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.”
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.