From a tragic character in Maria Full of Grace to a hilarious scene stealer in The Big Wedding!
In Theaters April 26th and
a Guest on CBS/KCAL9 HOLA! LA on April 27th, 6PM, KCAL9
By Elia Esparza
Who doesn’t love BIG funny movies? And, when they have a Latina as a key character that is central to the story’s funny misadventures, well that’s just the icing on the cake. Recently, I caught up with actress Patricia Rae on the set of CBS/KCAL9’s HOLA! LA where she is featured on an upcoming episode that airs on Saturday, April 27th at 6PM on Los Angele’s KCAL9 and will repeat on Sunday, April 28th at 4:30PM on KCBS2.
Rae portrays the God-fearing, diehard Catholic woman named Madonna Soto in The Big Wedding — in theaters April 26th and co-stars a Hollywood who’s who– Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Ben Barnes in the role of her biological son Alejandro. The family is preparing for the a big wedding where the groom (Barnes) is the adopted Colombian son of the now divorced parents (DeNiro and Keaton). By some fluke, the groom’s birth mother (Rae) from Colombia, South America believes she is invited to the wedding. Problem is birth mama Madonna is a Catholic who lives exactly by the rules of her faith. No wiggle room. And divorced parents is not what she was assured when she gave her son up to Americans so that he would have a better life, education and more opportunities.
Madonna is coming to the wedding and the “long-divorced couple fakes being married” which of course turns everything upside down.
Best remembered for her unforgettable role in Maria Full of Grace, now in her current role as Madonna Soto, does her best to tackle Latino Hollywood stereotypes and shared insights on her career and working in The Big Wedding.
Latin Heat: You are very funning in this movie! Tell us about being cast in The Big Wedding?
Patricia Rae: Wow… sometimes things are just meant to be. I was in New York for my daughter’s college graduation when my manager called me that he has a big movie with major stars signed on and they’d like me to go in for an audition. It was an impossible situation because I can’t cut my trip short… it’s my daughter’s important event! My manager worked hard and asked the movie’s casting people if there was any way they could see me in New York. And, before I knew it, it happened. The director [Justin Zackham] and one of the producers came east and had a session for me. They flew in on a Red Eye… and the meeting was kismet… felt like they really got me. I felt like the role was my grandmother… I grew up with this… a religious moral woman who could be cool and celebrate life. Prior to my audition, filmmakers had a distorted version of what religious women in Latin America are. I mean here you can be religious and be a whore too. I also told them to make her Colombian versus from Equador.
LH: Were you nervous to be working with such a high profile ensemble?
PR: During my 25 years of working as an actor, I’ve had the pleasure to work with a lot of actors. I wasn’t nervous but more excited. When I went to the table read, I was super excited. I’ve met Bob De Niro before at my restaurant in New York, so I wasn’t nervous and super excited to work with Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon. They are the pinnacle of career acting women working past their age… they are tried and true artist.
LH: Tell us about your character, Madonna Soto?
PW: For me, she was a woman who had embraced her religion and at the same time find ways to make a good situation out of a bad situation. She had two children with a married man and she shielded herself to protect herself and save her family name. She saw opportunity to save her son by giving him up for adoption to Americans to secure a better future for him. She chose the son over daughter– felt the daughter would benefit more with her mom and was easier to control morals and ethics. And, a son automatically has more opportunities for education especially in America. It was Madonna’s Sophie’s Choice moment. When she goes to the wedding, it’s such a painful moment for her to have the compassion and open heartedness to accept to let go of her son and hope and pray the adopted mother has done right in raising her son. Madonna didn’t know if the adopted parents lived a moral life which of course she prayed for… and is catalyst to the story because they aren’t religious like my character.
“Our written word is most powerful tool we have as Latinos”
LH: You grew up loving Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, is the comedic you dying to come out?
PR: Absolutely! The Big Wedding is very funny and I’m actually very funny. Comedy always stems from tragedy– I did sketch comedy in a troupe– that’s where I first started with more female driven sketches. I not only want roles to be female-oriented but to have a genuine female point of view. I was raised in New York and love comedy on stage. It’s only on TV and movies that I’ve done drama. Unfortunately, being Latina and a mom, most of the roles I play is one of victim and it’s very taxing on me.
LH: It’s wonderful to see more Latinos being cast in major films, but as a Latina, it makes me soar with pride when I see players like you in a multitude of roles. How do you feel about that?
PR: Latinas have more to offer, and the more we speak up and write and push our children in arts to write and produce… the better. Teach them to be more in-charge . We should not be the mouth feed of whatever non-ethnic who are writing for us their versions of who we are. Our written word is most powerful tool we have as Latinos.
LH: How do you feel about the The Big Wedding casting of a non-Latino in the role of your son Alejandro?
PR: It would have been wonderful if the producers had made the role available to Latino actors, but filmmaking is a businees and ultimately the producers have to do what is right for the film– with that said Ben Barnes was amazing in the movie, and he did a great job with the accent. I also believe that as actors we should be able to portray characters of any nationality regardless of our own race… that is why i think it is so important for Latinos to write and produce their own stories, so that audiences are exposed to “our” stories within the fabric of entertainment
LH: What was hardest lesson you learned while pursuing your acting career?
PR: To be humble. There are a lot of times you are in a bad situation when a director or someone is disrespectful to you. Do not tolerate it but confront it in a respectful way and do not be angry or hold it against that person. Because ultimately you will work with these people again. Hardest lesson is not to burn bridges because you’ll work with them again. I practice yoga and teach yoga… besides my being catholic, I also tap into the hindo religion, karma or destiny… you don’t need to wrong them back because they are in-charge of their own karma.
LH: Young Latinas looking for guidance, what would you tell them?
PR: If you want something, you have to do it and never give up. It’s really not about the goal it’s about the journey… that’s what art is. Just do it.