He‘s been the new Pacino, he‘s been the new De Niro. now at last Andy Garcia is being recognised in his own right. As Things To Do In Denver When You 're Dead hits the screens. he tells Alan Morrison about his

Cuban roots.

The road


14 The List 3-l6 May l996

hen America‘s l lispanic population makes a case against l-lollywood lor not ptttting enough l.atin-:\merican heroes on screen. they must be l‘orgetting about Andy (iarcia. Then again. it doesn't help il lilm industry logic keeps casting the Havana-born actor as an Italian.

It‘s now JS years since the lamin ol live—year— old :\rturo (iarcia—Xlencnde/ lclt Cuba lor Florida where. as an immigrant schoolboy. he lelt isolated lrom his classmates due to his dilliculties with the linglish language. \ow. three weeks alter his 40th birthday. married to a lellow Cuban and lather ol three daughters. he’s more secure about his roots. although mention ol the Castro regime still touches a raw nerve.

‘lt‘s very hard lor me not to be passionate about something that's been with me l'rom childhood. allecting lamin and lriends.‘ (iarcia says. ‘lt‘s a tragic llaw ol Cuban culture to be political people. and that‘s been part ol our great pain over the centuries. l have no personal relationships with Cuba any more. I was very small when my lamily all lelt. but I consider every Cuban my lriend. I don‘t consider the Cttban government my lriend. I haven‘t been back since the day l lelt. It‘s an emotional problem lor me; it‘s like asking a Jew il they would like to go and live with Hitler. that’s the way I see Castro.‘

Strong words. bttt like his screen presence. Garcia in the llcsh is a coolly composed and immediately likeablc ligure. There's only a slight hint ol an accent a richer colouring to every ‘r‘ and ‘l‘ -— as he turns lrom talking about politics to his career.

‘I haven’t been back to Cuba since the day I left. It’s an emotional problem for me; it’s like asking a Jew it they would like to go and live with Hitler, that’s the way I see Castro.’

Andy Garcia: Cuban missile

It wasn‘t until his supporting turn as a drug dealer itt 1986's [fight .llillton ll’ays To Die that (iarcia cattght the eye ol studio executives and cinema audiences alike. Belore then. he'd taken the traditional route ol' moving to l.os Angeles and working as a waiter while picking up bit parts on stage and on television ~ including the pilot episode ol Hill Street Blues.

l’or a while it looked as il he was always going to be typecast as a cop »- 'l'he li’ntouchahles. Internal imam, Black Rain. Jennifer S - even though he‘d stepped over to the other side ol the law as Al Pacino's illegitimate nephew Vincent in The (iotl/ather l’art Ill. receiving an Oscar nomination in the process. "l'herc are always rumours. and certainly there is a desire on my part to do a lourth.‘ (Viarcia says ol Coppola's malia series. ‘but lirancis is the true (iodlather. and he decides whether we go or not.’

Since then he‘s widened his repertoire. giving a sensitive and etnotionally complex perlortnance as alcoholic Meg Ryan's long- sullering husband in When A

Man Loves xl ll’oman. and playing good/bad twins lending over a lamin

inheritance in the lorthcoming comedy Steal Big, Steal Little. due lor release in June.

Belore then comes the brilliantly titled Things lo Do In Denver When You 're l)ea(l. a superior

film Il()ll' that casts (iarcia as Jimmy The Saint. a

lormer gangster trying to go straight. When a bungled linal job lor wheelchair-bot]nd psychotic Christopher Walken doesn‘t go to plan. Jimmy and his learn are given 48 hours to get out ol town or into a collin.

Garcia invests the character with a quiet dignity. lilling debut director Gary liiledcr‘s movie with an unexpected etnotional resonance. It is a wonderlul. underplayed perlormance that uses (iarcia‘s calming presence as an anchor around which a line set olcharacter actors Steve Buscemi. Treat Williams. Christopher Lloyd create some tnore colourlul eccentrics.

‘Jimmy The Saint is a man struggling with his destiny as a gangster. which means his lilc is

ending. and his potential destiny with a young woman he has just met. which is like lilc beginning.‘ says (iarcia. ‘l-‘or me. it was

important to always emphasise that we kill two people at the beginning olthe movie. and that we shouldn‘t take that lightly. This is not the kind ol movie where we kill people lor the sake ol humour or dark comedy.‘

lilsewhere. (iarcia has been tapping into his Cuban heritage behind the camera. In 1993. he spliced together rehearsal and concert lootage ol legendary Cuban jazz bassist lsrael ‘Cachao' l.ope'/. lor his debut documentary (‘achaos Like His Rhythm There Is No ()ther. He has also lor years been preparing a leature based on Guillermo Cabrera lnlante's novel. The Lost ('it_\'. set in at Tropicana nightclub in pre- rcvolutionary llavana.

(iarcia would dearly love to shoot the lilm on home soil. but there‘s only one obstacle. The big man with the beard and cigar. ‘thn he goes.' (iarcia gives his linal word on the subject ol Castro. ‘l‘ll go.‘

Things '1?) Do In Denver When You‘re l)('(l(/ opens on Friday [0 May.