“La Bamba,” “NYPD Blue,” “Jericho” and “Burn Notice” are just a few of the films and TV series’ where Esai Morales has made his mark. Now he’s adding “Gun Hill Road” to that list— Morales’ latest film which deals with transgender and self-identity issues within the Latino community.
“I was blown away,” Morales told Fox News Latino about his reaction when he first read the script. “This is big. This is actually an important film and that’s what I was really drawn to.”
“I read a script that made me cry, that made me feel, that made me happy to be a human being,” Morales added.
“It deals, not with sexual orientation but with gender identity and its different. It’s not a choice. It’s something that people feel from the bottom of their hearts since they were very, very little.”
Though the film is a low-budget production and short-staffed project, Morales believes a very important message gets across to Latino men who need “the room and the space to accept their children who are different.”
“I think it makes you more of a man when you can accept the nature of your child,” said Morales. “A lot of parents nowadays they see their kids as a reflection of them, but … they are their own human beings. They are their own universe inside of their heads.”
Bringing his character “Enrique” to life was no easy task for Morales who emphasized that “It’s about getting the nuances.”
“The hardest part of stepping into character for me is [that] I’m a New York kid,” said Morales.
“I’m Brooklyn born, Bronx-bred, Queens-crucified, Manhattan-mainstream. That’s my schtick and I’m sticking to it. But I’ve been in California a long time.”
Morales said that at times he would turn “into New York Italian” but that the director, Ernesto Rashaad Green, would remind him to be “Bronx and New York City.”
“We use the language, the ‘papi’ & the ‘I got you.' It has a lot of 'Puerto Ricanism' and 'Latinoism,' he said.
"It is one of the most authentic Bronx movies I’ve ever seen.”
“Gun Hill Road” portrays Enrique as man who is desperately trying “to his fix his life” Morales said, adding that he “feels his manhood is under attack.”
"[He] is trying to reclaim his manhood as a man, as a father, as a husband," Morales said about Enrique, who finds himself out of jail and putting the pieces of his life back together, but “damages and traumatizes his child in the process.”
“My character does it out of love,” Morales said.
“We need to learn to love each other and respect each other in a way that it doesn’t crush each other’s dreams and identity.”