It's an exciting week for Blu-Ray releases, as the hit western movie The Magnificent Seven hits shelves on Tuesday. The new take on the 1960 classic was directed by Antoine Fuqua, and was a great box office success.
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, one of the film's stars, took some time to speak with ComicBook.com about his experiences on the set, and what it was like to play Vasquez.
We first asked Garcia-Rulfo what is was like working on set for such an acclaimed director like Antoine Fuqua.
Manuel: It was a good. I really enjoyed his films and his work. I think he's just a great director. It was such a great experience to work with him because he's one of those directors that you do the work prior to shooting the film and you talk about the character and all that. Once you start shooting, he just leaves you alone. He gives you a lot of freedom as an actor. I remember him saying, 'Manuel, I want you to choose the set of guns you want to use, the kind of wardrobe you want to use. I want you to build the character as you see it, as unique as you want it to be.' As an actor, you appreciate that, when the director gives you that kind of freedom.
When you're shooting with him, he's such a cool director. He really is very chill and he loves action and he's great shooting action sequences. You come with choices. Like, 'Antoine, what do you think if I come flying from the window and then I start shooting?' 'Yeah, yeah. I love it, I love it.' He loves that kind of stuff. It was a really cool experience.
You got to be face to face, shoulder to shoulder with Denzel Washington, one of the best in the business. One of the best of all time. What was that experience like, working with an actor of such grandiose history?
I admire his work. I know his work. I think I've seen all his movies. I admire him a lot and I was very nervous, actually, at the beginning because my first scene was with him. I was very nervous. Once you start doing the scene, acting the scene, it's going to sound cheesy but he's so good that you kind of forget that you're looking at Denzel and you start looking at his character. It's easy to act with actors like that. They're so good you just have to react to them. You have to listen and they'll take you. He's such a good actor, man, like you said. I was so lucky and so blessed to work with him, to share credits and share scenes with him, with Ethan Hawke, with Vincent D'Onofrio. I think I was very blessed, man.
I'm sure that was a pretty long shoot. Do you have any favorite moments on set? Anything that comes up when you think about the process of making that movie?
We were there five months. We shot in Louisiana in the summer, so it was hell. It was hot as hell, but it was so fun every day. Denzel and everybody, we came every day and we were like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe we're doing a western.' But I think for me, every time we used horses and then you're shooting guns and all that, that was my favorite part.
Looking up some of your previous work, you had a big transition into this role. You got to play the hero which didn't exactly start that way, but coming from Dusk 'til Dawn, being pretty ruthless on there to riding off in the sunset in Magnificent Seven, what was that transition like for you?
I never thought about that. Every project is just different. As an actor myself, I try to do things that try to always ... How do you say this? To challenge. That's the word. To do characters and to pick characters that challenge you. Definitely, when I was doing From Dusk 'Til Dawn, there was a character that, for me ... Because I don't see myself a very dark guy. It's hard for me to go to those places.
Looking forward, I was looking at some of your upcoming credits. You're working with James Franco coming up? You have or you're about to, for this LA series?
I did that. He directed this pilot. He produced and directed a pilot called LA Series. We did this two years ago. No, like a year and a half ago. I'm not sure what's happening. I'm not sure, I think they were still trying to sell it, put it together and all that. But yeah, we did that. It's just a pilot.
What was that experience like? It's some gang-related content there. What was that all about?
Yeah. It's funny because it has a cartel kind of thing. Gangsters, Latino thing in LA. I played the son of the head of the cartel. It's kind of like the good son. I'm not playing any villain or any cartel thing. It's just cool.
Working on Magnificent Seven, instead of just having a script, instead of just having words to go off of, you had a really acclaimed and celebrated film that came ahead that you guys were trying to honor and to even improve on. What was that challenge like, taking that mindset of wanting to make sure you honor the original while still making something creative and great?
Yeah. To be honest, me, personally, we tried to top that as a group when we had a lot of readings and talks, the actors with Antoine and everything. We tried to make our own film. Antoine wanted to make his film. He knew it was going to be called Magnificent Seven, of course, but he wanted to just do his own, put his stamp on his film.
I think if you start going, "Oh, how can I do justice to this movie?" I don't think that's a creative way of doing things, I think. I think you come up with your own thing, and I think we did that. I think as the character, as the actors, and the director, the writer, I think we all did our own film, even though it's called Magnificent Seven. Of course you have the DNA of the original and of Kurosawa's film, the Seven Samurai, of course. I think it's a new film.
Was there anything in particular that you wanted to bring to your character to make it unique, to make it your own?
Yeah. There was a lot of things. One of them was the language, because sometimes I'm talking Spanish. I have some lines, some words in Spanish, and the way it was written, it wasn't really good. It wasn't very unique, so Antoine told me, 'Manuel, whatever you think, I don't even understand what you're saying. I'll just trust.' That was one of the things.
That's awesome. I've got two quick questions before I let you go. Just real quick one, not counting Vasquez, who was your favorite character of the Seven?
Billy Rocks, yeah. Him or Vincent D'Onofrio.
That was a lot of fun to watch.
Yeah. Right? He was like this teddy bear, and you went to [talk to him 00:12:47] and you can't fuck with the guy. Yeah. He never said anything. He put this kind of weird voice into his character, and he didn't say anything. The first day of shooting, he started talking with everybody. It was like, "What the fuck?" and you're like, "Oh, my God. This guy is such a good actor."
The Magnificent Seven is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD. Pick up your copy today!