The "Cantinflas" movie had its star-studded Hollywood premiere this week at the iconic Chinese Theatre. A fitting location, as it is there where Mario Moreno “Cantinflas,” the beloved Mexican actor, producer and screenwriter, left his hand and footprints more than 50 years ago.
Among those attending were celebrities Zoe Saldaña and Danny Trejo, as well as Mario Moreno's only son and his two grandchildren.
The title role is played by Spanish actor Oscar Jaenada, under the direction of Mexican filmmaker Sebastian del Amo.
"[Cantinflas] was the one that opened the path for us," Jaenada told Fox News Latino, describing him as a pioneer.
The biopic, which hits U.S. theaters Friday, takes the audience to Moreno's humble beginnings in show business, from an itinerant performer in a traveling tent show to a prolific film career that spanned six decades and more than 50 films.
"Around the World in Eighty Days" (1956) received five Academy Awards in 1956, including Best Picture, and three Golden Globes, including Best Actor in a comedy.
"He was the Latin American Charles Chaplin," said Jaenada, who previously appeared on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “The Losers.” "He had nothing and nobody but himself and he made such a beautiful path," he added.
The film also explores Mario Moreno's personal life and inner demons. It was an 81-years-long life filled with constant struggles in his marriage to remain faithful and the pain of not being able to conceive a biological child with his wife — he fathered his only son, Mario Arturo Moreno Ivanova, out of wedlock.
In order to prepare for his role, Jaenada said he talked to people that were close to him when he was alive.
"I had to [ask] a lot of questions, a lot of uncomfortable questions to his family, to his friends, to his partners," Jaenada said. "It was tough because the questions weren't polite."
Jaenada said Mario Moreno was a very private man, making certain scenes difficult to prepare for.
"[For the scenes on which] he's looking at himself in the mirror, or [is] in his bedroom or his kitchen at home with his wife, I wanted to find things that nobody knows. And that was tough, the complexity of this character."
The movie also gives the audience a glimpse of Mario's passion for political activism and the difficult decisions he made to remain true to himself, to not let the character of Cantinflas completely absorb him.
Mario Moreno achievement in Hollywood was a feat many Mexican actors struggle to accomplish even today. According to Jaenada, many Latinos are now in Hollywood because Cantinflas paved the way. "He was the first one, he made the difference."
"Cantinflas," which is in Spanish and English with English subtitles, is co-starred by Barbara Mori, in the role of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Imperioli and Ana Layevska.