Michael Pena Set to Play Cesar Chavez in the Bio-Pic “Cesar”

Rosario Dawson is Dolores Huerta;  America Ferrera to Play Cesar’s Wife

Hollywood, CA — A long time coming the film on Cesar Chavez’s life is finally becoming a reality!  In the title role of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez will be Michael Pena (Crash).  Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Unstoppable) is on board to portray Dolores Huerta co-founder of the UFW; while Cesar’s wife will be played by America Ferrera (Ugly Betty, Real Woman Have Curves).

Peña will play the Mexican American activist Cesar Estrada Chavez, labor leader and co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union (UFW) who led the largest nonviolent protest in U.S. history to achieve its goal of obtaining basic human rights for more than 50,000 farm workers in California. Diego Luna will direct the film, which will be co-produced by Canana Films and will feature Gael Garcia Bernal and John Malkovich among a long list of producers.

“This man inspired an entire community to see themselves as deserving of basic rights and to rise up against injustice,” said Luna. “The film will send the message that change is in our hands — Chavez did something everyone thought impossible with a fearless grace that magnetized an entire country.”

Cesar Chavez

Pena is an excellent choice to play Chavez.  He first caught Hollywood’s attention in the 2004 Oscar winning Crash and has gone on to amass a long list of credits (Battle: Los Angeles, Lincoln Lawyer, World Trade Center), impressing critics and audiences alike.  However, Pena is no stranger to playing Mexican-American icons.  In 2006 he played Sal Castro, in the HBO movie Walkout.  Castro is the Mexican-American educator and activist known for his role in the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, a series of protests against unequal conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools.  His award winning performance was recognized with an ALMA Award nomination and an Imagen Award win for Best Actor.

Although several scripts have been written by Latinos of Chavez’s life, one of them being by Teatro Campesino’s founder Luis Valdez (La Bamba, Zoot Suit), who was involved with the UFW during its formative for some reason, Hollywood never moved forward with any of the scripts.  Now Canana films has turned to Oscar nominated and UK-based writer Keir Pearson (Hotel Rwanda) to write the script.

Jacob Vargas (Death Race, Walkout, Water & Power) has also been cast as Cesar’s brother Richard and Yancey Arias (America, Walkout) as Gilbert Padilla have also been cast.  The film is set to begin lensing next month in Mexico.

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5 thoughts on “Michael Pena Set to Play Cesar Chavez in the Bio-Pic “Cesar”

  • March 16, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    So happy that this movie is being made and with such terrific Latino actors, but disappointed that once again the film industry thinks it needs to pull in an Anglo to tell our story.

    I guess without it, they can’t get the funding.

    Luis Valdez is a great writer and he was there, I can’t imagine anyone else having as deep a connection and understanding, not only of what Cesar did for farm workers, but civil rights for all Latinos.

  • March 16, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    While I had thought Yancey also would have done an excellent job playing Cesar, I am happy that michael pena was chosen. he is a wonderful actor!

    • March 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Yancey Arias is too old, doesn’t look like Cesar Chavez, he’ not as good an actor as Michael Pena and Yancey Arias is not Chicano. and yes for THIS role – if ever there was one – it should be played by a Mexican-American actor – no offense Puerto Ricans, Cubanos or anyone else – but THIS role is not one to be taken away from the Chicano community (like virtually every other role for Latino films, TV, etc). And if there wasn’t a big enough name for the role or a talented enough Chicano – than I hope Diego Luna would have kept searching until he found the right actor.

      When it comes to acting – Chicana/os NEVER get the fair end of the stick – cause it always seems to go to Latina/os of other backgrounds – for instance – Dolores Huerta and Helen Chavez in THIS movie will not be played by Chicanas – Rosario & America are both GREAT FANTASTIC choices – but it would have been nice and so awesome … so INCREDIBLE …. if one or even both roles went to Chicanas. Including may be even “discovering” and “introducing” someone new ….

      but I’m sure every actor cast will do a great job – no matter who they choose. 🙂

      Si Se Puede!

  • March 20, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Rosario Dawson is the most beautiful Latina in Hollywood in addition to being a wonderful actress.

    One more thing, she is always pulling for Latinos.

    • April 19, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      And she heads the non-profit Voto Latino which tries to get Latinos registered so they can vote! Smart Lady!

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