Edward James Olmos on the 20th Anniversary of 'Selena': 'I've Never Had a More Difficult Film' (Exclusive)
By Deidre Behar
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It’s been 20 years since Edward James Olmos garnered critical acclaim for playing the role of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla’s father, Abraham, in the singer's posthumous biopic, Selena.
ET spoke with the actor on Thursday at the Eva Longoria Foundation’s Annual Dinner in Beverly Hills, where he reflected on his experience making the beloved classic film.
“It was the saddest movie I've ever filmed, to be honest with you. I've never had a more difficult film to film,” Olmos lamented. “It was too close to the time when she was actually killed, it was only 13 months after when we were filming. Nobody wanted to film it, the parents didn't, we didn't, nobody wanted to. We'd rather she be alive. But we had to."
Olmos explained that, at the time, there were several unauthorized films, documentaries and books in the works, centered around the singer’s life and untimely death. “The family took it upon themselves to tell the story, so they got myself and [director] Gregory Nava and [producer] Moctesuma Esparza and Warner Brothers and we all got together and did the movie.”
The film is full of memorable quotes. The 70-year-old Oscar nominee gushed that fans still approach him to this day to discuss the movie, specifically, the scene where Selena and her brother, A.B., try to convince their dad that they’re ready to perform in Monterrey, Mexico.
“'It's hard to be a Mexican-American!'” Olmos recalled, laughing. “The little plight of what we said inside of the car has been resonated throughout, you know, especially amongst Mexican-Americans.”
Olmos, a Mexican-American himself, opened up to ET during Hispanic Heritage Month, and praised his longtime pal Eva Longoria for her philanthropic work giving back to Latinas.
“I'm just proud of my culture… There wasn't enough of us at the very beginning. When I started, 50 years ago, there was no one, not doing this at least… Everything that Eva has done has been immense and I really appreciate her from the bottom of my heart,” he marveled.
Olmos also weighed in on the recent allegations of three decades of sexual harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein. He described the claims as “putrid” and elaborated, “It's difficult to take. I'm grateful that people are having the courage to understand their lives.”
Longoria and her former Desperate Housewives co-star Felicity Huffman also shared their opinions on the scandal on the red carpet at the event. Watch the video below to see more.