ENTERTAINMENT

Michael Peña's 'The Vatican Tapes' has two things Latinos love: horror and religion

Michael Peña talks about filming in a mental hospital for "The Vatican Tapes."

 

Michael Peña is one of the most in-demand Latino actors in Hollywood. Last year alone, he starred in "Frontera" with Eva Longoria, "Fury" with Brad Pitt and played legendary activist Cesar Chavez in the biographical drama "Chavez."

But despite all of his success, Peña told Fox News Latino he still doesn’t feel he’s "made it."

"It’s always a struggle you have to fight for all these different roles,” he said, adding that Hollywood is a challenging, tough business.

In his new project, the horror movie "The Vatican Tapes" out July 24th, Peña plays Father Lozano, a priest trying to help a young woman possessed by a diabolical entity.

He said filming included some eerie experiences from the afterlife.

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“We were shooting in a mental ward and there were always these little noises,” he said. "We had no idea what they were.” 

This is Peña’s first horror movie, and he said that one of the reasons he was attracted to the role was because he knows this genre attracts huge Latino audiences.

“In the Jennifer Lawrence horror movie, half of Latinos went to go see that,” he said, referring to the 2012 thriller "House at the End of the Street." 

"[It] inspired me to look for a cool horror movie,” he added.

"The Vatican Tapes" follows the gradual possession of Angela Holmes, a 27-year-old woman played by actress Olivia Taylor Dudley. When Angela begins to show signs that an evil spirit has taken over her soul, the Vatican is called on to exorcise the demon and Father Lozano (Peña) takes on the task of waging war with the diabolical entity to save her and also save the world as we know it.

“This, I think, was perfect because a lot of Latinos grew up Catholic or in very religious households and I think that's why we gravitate toward this kind of movie,” Peña said.

The 39-year-old actor said he likes playing a wide range of characters so that Latinos can see more versions of themselves on screen.

“I remember like watching Edward James Olmos [play] a teacher in calculus, and that's kind of inspiring to kids to people of Latino descent," he said, adding, "I remember in high school I took up calculus, it was a big motivator for me, so maybe who knows I can inspire some people," he noted.

Peña has had a career many actors could only dream of. He has been in films with both box office and critical success, such as the Oscar-winning "Crash," and he also has had a wide range of experience working with award-winning directors.

But it's his work in Marvel's "Ant Man," out in theaters now, that makes his six-year-old son really proud of good old dad.

“It's got a great tone for kids as well, it's not super dark,” Peña said. "I was like 'OK, good, I want to be my kids' hero hopefully'."

Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso

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