'Cantinflas' Exclusive: Screenwriter Edui Tijerina Talks Writing Untold Story Of Legendary Mexican Actor

Edui Tijerina, Oscar Jaenada
'Cantinflas' Screenwriter Edui Tijerina and lead actor Oscar Jaenada Courtesy Photo

“Cantinflas” is a movie about the untold story about Mexico’s most beloved comedy film star of all time, Mario Moreno (Cantinflas,) takes on the journey that took him from his humble beginnings sweeping the floors of traveling theaters and attempting to box, to small stages where he made endless audiences laugh their heads off. All of this brought the legendary character to life, and eventually to the bright lights of Hollywood. Screenwriter Edui Tijerina brings us inside his avid work of compiling Cantinflas’ initial years, personal and political life, to bring a brilliantly moving film to the big screen. Latin Times: What about this character inspired you to write the movie? Edui Tijerina: Everything about Don Mario Moreno and his character ‘Cantinflas’ has always inspired me. My life, like many Mexicans’, has been filled with his movies. The first ones I saw, was with my family at a movie theatre.

LT: How close to reality is the story you tell about Mario Moreno and Cantinflas in the movie?

ET: When writing a project like this (Biopic) one assumes a double responsibility especially since there’s a natural division in the potential audience. On one side we have those who know about the character or even knew the character. Those are the ones who’ll be very observant that you stick to reality. On the other side there are the ones who know nothing about the character but expect that we are presenting them with real researched facts and anecdotes. During our research period we looked at all the sources possible and even bumped into different versions of the same anecdotes. In those cases we took the most recurrent ones.

LT: What will surprise the audience most about Cantinflas?

ET: We were very careful in the way we told the story. I personally think we found a good balance between the personal and professional anecdotes we picked for the plot of this movie. That said, I think they’ll be surprised at what happened behind the curtains or after he heard the word “cut!”

LT: Which side of Mario Moreno or Cantinflas was most important to you that people saw?

ET: Empathizing with the audience, I think it’s important to satisfy their expectation of a biography, which is to get to know more about the main character. While it’s very hard to put an entire life into less than two hours, we were extremely careful in the information we picked so that people could get a more complete sense of who Mario Moreno ‘Cantinflas’ was.

LT: How hard is it to write a script about an innate improviser?

ET: This was a team effort, from watching movies to going over every anecdote with consultants, the movie director and of course, Oscar Jaenada’s spectacular talent.

LT: Did you have any involvement in other aspects of the film like casting, producing, directing?

ET: No.

LT: What moral did you take from writing this story and what do you want the audience to take from it?

ET: I can answer that with three sentences; one which singer, Alex Syntek wrote, “Laugh out of love until you die,” the second one: “Life is a comedy,” everything that happens in life is an opportunity to learn, depending on how you take each experience. The last one, “There are moments when life is truly momentary,” so we need to live in the now; it goes by very quickly and we can live a life lamenting what didn’t happen.

LT: What was the biggest challenge you faced during this process?

ET: I think when you enjoy what you do everything’s enjoyable. The bumps, the difficulties, all of it. I can literally say that I enjoyed working on this project from beginning to end.

LT: How much of the script was a collaboration with Sebastián del Amo and how much of it did you take on separately?

ET: Collaboration with writers, directors, producers, etc has been key to this project. The script is in fact a result of that collaboration. Thanks to cyber technology, distance wasn’t an issue.

LT: If you could listen in on people’s comments after they watch the movie, what would you want hear?

ET: “I loved it,” “It really inspired me to keep getting better at what I’m doing,” “Now I admire ‘Cantinflas’ even more,” “I want to watch it again.”

 

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Natalie Roterman
Natalie Roterman

Natalie (from Mexico) joined Latin Times back in 2014 and she is all about pop culture and entertainment. She also has a genetic love for food and traveling. Follow her and get the scoop on the biggest upcoming films and TV shows, plus interviews with your favorite stars that you won’t want to miss. When she’s not writing for Latin Times, she’s either filming her next episode of “El Show de Natalie,” at a movie theater, binge-watching a new TV series, or planning her next meal.