña is now set to take centre stage and play the lead in Diego Luna's "Chavez."

Described by Variety as his dream role, Peña will play 1960s and '70s labor activist Cesar E. Chavez, the man who organized the largest non-violent protest in U.S. history to accomplish his goal of obtaining basic human rights for over 50,000 farm workers in California. Luna will direct the picture, which will be co-produced through Canana Films and Mr. Mudd, and so will boast Gael Garcia Bernal and John Malkovich on its long list of producers. Keir Pearson, no stranger to real-life drama as the scribe behind "Hotel Rwanda," has penned the script.

Ugly Betty herself, America Ferrera, will co-star alongside Peña as his wife, Helen Chavez, and Rosario Dawson will also star as Chavez's right-hand aide, Dolores Huerta. It's a solid cast and -- although the story is largely alien to this UK-based writer -- it sounds like there's an intriguing and powerful tale to be told. We like Peña, so it's great to see him bumped up into a leading role, and we're optimistic about the involvement of two production houses whose most recent projects were the interesting "Miss Bala" and the excellent "Young Adult." The film will begin shooting in Mexico next month.

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  • JeanPierre | January 15, 2013 6:28 PMReply

    It is a shame they cast Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta. I may have taking the movie seriously if they could have found a Mexican American girl or Chicana to play the part. I am really disappointed and will spend my money else where. I can't take this movie seriously. This is like getting a Haitian woman to play a French woman.

  • oda | May 24, 2012 6:21 PMReply

    Stop being racist about Rosario Dawson playing Dolores Huerta. It is against the LAW to not give her the part and discriminate based on Race, Creed or Color. You haven't seen any of the footage and don't even know if she did a poor job or and excellent job acting in this part. You are basing your opinion that she shouldn't get the part on her Race. That's against the Law.


  • Bob | May 20, 2012 11:21 AMReply

    I am a farm foreman on this important film and am very impressed with Diego Luna's calm and instinctive talent for helping actors get the role done in the manner in which he sees the story needing to be told. The 3 main actors are professional and all want to get it right no matter ethnicity. Lets just wait until the movie releases and then criticize who did what well or poorly. Fair enough?

  • Roberto | May 20, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    I keep seeing comments about Rosario Dawson being the wrong person for this role. The same was said of a complete unknown many years ago. Vivian Leah....a modest, little known film called ......"GONE WITH THE WIND". Give the girl a chance. Luna is an awesome director. He will get from her what he wants the part to be. Get over your Latino selves.

  • Anna | April 19, 2012 2:11 PMReply

    Rosario Dawson is the WRONG actress to play Dolores Huerta. Are they kidding? I guess this movie is supposed to be a comedy.

  • Mary U Loez | March 12, 2012 12:59 AMReply

    I hope the movie is better than the comments are. I' m a huelgista and boycotter. Cesar Chavez was not timid he met with grape growers face to face and Delores is an extraordinary woman. Cesar and she founded the union, worked together to help farmworkers get respect and so much more, human rights for all. They got so many people to believe and give their time for human dignity and justice.

  • AnaMascarenas Salazar | March 11, 2012 4:07 PMReply

    And where are the real Chicano actors in this movie! This is an insult to Cesar and Dolores and our Chicano brothers and sisters!

  • Ana Mascarenas Salazar | March 11, 2012 4:03 PMReply

    Why film in Mexico? Cheaper?

  • M. Llamas | March 11, 2012 9:36 AMReply

    I feel certain the Chavez family will feel honored that a film is in the making of this great man. As for me, I was so excited when I read this article. Cesar E. Chavez will finally be on the screen for many to see and learn what he represented. The importance of the grape boycott, non violence and the struggles for basic human rights for 'all' farm workers across the US not just California. He was a strong leader for labor and civil activist for humanity. I trust Mr Luna will depict Cesar and Helen Chavez, Ms Huerta with the utmost integrity.
    To truly honor Cesar E. Chavez, is to declare a Federal Holiday.
    Gracias, Mr. Luna
    Mandy Llamas, San Jose, CA

  • VG | March 10, 2012 11:15 PMReply

    It's really sad that Hollywood won't allow Chicanos to tell their own stories. Have any of the people on this production know what it's like to work in the fields or have your parents work in them? Luis Valdez wrote his actos right in the fields with the workers, worked inigrant camps, knew Chavez & Huerta personally. And Dorolea Huerta was in no way is aid. She first hand negotiated the deals with the growers because Chavez was top tod to deal with them while Chavez had the ability to rally up tne people. This is actually pretty disappointing to hear. And Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta??? Omg... Because there's not enough Chicanas in Hollywood to play her, right?

  • VG | March 10, 2012 11:19 PM

    Sorry I wrote this on my phone. I meant to say that Chavez was too timid to deal with growers while Huerta had the ability to negotiate with them.

  • RD | March 10, 2012 4:08 PMReply

    Interesting. Real quick, Dolores Huerta is in no way was Cesar E. Chavez's "right hand aide." Please edit this off your site. She was the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association later to become the United Farmworkers. If you are going to write a column for a informative website, please get your facts straight. * corrected for typos

  • RD | March 10, 2012 4:07 PMReply

    Interesting. Real quik, Dolores Huerta is in now way was Cesar E. Chavez's "right hand aide." Please edit this off your site. She was the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association later to become the United Farmworkers. If you are going to write a column for a informative website, please get your facts straight.

  • Raquel | March 10, 2012 3:59 PMReply

    This is great, I hope they do a great job and portray his image, his devotion of the true Farmworkers of America and what he stood up for and who!! Please keep his honor and integrety honest.

  • tellthestoryright | April 22, 2012 11:39 PM

    The cast Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta, so that already shows you that they are not serious about getting the image or the history right. This movie has so much potential, but if Dawson is Huerta, it will make the whole thing seem phony and ridiculous. They have no trouble playing fast and loose with this subject matter, but if this were a white historical figure they would make sure the casting was top notch.

  • A.D. | March 8, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta?? (pretty silly! Dolores never looked black!) lol :/ ...
    Michael Pena as Cesar Chavez? Ok, I guess..:P
    Unfortunately, it looks as if yet another film dream (remember Frida?) has been snatched away from (Master Chicano playwright) Luis Valdez & El Teatro Campesino...who would have been perfect to direct Cesar's Zoot Suit & La Bamba & see why! .:(

  • Karen | April 19, 2012 6:33 PM

    How was anything snatched away from Luis Valdes? He doesn't own the rights to this story. I have to be honest, I couldn't stand Zoot Suit.

    That being said, he would never have made the mistake of casting Rosario Dawson as Huerta. No offense to Dawson, as I'm sure she's a good actress and a nice person, but I cannot watch this movie if she plays Huerta. The casting mistake shows that they don't take this subject seriously. Too bad because I was looking forward to it!

  • jb | March 7, 2012 11:35 AMReply

    for context (albeit overly simplistic and maybe even comparing apples to oranges) chavez is kind of like the latino/a community's MLK.

  • Karen | April 19, 2012 6:46 PM

    Huerta is also an very important figure, which I don't think the producers of the movie understand. Here she is standing next to Bobby Kennedy when he spoke at the Ambassador Hotel right before he died.

    You can see her on the left beginning at 1:18:

  • martha oliver | March 10, 2012 5:28 PM

    she looks chicana to me,,,,,my bad,,,

  • martha oliver | March 10, 2012 5:26 PM

    omg black?she looks to me,,n michael pena is one of our greatest upcoming young mex am actor he will b another edward james olmos,,,

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