IFH 483: Exploring the Actor’s Process – Inside His Greatest Roles with Edward James Olmos

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Our guest today is 80s star, multiple-awards film, and theater actor, and activist, Edward James Olmos.

Olmos’s roles in films or TV shows like Stand and DeliverBattlestar Galactica, broadway musical and film Zoot SuitBlade Runner as detective Gaff, and many others are some of the most memorable of all time and he’s still dominating our screens.

While I could not resist talking about his iconic roles over several decades, we mainly discussed Olmos’ new must-see film, Chasing Wonders.

The picturesque Australian/British drama was the official selection at the Adelaide film festival in 2020. The beautiful cinematography of the film was shot over a five years period to authentically capture the coming of age story by screenwriterJudy MorrisChasing Wonders is a story of hope, possibility adventure, and overcoming your past – a heart-warming story of a young boy, who, encouraged by his grandfather (Olmos) to live a life of hope and possibility, takes off on the adventure of a lifetime to find the magical Emu Plains. His journey through the lush landscapes of Australia and Spain leads him to the heart of the human condition – learning to acknowledge the complexity of what comes before us but struggling not to be defined by the past.

The Hollywood Walk of Famer earned an Academy nomination for Best Actor in the 1988 drama, Stand and Deliver. He gave a stellar lead performance as Bolivian- American educator Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutiérrez.

Olmos filmography is quite extensive. Literally, the man has stayed booked and busy since 1974. He’s appeared in over 130 films, TV shows, and plays.

One of his outstanding roles is perhaps,  Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the Miami Vice (1984) as a series regular. A fan-favorite for sure.

But if we do talk about Lieutenant Castillo we must mention Olmos’ role as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner (1982) and a brief reprise in the sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Gaff is the Los Angeles police officer who detains and escorts Deckard (Harrison Ford) throughout his mission as a ‘Blade Runner’ to track down bioengineered humanoids known as replicants and terminally “retire” them.

Olmos showed the world his versatility in both the Broadway play and film adaptation of the musical comedy, Zoot Suit. The story weaves the real-life events of the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial – resulting in the racially fueled Zoot Suit Riots throughout Los Angeles. Olmos portrays El Pachuco, an idealized Zoot Suiter, who functions as narrator throughout the story and serves as Henry’s conscience in both adaptations.

Honestly, I could go on and on down Olmos’ filmography, but we can’t spotlight all of his other spectacular films right now. So, let’s get into this interview, shall we?

Don’t forget to click the links in the show notes to watch Chasing Wonders.

Enjoy my epic conversation with Edward James Olmos.

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