Andy Garcia faces an impending mid-life crisis and falls in love, while taking his son on a college campus tour in the romantic comedy "At Middleton," which hits theaters Friday.
Garcia not only stars in the movie, but his company, CineSon Entertainment, produced it as well. To boot, Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga plays his leading lady.
"I was hoping to get a Vera Farmiga type of person, but I got better, I got Vera Farmiga!" Garcia told Fox News Latino, adding: “[She] is one of the great actresses of our generation."
Garcia's character is heart surgeon George Hartman, while Farmiga plays free-spirited Edith Martin. Both are parents taking their respective children on a campus tour.
Although they’re strangers, George and Edith decide to play hooky from their kids' orientation, and go on their own journey of self-discovery. The story develops in one eventful day, where they come to terms with the fact they lack a meaningful connection with their children but embrace the unexpected love they find for each other.
"It puts in question where they're at in their other reality," said Garcia. "The fun they are having, they turn into children themselves almost like they're in college and it’s their first love."
Once off the grid of the tour, we follow the budding couple having college-like experiences of their own, like smoking pot with a quirky college student and randomly dropping in a drama class, where they perform an impromptu scene for the students.
To create the fictional town of Middleton, the movie was shot in Washington at both Gonzaga College and Washington State University. It was a tight-knit crew, and the movie turned into a family affair as relatives joined the cast. Taissa Farmiga (of "American Horror Story"), who is Vera Farmiga’s real-life sister, plays her daughter Audrey, while Garcia's 25-year-old daughter Daniella Garcia-Lorido plays Daphne, a Middleton student George and Edith meet when they sneak into the school’s film projection room.
Realizing they're kindred spirits, Edith and Dr. Hartman seem to fall in love and begin to ponder their respective marriages.
"At the end of the day they declare their love to one another, but the day is over and they have to make a decision as to what to do about it and that’s the most powerful thing in the movie," said Garcia.
That's a scenario that the 58-year-old actor doesn't have to face in real life. Garcia’s marriage to wife Marivi Lorido Garcia is holding strong after 32 years. But it's the movie's tag line that reads 'one day can change everything' that strikes a chord for him personally, as he admitted he proposed to his wife the moment he laid eyes on her.
"It wasn't even a date, it was just an encounter," Garcia quipped.
Married in 1982, before he hit it big in Hollywood, his wife stuck by his side through feast and famine. He told us that in the beginning of his career, as a Latino actor, he faced major challenges.
“I came to Los Angeles to look for work in '78, I experienced stereotyping because of my last name, and people not seeing past that."
Garcia's career has been a long journey. In fact, he fought to play an Italian cop in 1987's "The Untouchables,” and since then he's played everything from Eastern European President Mikheil Saakashvili in “5 Days Of War,” to airline pilot Michael Green alongside Meg Ryan in "When A Man Loves A Woman."
Even then, Garcia knew he was breaking the mold. “Sure, I was aware of that because I was a victim of stereotype myself, it was very difficult to get work when I arrived, that movie [When a Man Loves a Woman) was done in '94."
Garcia created his own production company, Cineson Entertainment, in the late 1990s, and since then, he has produced both mainstream and Latino-themed movies including 1999's "Just the Ticket" starring Andie MacDowell, the critically acclaimed "City Island" (2009), and this years "At Middleton."
Having control behind the camera, Garcia said, definitely gives minority actors a chance to shine.
“It’s the nature of it, luckily with time there has been greater opportunities for people not to stereotype as much, its opened up quite a bit, its not gone completely but it has opened up, there is more opportunity out there, they're writing more parts, diverse characters for any ethnic minority to play."
"At Middleton" hits theaters Friday and will be available on OnDemand and iTunes the same day.
Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso