Actor Maximiliano Hernandez has made it a point not to take roles that are stereotypes of Latinos after playing the same shady characters for so many years.
He even quit acting for two years in “protest.”
It seems surprising, then, to see him as a crooked Mexican police officer working with drug cartels in “Sicario.”
But for the 42-year-old New York-born actor, there is a much deeper story that the character of Silvio tells that goes well above any stereotype.
“I want the work to be a representation of who I am. I remember reading the script and thinking ‘he has heart’ and that's what stuck out to me,” Hernandez told Fox News Latino recently. “I didn’t see it as a stereotype but instead a powerful storyline that the audience needs to feel.”
Hernandez plays Silvio, a Mexican police officer in Tijuana, who the audience is led to suspect is involved in the drug cartel dealings in his town. Hernandez strives to keep his young son away from that world.
“Silvio is the face of the people,” Hernandez said. “He shows why these people decide to make the trek to the U.S. … Silvio is an example of a person caught up in the cards he was dealt.”
He added: “To me, without Silvio, this would just be a war movie because he is the heart of the people who have to live in the violence.”
The Honduran-American actor said it was Silvio’s struggle to keep the truth of his involvement with the drug cartels from his son that attracted him to the film – even if it seemed like just the type of stereotypical role he tries to avoid.
“This guy never stops working. He doesn’t have a day off,” Hernandez told FNL. “It’s ‘you get up and do it again’ every day, never having a metal break…. I loved the scenes of him staying playful with his son while knowing the traps he has to work with.”
“Sicario,” which hit theaters last month, offers a “brutal outside view of what’s going on at the border,” Hernandez said.
“It shows the failure of the war on drugs,” he added.
In a pivotal scene in the film, Silvio is kidnapped by Benicio del Toro’s hitman Alejandro.
Hernandez could only praise his co-star, saying that the Puerto Rican actor showed so much pain in his performance that it is understandable why he was searching for relief.
“We had a fear that (the film) could be seen as racist, but it’s actually perfect, it’s jarring,” Hernandez said. “'Sicario’ is not a characterization of Latinos, but a good representation of what’s going on.”
The actor said he believes the filmmakers and cast treated the story and “brutal” aspects of many parts of Mexico with respect.
“This movie could have been about a drug turf in San Pedro Sula or in parts of Brazil,” Hernandez said. “There are people in the world who make a profit on others' misery.”