It’s hard enough to make it as an actress in the country even if you grew up in Los Angeles or New York. Imagine having to come all the way from another country to give it a shot? Well, Ana de la Reguera did have a head start. The Veracruz, Mexico native did have a well-established career before arriving in the states to tackle American cinema and television. Regardless, adjustments need to be made and it’s certainly not easy, but Reguera likes a good challenge and is diving into this one headfirst.
Over the past few years we’ve seen her star alongside Jack Black in Nacho Libre, joke around with Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis in Cop Out and earn some laughs on the show Eastbound & Down, but for her latest film, Reguera is switching gears and battling some aliens. Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens takes place in Arizona in 1873 where the classic Wild West atmosphere is turned upside down when the region gets some extraterrestrial visitors. Sam Rockwell stars as Doc and Reguera as his wife, Maria.
As thrilled as Reguera is to have a thriving career in the states, she’d never turn down a trip back to Mexico to tackle an intriguing role there. Between her career in both countries, her charitable efforts and simply her desire to grow, Reguera certainly has her hands full – but that’s the way she likes it. Check out everything Reguera told us all about her past, present and her aspirations for the future in the interview below.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into acting?
I started dancing when I young. I did ballet and classic jazz. After dancing, then I moved to acting pretty quick when I was around 16. I started to go to acting classes in my hometown in Veracruz at the local theater and then I went to Mexico City and studied the acting career for three years and started working soon.
You may not be a widespread household name in the states yet, but it seems like that might not be the case in Mexico with all of your accolades. Is life entirely different for you in the two places?
It is. In Mexico, I have a pretty good career and I get a lot of attention, but it’s also good. You have to be very humble to come to another country and to really try again from the beginning and I can’t complain. I’m playing great things, I’m working with amazing actors and that’s an awesome way to grow as an actor, too. So I’m very very happy. And it keeps me grounded, you know? It keeps me in a good place because I have to start knocking on a lot of doors and that’s good for me. I like that. I like a challenge.
How did being named one of People Español’s “50 Most Beautiful” effect your career? Did the honor attract more work?
Yeah, it does. Well, it’s not that important in Latin America. I’ve been on the list a couple of times, but it’s not that huge for us in Latin American like it is here, I think.
Do you find it pigeon holes you as the quintessential “pretty woman?” Not that that’s really a bad thing.
Not really. I’ve been able to play many different roles. In Mexico, I just worked on two seasons of a show called Capadocia and it’s about a woman in prison and my character goes through a complete transformation. And I’ve done a couple other movies that I’m not playing the pretty girl. When I have to, I’m happy and when I’m not, I’m happy, too.
So are you consciously trying to make the jump from Mexican to American cinema or is this just how things have played out?
Well, it’s always good to be able to work in other countries and in Mexico I’ve done everything, so for me it’s good to be working here too because I’m able to get more jobs to be able to do different stuff. So it is consciously, yeah; I’ve been working for it. But there’s still many many projects that I still want to be in in Mexico so that’s why I go back and forth and I still like to go back to my country and do certain roles that I feel are really interesting for me and I don’t want to miss them, but I also think it’s important to open other markets.
How is it being on a Hollywood set as compared to some of the other films you’ve done?
It’s been the same. The only thing different it the budget, but the rest of the things, we work exactly the same way. Here it’s exactly the same thing – the same cameras, the same everything.
You know, the only difference I can think of is you have a stand-in. You know, the person that stands in the light for you when the cinematography is lighting the set, you have a person that stands there for you. We don’t have that in Mexico because we can’t afford to pay another salary for somebody else just to do that.
It sound simple, but that could turn out to be a pretty big change. It could significantly increase the amount of time you’re on set.
Yeah, definitely. It does. But at the same time, I miss it. Sometimes when you are on set more, you get to know more of the people and you get to know better what they’re going to do with the camera, with the lighting, with everything, so I miss it sometimes.
Is that something you’re interested in – learning about the other aspects of filmmaking, maybe writing or directing yourself one day?
I’m interested in producing. Maybe later. Not yet. I think it’s a lot of work and right now I have a charity in Mexico, so that’s taking me a lot of time, but I’m learning about a lot from that because you have to raise money and I think it’s kind of like the same thing that you have to do for a movie. So, I think I’m going to be able to produce pretty soon after I finish this goal that I want to accomplish with the charity.
So now we’ve seen you now on Eastbound & Down and in Cop Out and Nacho Libre, so is comedy the genre you’d like to focus on?
I love comedy and I think I’ve been very lucky with it here in the US. I don’t know; it’s just something that happened and I was able to do it in Mexico and I love it. I’m very very happy that people think I’m funny.
How’d you end up being cast in Cowboys and Aliens?
Well, I’ve done multiple dramas. Cowboys and Aliens is not a drama drama, so that was very easy to me. Actually, for me, it’s easier to do a drama than comedy.
Can you tell me about your character?
I play Sam Rockwell’s wife. We have a saloon – this is in the 1800’s – and we’re very in love, very happy and then the aliens come and make our lives – difficult [laughs].
So, you were working the closest with Sam Rockwell?
Yeah, most of my big scenes are with him, but I did work with the rest of the cast because we have two or three scenes that we are all together. So, yeah, I was able to meet everyone.
How was that? You’ve worked with a ton of top-notch actors before, but what’s it like being with so many great actors all at once? Can it be overwhelming?
Yeah, it was sometimes. In the morning when I was getting ready to come to set, I was just thinking, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m going to work and be with these people.’ It was bizarre! Just thinking, ‘Tomorrow I have a scene with Harrison Ford. Tomorrow I have a scene with Daniel Craig.’ When I was on set, I was okay, but just thinking about that, it’s so strange!
Was there anyone in particular you kept an eye on to learn from?
I think everyone. Sam was very interesting to work with, Harrison has all the experience and he knows how to work with the camera and Daniel, he’s a very secure guy. He has a lot of security about what does he want to do and I think Sam, he’s unexpected. You never know what he’s going to do and he’s a lot of fun to work with. He’s very very passionate about his work.
How was it filming something with so many visual effects? Have you had much experience trying to perform when so many element aren’t actually there?
I didn’t have that much experience. It was kind of really hard especially for one scene where for one shot I kind of saw everything; I saw horses and aliens and bombs and I saw the whole thing and then they turn around I had to act the same thing, but I wasn’t seeing any of that. So that was pretty difficult because I had to recreate everything that I’d just seen and I just react naturally and I just had to do it again, but with nothing in there. That was a little bit difficult.
What’s next? Are you shooting anything else soon?
I have two things in the works that I still can’t talk about for the beginning of next year. We are just dealing with the last things, but I still can’t talk about it. But I’m happy. I’m very very happy.
By Perri Nemiroff