Actor Héctor Jiménez, best known for playing ‘Esqueleto’ in “Nacho Libre,” not only stars alongside Tom Sizemore in the new comedy “Cellmates,” but also served as executive producer through his production company, “A Ciegas.”
The movie, out in theaters for a limited time, deals openly with racism, the Ku Klux Klan and immigration, but handles it with an underlying social commentary that balances out the apprehension audiences may feel at first regarding its controversial subject matter.
Fox News Latino talked with the director and the cast about this independent movie that touches so many hot-button issues.
“The Klan hates everybody,” said Jesse Baget, the movie’s writer/director.
“Being from Arizona myself [and] having seen and grown up with those kind of issues, on the border it feels more topical these days,” he added.
The movie is set in 70’s Texas, opening with Leroy Lowe (Sizemore) rising through the ranks of the local Ku Klux Klan chapter to be crowned ‘Grand Dragon.’ Eventually, the government cracks down on the organization’s activities, which lands Lowe in jail.
In prison, Lowe becomes cellmates with Mexican activist immigrant laborer, Emilio Ortiz (Héctor Jiménez), forcing him to live in tight quarters with the type of person he professed so much hatred and racism towards. The pair strikes a friendship that changes their perspective about themselves and the world around them. In essence, the movie is a jailhouse buddy comedy.
“It’s about tolerance, about friendship, about love,” Jiménez said.
Sizemore, who is a self-professed liberal, said he was okay with playing a Klan member because of his character’s transformation.
“I found myself moved, emotionally moved by Leroy Lowe’s journey to an epiphany that he had led half of his life as a racist, and had missed out on so much,” Sizemore told Fox News Latino.
Mexican actress, Olga Segura, plays Madalena, the prison warden’s Mexican maid, who eventually strikes up a romance with Sizemore’s character.
“I grew up watching Tom Sizemore movies,” Segura said.“I feel grateful. It’s a great start to my career.”
But don’t let her pretty face fool you.
Segura is also co-producer of the movie as part of Jiménez’ production company, “A Ciegas,” and said actors have to create their own opportunities.
“It’s all about opening doors for yourself,” she said. “The ideas in your head are amazing but you have to create them.”
“That’s why we created our own production company,” Jiménez added. “We need to create our own projects because we are here in an industry that only creates roles for Americans, not Mexicans.”
Both Jiménez and Segura have various movies scheduled for release in 2012-2013. Segura now has five movies under her belt, including “Goats” alongside Vera Farmiga, “Hidden Moon” with Wes Bentley, and “Mule,” starring Sharon Stone.
Following her mantra has paid off as Segura landed a role in “Mule” without auditioning after director Gabriela Tagliavini saw a screening of “Cellmates.”
With all their success “Cellmates” remains special for the two Mexican actors because it deals with an issue close to their heart.
“There are a lot of Mexicans that come here to the U.S. to follow a dream, but it’s not to harm people,” Segura said.
In “Cellmates” both Jiménez and Segura are in search for greater opportunities, something they achieve in the movie and in real life.
Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso