By Christina Rosas Anastasiou
Joining the fall line up of films starring Latinos is 200 Cartas, a romantic comedy about Newyourican the life of a Puerto Rican born in NY. One night, Raul meets Maria, a young Puerto Rican woman visiting New York. The night of their encounter, something dramatic happens and they are suddenly separated. Struck by love at first sight, he travels to Puerto Rico in search of this beautiful girl. This adventure will have him traveling around the island in search of his love.
200 Cartas premiered in NYC earlier last month, after completing production in Puerto Rico. The cast was thrilled to have completed a two year filming schedule which was funded by the Puerto Rican Film Commission. The film opens nationwide September 12th, 2013. We had a chance to catch up with some of the cast members during their press conferences and premieres.
200 Cartas is a romantic comedy written and directed by Bruno Irizarry starring Lin Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Modern Family; also the playwright for the Tony Award winner In the Heights), Jaime Camil (Devious Maids), Dayanara Torres (Watch Over Me), Monica Steuer (Sleeping with the Fishes), newcomer Miss Puerto Rico Mayra Matos and actress Pili Montilla. We met up with the cast at the New York premiere.
LH: What was your character like in the film?
Dyanara Torres: I play Yolanda, who looks for a way to get her life back together. She helps the main character to find Maria Sanchez. It was an easy role for me to play, we look alike, we’re always looking to achieve the next big thing, and I found that we both have similarities – we are both work alcoholics.
LH: What else are you working on?
Dyanara Torres: I have two more films coming up with Bruno and I’m very excited about that. There are projects that I’m going to work on, that involve Latina single moms – we’re still in talk for that. I’m going back to Puerto Rico to celebrate my 20th anniversary as Miss Universe!
LH: Congrats on the film! How did you enjoy filming in Puerto Rico?
Lin Manuel Miranda: I discovered parts of the island that I wasn’t familiar with. It was my first time working with a Puerto Rican cast and crew, so it was a real joy to discover the island with Miss Puerto Rico – two Miss Puerto Ricos in fact, and it was an incredibly fun time!
LH: How would you describe your character Raul?
Lin Manuel Miranda: Raul is a comic book artist who’s terrified of life. He puts all of the things he’s scared to do into his superheroes. He meets the woman of his dreams one night, who’s name is Maria Sanchez, that’s all he knows about her. She’s going back to Puerto Rico the next day, and so he writes a letter to every Maria Sanchez in Puerto Rico and goes in search of her!
LH: How did the project come about for you Bruno?
Bruno Irizarry: It was based from a personal story and it happened to me when I first moved to New York and I was 17 years old. I met this beautiful girl and I had to go back to Puerto Rico, and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I decided to come back to look for her, but I couldn’t find her. She wasn’t in school anymore, three years passed, and that was that. Then one day, twenty six years later, I bumped into her. She’s married, with two kids and up to this day, we are very good friends.
LH: What was it like for you working with your cast?
Bruno Irizarry: I was so lucky because I wrote the script for Lin Manuel Miranda. I was looking for someone who could represent a Latino, who has that situation – they’re from two different places. He’s from Puerto Rican descent, born here; he speaks English, and his Spanish – kind of funky and weird. And that was my character. I wanted a great actor! Someone who was of Puerto Rican descent and who’s Spanish is really bad! (Laughs) Then I met Lin and I thought, “That was me!” When I saw his audition tape, I knew it was him! I was so happy! With Dyanara, the same thing, I saw her on an audition, and she sent me a tape and I knew I had my Yolanda as well. Then, we got Mayra as Maria Sanchez, Monica and everyone clicked, we had tons of good energy.
I cannot be happier that the words that I wrote became something better than I thought. I have to mention – the Puerto Rico Film Commission, without them the film wouldn’t exist. They were the primary investors of this film without them, there would not be no 200 Cartas. They’re doing a great job of helping up and coming filmmakers. Myself, even though this is my second feature film, I was very blessed with having their support through all of these different situations that we had. Right now, I’m working next on a psychological thriller and also another comedy shot in Puerto Rico.
LH: How was the 200 Cartas filming experience for you?
Monica Steuer: It was amazing! I had already previously worked with Bruno and he wrote this part specifically for me and I had already worked in Puerto Rico before with other films, so it was like being home again! The cast was a riot on set!
LH: I know that everyone is excited because it was two years in the making, and now it’s finally finished! How does it feel?
Monica Steuer: It’s been a long wait, but I think the wait was worthwhile. I hope it does really well, it’s a heart warming film, it’s a funny film and it’s a family film, so I hope that everybody can come and enjoy it. Not only Latinos, but it’s a universal story when somebody goes out looking for love.
LH: Hi Pili, what has the film done for you and how did you get the part?
Pili Montilla: My character is Daisy; she is a strong athletic female. She’s very much in touch with her masculine side. I share a couple of scenes with Jaime Camil and Lin Manuel Miranda and it was just such a pleasure to share scenes with these amazing actors. We shot this movie two years ago and it’s finally out, and we’re so excited to see it on the big screen, and see how it comes out. The script is very well done and it’s just another example that Latinos can be amazing. I auditioned for the role in Puerto Rico and I got it!
LH: What did you like about playing Maria Sanchez?
Mayra Matos Perez: I like that Maria is a very humble girl and that she’s nice to everyone. In the movie, she makes friends easy and that’s the similarity with her and me. This is my first film, but I have been making a lot of commercials in Puerto Rico and I was Miss Puerto Rico in 2009. I’m used to the cameras and this movie has opened a lot of doors for me to make other movies. I own two modeling agencies and we have competitions in Puerto Rico and I’m working with a lot of models on the island.
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