AMFM interviewed the lovely Yvette Yates to ask her about her lead role in “El Gringo”, which will be in theaters May 11th. She’s a Texas lady, and shares some similarities with her character Anna in the film. She’s smart, sexy and fierce.
El Gringo is part of a new action movie franchise AFTER DARK ACTION by Dark Castle Home Entertainment and After Dark Films. The series of five films will feature stars Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Peter Weller, Jim Caviezel, Cung Le and Christian Slater. The movies will be showcased theatrically as a commercial film festival in markets nationwide and on VOD on May 11.
SYNOPSIS: In EL GRINGO, The Man (Adkins) crosses into Mexico with a satchel of $2,000,000, cash, a bloody past, and a plan to live out his remaining days on a beach. Instead, he gets stuck waiting for a bus in El Fronteras, a sleepy desert town that’s so uninviting that – forget about the ocean – he can hardly find a glass of water. Then, word of his money spreads to the El Fronteras underworld. Under sudden attack from corrupt cops, gangsters, and desperados, the Man must push back his retirement plans, lock and load, and save sleepy El Fronteras through a dizzying display of spectacular gunfights. EL GRINGO is directed by Eduardo Rodriguez (Stash House) and written by Jonathan W. Stokes.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR LEAD ROLE IN “EL GRINGO” YVETTE
Thank you so much. This film specifically is partnered with After Dark Films, who are known for their 8 Films to Die for Series. I love it. I play Anna in the film, and she’s strong, fierce, an independent woman who runs a cantina in the bordertown of “El Fronteras” aka “Bordertown”. I’m actually from Juarez, Mexico so right away I thought it was perfect! My immediate inclination was, I know this and in a sense I’ve beenaround this environment; the people, the feel of what it’s like to be a part of two worlds yet feeling like one. There’s just a bridge with a river in between. As I read the script, I couldn’t wait to do the actions scenes which included knife-throwing and hand to hand combat, and yes, I got to do my own stunts! I was reminded of how Robert Rodriguez encapsulated Salma Hayek in “Desperado”– fun, sexy and lots of action.
I was intrigued working with Scott Adkins, who is going to be in “Expendables 2,” he’s all about doing intense action scenes which I think will add a layer the audience will enjoy. Just as fantastic, was working with Christian Slater for the second time. I worked with him in the comedy “Without Men” which included an ensemble cast of Eva Longoria, Kate del Castillo, Oscar Nunez, Judy Reyes, and Maria Conchita Alonso amongst others. It’s so surreal because I grew up watching his films, and then I hear I get this role, and I’m just like how lucky am I to be working with him two times in one year! He plays ‘Lt. West’ and was just such a professional – so giving. He’s really good to the cast and crew. When he finished shooting in Louisiana before heading to Bulgaria, he sent Red Velvet cupcakes to the cast and crew. They were so good!
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR DAD HAS A DOCTORATE AND WAS THE PRESIDENT OF A FILM COMPANY?
My father not only has his B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a Minor in Administration, a Masters in Public Administration, but also a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a Minor in Experimental Statistics. And my mother as of the last few years has been working with autistic children in an elementary school in El Paso, and they have the most perfect person, she’s all giving.
Industry-wise, he was the President of IMCINE, Azteca Films which was based in Los Angeles. He headed the Mexican Film Commission at the Cannes, Milan, Paris, Rome and London Film Festivals which also involved co-productions in association with U.S.A., Europe, and Mexico. So we were in L.A. for a few years as kids, returned back to Texas/Mexico, and ultimately, I had to come back for college. Since I was kid, education has always been important in my family. I went to UCLA being pre-Med and graduating with B.S. in Physiological Science. I still do love the sciences. My sister who’s an attorney, went to USC. One brother graduated high school in 2 years, went to UCSD and is a dentist, and the little brother, I can’t believe it, will be graduating from high school, a year early. So to say we are ambitious and dedicated, is right on. I was brought up that you have to work for what you want and to learn as much as you can along the way.
SO YOU HAVE A FAMILY OF ACHIEVERS, BUT YOU’RE THE ARTIST IN THE BUNCH, RIGHT?
I am, and it was an interesting path because I vividly remember taking the MCAT. It took all day and I felt this rush of emotions when it was done because I had achieved that moment. The next step would then be the applications for medical schools but I had this feeling, this voice, I HAD to try acting. It’s just something I literally had to do, and I’d never taken acting classes before. It took me a few months before I told my parents as I worked doing research at UCLA’s medical school. This was something totally new in my family, but when I finally did tell them, they supported my decision. What lay before was a big unknown; Maybe I’ll succeed, maybe I’ll fail, but I have to try. There’s no better way than just jumping in and doing it.
IN A SHORT TIME YOU’VE GONE ON TO DO LARGE PROJECTS, SO YOU MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT. TELL ME MORE ABOUT “EL GRINGO”
It’s always humbling, I was getting ready for the Red Carpet premiere of my previous film, “Without Men”, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood when my manager called me that I had received the role in “El Gringo”. And I’m going to be utterly honest, I screamed and perhaps danced around in my gown as I finished getting ready. That was a pretty perfect day, a double celebration! I play ‘Anna’, who is willing to risk everything to have the chance to bring the town back to what it used to be before violence took over. She has a relentless hope that drives her, and is all or nothing.
TELL ME ABOUT THE STUNTS IN THE MOVIE
There’s one particular scene there’s hand-to-hand combat, and I felt that I needed to feel the pain my character was going through to make it organic, no stage fighting. I told my costar to go ahead and use some force, so I’m crying and fighting and lose myself in the scene…all I remember was the silence from everyone around. I look at the director after he yelled “Cut” and knew we had it. I admit I did feel physically drained the next day, luckily it was my last day of shooting!
STRIKING DOWN STEREOTYPES
When I got the role and began breaking down my character, I actually approached the director and producer about not doing Anna with an accent. Being from a bordertown myself, it was important to represent and show a different perception; dominating both languages just as many of us do in real life and not having the stereotypical accent.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ROLE?
I didn’t know how to get into acting. I became a stand-in for a few shows because that was my way to see the functions of the cast and crew, the terminology, the infrastructure, and I learned what it was like to be on set. I had no representation, so I proceeded to submit myself to projects, and I got the lead role, Lucena, in an AFI thesis film called “Nina Quebrada” (which means “Broken Girl”) about human trafficking. It was in 2008, my first role ever. It had the most impressive run in the festival circuit which lead to my first BEST ACTRESS nomination at the 2008 Imagen Foundation Awards, and that was the beginning of it all. Because of this, I have a special place for short films, we all start somewhere.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM ROLE?
At the end of the day, the projects that drive me the most speak a truth and move an audience. To move an audience to laughter, tears, a memory or to arouse a discussion is one of the most amazing things about the medium of film. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to be part of that.
I admire the works of both Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose and Salma Hayek in Frida. They were such powerful and dramatic pieces going between the light and dark. To play an inspiring true-life female figure that left the world a better place, that’s my dream role.
FOLLOW YVETTE YATES
Facebook FanPage: www.facebook.com/pages/Actress-Yvette-Yates/484274130603
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/YvetteYates (@YvetteYates)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
EL GRINGO Playing in Theatres & V.O.D. May 11, 2011
Link to Theatres: http://www.afterdarkaction.com/theaters.html
Facebook FanPage: http://www.facebook.com/AfterDarkAction