Movie Review: Raul Julia “The World’s a Stage” (Documentary)

Earlier this year, I had purchased a pass for LALIFF (Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival), which I only attended two screenings. After the El Paso shootings, I was afraid of leaving my house. I thought going to any place would get me killed simply due to my complexions. I was supposed to watch this documentary that weekend and decided to skip it along with the other 7 screenings I had planned for the rest of the festival. Sadly most of those films I’ll never get to watch, but this documentary is available to stream on PBS (you can go to their website and watch it).

I didn’t know much about Raul Julia before seeing this documentary. I was aware of his heritage and that he passed away too soon. This documentary interviews many Latinx/Hispanic actors who currently work in the industry and were influenced by Julia’s work. Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, Jimmy Smiths, Andy Garcia, John Leguizamo, Esai Morales, to name a few. His family, close friends, and co-workers were also interviewed. He was born in Puerto Rico to talented parents and at a young age was attracted to theater. I had no idea Raul loved Shakespeare and loved performing in theater. He refused to get rid of his accent and was proud of his heritage. He firmly believed that his background and experiences would only add a unique dynamic to his performances. Sadly being a Latinx/Hispanic actor in Hollywood was difficult since finding work outside of stereotypical roles was nearly impossible. These obstacles would only encourage Raul to continue working (he would often go back to the theater since he couldn’t find work in film). This film goes through the different plays Julia would star in, and one particular play that comes to mind is alongside a young Meryl Streep. The film Kiss of The Spider Woman (Babenco, 1985) would bring attention to Raul’s acting, and many believe he should’ve been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. More films would follow, and he would eventually land the role of Gomez Adams in the Addams Family movies. Anjelica Houston and Christina Ricci are interviewed providing some insight into Raul’s acting. I feel incredibly stupid for having no knowledge about his work before the Addams Family. The documentary goes into his personal life from how he met his wife to his involvement with his family (children). The movie inevitably continues to his last days and working in his last projects which would lead to his passing. This documentary is divided into 7 acts, and each act begins with a passage told from the guests being interviewed (honoring his passion for Shakespeare).

On this Hispanic Heritage Month, I’d like to shine a light on someone who paved the way for future Latinx/Hispanics in the theater (John Leguizamo, Lin-Manuel Miranda). A man whose life impacted others by being influential or working alongside them (Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, Rita Moreno, Benicio Del Toro). An actor who would perform lead roles (being unique and himself), although those roles were difficult to find. This month I’d like to pay tribute to the great Raul Julia. Please go see his documentary on PBS. I promise you’ll be nothing short of motivated and enlighten. If you do see it feel free to DM me and let us talk about it!

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