Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview: Can Ana de la Reguera Tame Kenny Powers?

If you don't yet know who Ana de la Reguera is, you soon will. She has starred opposite some of the hottest A-listers in Hollywood, and she just finished work on one of the most talked about movies for 2011 (Cowboys & Aliens). Currently she co-stars in the funniest show on television today (it's a scientific fact), HBO's Eastbound & Down, which airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. I got the chance to catch up with Ana a few weeks ago, and we discussed her new life in the Funny Lane.

Celebrity Extra: The other night I rented Cop Out, and I thought it was hilarious. How was it to work with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan?

Ana de la Reguera: It was great. It was a great experience just to watch them work together. They are so different. They come from different schools. They’d improvise a lot. I had a blast. I was a huge fan of Kevin Smith, so for me that was perfect for my career to be close to those people and to learn more about comedy.  I worked in New York for one month last year in the summer, and I had the best time.

CE: What did you like most about working on that movie with them?

Ana: I like the freedom that Kevin gave me. The character was pretty much the girl who was really scared, and they save her and are taking care of her. I just thought it would be more interesting if more than being scared, she was mad and pissed about what was going on in her life, about what was happening to her. My whole part is in Spanish, and they couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying. So, Kevin just had to trust me, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, he doesn’t even know what I’m saying.” For me it was cool, but at the same time I was nervous, because I felt like everything depended on me — what I’m saying or that I’m doing the right thing, because they don’t know. I felt really good that they liked what I did and it worked out really well.

CE: Tell me about filming Nacho Libre with Jack Black where you played Sister Encarnacion. I have to tell you that this movie is one of my favorite comedies of the past 10 years — I laughed so hard in some scenes I was crying.

Ana: Oh, thank you! For me it was a blessing because I’m a nun. (Laughs) I’m kidding. We were in Mexico the whole time in a beautiful town called Oaxaca. So, the whole crew was Mexican. The only Americans were literally Jack, Jared (Hess, writer and director) and Mike White (writer). The rest of us were Mexican folks. It was really nice that they were adapting to us. I think Jared did a great job. He’s fluent in Spanish so he did a great job trying to get on the screen our culture and who were are, and he was very respectful about it. We had the best time.  Oaxaca is one of the best places to eat, and so I gained a lot of weight because Jack is a good eater. He was eating the whole time. 

For me, that movie was my big breakout. I was living in Mexico. I was an actress, of course. I already had a pretty good career there. From that moment I had almost 10 years acting, but I got the part without an agent or anything. I had a plan to go away to American to try to make it in Hollywood, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the money. But then the movie came to Mexico and I got the part.

CE: That’s great that Hollywood came to you!

Ana: Yeah, but after that movie it’s been pretty hard. It’s really, really hard to keep working. There’s a lot of competition out there. There’s a lot of great Latina actresses out there competing for the same roles. Sometimes I have too much accent or I don’t look Mexican enough or sometimes I don’t have enough accent — it’s weird. I struggle a lot, but now I think I get it. After a couple of years, you learn how L.A. works.

CE: Now fans can catch you in HBO’s outrageous and HILARIOUS comedy, Eastbound & Down, which is hands-down one of my favorite shows out right now. What can you tell me about the part you play, Vida, as well as any plot points you can divulge?

Ana: Well, you know that Kenny leaves April at the gas station. So, he basically disappears and wants to start over and wants to go to a new world, so he goes to Mexico. When he comes, I think it’s going to be really, really fun because his character is not that smart. I think he’s pretty ignorant. He’s in a completely new culture. His weaknesses are much bigger. He meets me there and I’m a singer. He thinks we have a connection because I sing Bob Segar songs, covers, but in Spanish the whole time. It was a lot of fun to record those songs. But I can’t tell you much; I don’t want to ruin the story.

CE: How on Earth do you keep a straight face playing opposite Danny McBride?

Ana: Oh my gosh. It is really, really hard. What helps me is I just block my mind, and I’m not listening to him. Because if not, there have been times when the crew couldn’t even work because they were laughing. The camera guy was laughing, and the camera moved because he was laughing. Those guys are really sweet and we improvised a lot. The way they work is we did the scene as it was written like two or three times, and then they just let us free. They let us do whatever we wanted and say whatever we wanted, and we just improvised over and over. I think that’s really a smart thing to do in a comedy show. Those were the hardest moments, because you didn’t expect what somebody was going to say or do. I had the best time. The people from HBO are the sweetest people. They were so nice to me. I couldn’t ask for more. Literally I had the best time of my life.

CE: All the comedic geniuses you’ve worked with, and you can keep a straight face. Directors should pay heed!

Ana: Yeah, I’m really good at it. You know why? Because what happened to me when I did Nacho Libre is — what I am used to is usually when you film in Mexico, the actual film is so expensive that you are not allowed to be laughing like we were doing (on Nacho Libre). How I am used to working is not being able to do very many takes because it’s so expensive, and we don’t have the budget to ruin the scene just because we were laughing. In Mexico, that would be so bad for the director that you are ruining the film, because we don’t have that much money to spend. For me, doing that is disrespectful to the crew. So, that’s why even though I know that I’m allowed to do it, I’m just trained that way not to laugh. I just try to keep a straight face all the time and then laugh after.

CE: I’ve read that although Danny plays a lot of asshole characters that he is really a nice person to work with.

Ana: Yes he is. He and the directors, the writers and the producers were the nicest people, and they are all friends from college. The atmosphere on set was like you were just with friends all the time, and everything was really relaxed. He is the nicest most humble guy and so talented. Like really — he is really, really talented. I would love to work with him again. He’s pretty hot. He’s really smart and educated. He’s really different.

CE: What other projects do you have coming up?

Ana: I do a lot of dramas in Mexico. I have another HBO show; it’s for HBO Latin America that I did for a season two years ago. It’s going to be funny because I’m going to be on HBO in America and HBO in Latin America with different shows. It’s a show called Capadocia. It’s really dark. It’s a big drama. 

And I just finished up a movie called Cowboys & Aliens with Jon Favreau directing, and starring Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell and Harrison Ford. It’s an action adventure film that is really more unusual for me. I have this love story with Sam. It’s a very, very pretty role.

(pictures 2 and 3: Credit HBO/Fred Norris)

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