Froylán Gutiérrez the new Latino king of horror The Strangers
Courtesy CAA

MIAMI - Froylán Gutiérrez is celebrating that his movie, "The Strangers: Chapter 1," which he stars in alongside Madelaine Petsch, is among the top three most-watched films this weekend.

But that's not the only reason this Mexican-American actor has to celebrate. A glance at his career tells the extraordinary story of a young man born in Texas and raised between Mexico and the United States, fully embodying the essence of Latino culture. He proudly represents both his Mexican heritage and his powerful American identity.

During a visit to Miami to promote "The Strangers: Chapter 1," Gutiérrez spoke with The Latin Times about his journey. "I have this dual feeling that it hasn't been easy, but at the same time, it's been incredibly quick and magical," he said. Besides him, Petsch smiled, reflecting the camaraderie they developed during the months spent filming in Bratislava, Slovakia, not just the first chapter of the saga but the next two as well.

This remake of "The Strangers," directed by Renny Harlin, is an amped-up version of the original, in which Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman starred in 2008. "It was an intense yet incredibly fun experience," Gutiérrez shared. He plays Ryan, who, along with Maya (Petsch), accidentally arrives in a town where they face a trio of masked killers known as Man in the Mask, Pin-Up Girl, and Dollface.

From Teen Wolf to the King of Horror

His role in the sixth season of the series "Teen Wolf" in 2017 was his breakout, even though he had already appeared as a guest actor in "Bella and the Bulldogs" and "The Goldbergs." Gutiérrez is also a proud friend of Rita Moreno (they worked together at 'A Day af a Time') and got to hold her Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Emmy.

Despite the success of his character, Nolan Holloway, it wasn't until 2021 that he gained prominence again as the lead in the series "Cruel Summer." Then came his role in the movie "Hocus Pocus 2," but "The Strangers" marks his first starring role in a film.

For Gutiérrez, it was essential to convey the violence of fear and the immense frustration his character feels. Besides the psychological work to get into Ryan's skin, he used small physical tricks like "pushing on a wall that won't budge. That kind of frustration brings you into the scene, your heart's pumping, and you embrace the feeling that comes from trying every method available to achieve what you want, yet not succeeding. That's the kind of dread in the horror of this movie."

"The Strangers: Chapter 1" has proven to be a box office hit, raking in impressive numbers during its opening weekend. With over $25 million in ticket sales, it has solidified Gutiérrez's place as a leading actor in Hollywood.

Although he hadn't seen the original film when he got the offer, the world of "The Challengers" was part of his love for horror movies. "I was familiar with 'They Prey at Night,' the sequel, because my friend Bailee Madison is in it, and she took me to see it. It was actually the movie that got me into horror as an adult," he remembered. Of course, once he got the part, he watched the first one and was hooked. "I still can't believe I am part of horror film history."

Family and Personal Life

Born to a Mexican father and an American mother, Froylán Gutiérrez's family has been a cornerstone of his identity and success. Raised in a bilingual household, he often credits his parents for instilling in him the values of hard work and perseverance. His father, a professor of Latin American studies, and his mother, an artist, provided a rich cultural tapestry that deeply influenced him as an artist.

Gutiérrez often speaks about his younger sister and how their family's support has been unwavering through his rise in Hollywood. "If they hadn't been supporting me, I wouldn't be here," he said.

Froy Gutiérrez has also made history by promoting his story as a bicultural Latino. To promote "The Strangers," he appeared with colleagues wearing the killers' masks on the red carpet at the 2024 Latin American Music Awards, where he also presented an award.

"Sometimes being a white Latino has prevented me from getting roles with Latino names, or in which their Latino culture was part of their identity as characters. However, I proudly say we Latinos come in all ethnicities. Listen to my name and look at me," he said.

Additionally, last year he revealed he is part of the LGBTQIA community. In 2023, he announced his relationship with American actor Zane Phillips.

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