Freedom Fought for in For Greater Glory
- Wednesday, May 30, 2012
In a storied career that’s now spanned three decades, Andy Garcia has played a slew of fascinating characters.
Whether it was a member of the legendary Corleone family in The Godfather: Part III, the supportive husband of a woman struggling with severe alcohol dependency in When a Man Loves a Woman or the cunning manager of Vegas’s famed Bellagio hotel who’s eventually outsmarted by a rag-tag group of thieves led by George Clooney in Oceans 11, he’s always made quite an impression.
But for his latest role as Enrique Gorostieta Verlarde in For Greater Glory, a decorated Mexican general who’s still not sure if he even believes in God but is leading the fight for religious freedom in a little-known civil war anyway, Garcia has signed up for a role that’s admittedly more personal.
“There are certain parallels to this movie and my own life,” Garcia says. “I come from a country [Cuba] where religious freedom was completely taken away for many years. So that parallel makes it easy for me to champion that cause.”
Rebels With a Cause
Centering around the Cristero War, a three-year rebellion in Mexico that kickstarted after President Plutarco Calles’ declaration that religion—and the practice of it—was illegal, more than 200,000 people ended up losing their lives in the battle from 1926-1929.
Let’s face it, for most people, it would’ve been far easier to “obey” the law and worship God privately. But for a passionate group of devout men, women and children who simply refused to be silent, that wasn’t an option. So after making the decision to sacrifice their own well-being in the name of faith, family and the future of their country, they eventually recruited the retired General Verlarde to lead the revolt against religious persecution.
While the true story behind For Greater Glory isn’t often featured in many modern history books, it’s already resonated with audiences in Mexico in a huge way. In fact, Garcia noted that after Titanic, it’s the second highest-grossing film and has “broken all records.”
“Although it was made in Mexico and financed there, it’s a movie for the world,” Garcia says. “It needs to be told because it’s a beautiful story.”
Embracing Faith in Hollywood
While actors are naturally in full-on promotional mode at a movie’s press junket, there was something decidedly different about this event that was held in Los Angeles recently.
Unlike your average superhero movie or run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, everyone from Dean Wright who directed the project, to an impressive newcomer you’ll definitely want to watch for, Mauricio Kuri, who plays a young martyr named José, seemed to have a particular pride about the story they’d been involved in.
And for Eduardo Verastegui (Bella), who was born in a tiny village in Northern Mexico, it was a rare opportunity in Hollywood to talk about his renewed faith that’s become the cornerstone of his own life.
"For many years, my faith was not the center of my life until a series of events happened while here in Los Angeles. I became aware that Latino men were not being seen in today's films as noble or as men of faith and integrity,” Verastegui shares. “I began to realize that I wasn't a part of the solution as an actor. That's when I made a promise. I would never again use my talents to do anything to harm my faith or my Latino culture. At the same time, I realized that I needed something bigger than myself to accomplish this. I needed help with the temptations found in my industry. How can I do this, knowing that I am a weak person? I understood that it was humanly impossible. So, at 28, I knew I needed something bigger than myself to fulfill this promise. That's when I went back to my faith. And I started learning more about my faith. I began working on a spiritual discipline, a spiritual structure.”
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