Edward James Olmos: editor in chief

Chat with veteran actor Edward James Olmos, and you’ll feel inspired. On screen he’s tough, but in the flesh, he’s charming, intelligent and passionate.

The 63-year-old Mexican actor is an activist in the Latino community and a defender of minorities. In the early ’90s, after the Rodney King riots, Olmos spearheaded efforts to rebuild Los Angeles. In 2001, he was arrested and spent almost a month in jail for protesting the U.S. Navy target practice in Veiques, Puerto Rico. He mentors and speaks to young people in prisons and high schools.

In The Green Hornet, Olmos plays a no-nonsense newspaper editor who helps Seth Rogen’s bad boy-turned-superhero. We chatted with the former Miami Vice lieutenant.

Did you watch the TV version of “Green Hornet”?

“No. I have never seen it. At the time, I was working seven days a week and putting myself through high school and college.”

What do you think of the movie?

“When the director [Michel Gondry] offered me the role, I looked at the script and thought, `This would be a lot of fun.’

You are known for your charity work with organizations like UNICEF, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the NAACP. Why is it important for people to give back?

“The more you give, the more you receive. I learned that a long time ago. Look at Mother Teresa, Gandhi. . . . They got back what they gave out.”

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

“Working as an anthropologist. I love to study human behavior and learning about where we come from, our culture. Evolution is more prolific because of computers and technology.”

Working with Seth Rogen must have been fun.

“Yes. It was hard. On set, we were all dying of laughter. The whole cast was talented.”

Do you think there are enough roles for Latinos in Hollywood?

“No. I’ve said this quite a bit. But the truth is that Latinos make up less than two percent [of screen presence] in TVs and motion pictures.”

What do you think of 3D movies?

“3D has always been with us, but now people are getting back into it. It’s also very hard to bootleg. That’s part of why you see it today.”

You first started out as a rocker. Do you still play?

“Yes. I have a great love for music and harmony. Music is the essence of human life. All of us are musical. Some realize that; some never do. But we all have our own rhythm and our own drummer. The key is to find it.”



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