Anna Faris, Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria Talk ‘Overboard’ and Breaking Down Stereotypes

Remakes can always be hit or miss, but the winning team of stars Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris, a gender flip and a diverse cast make “Overboard,” a remake of the 1987 Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy of the same name, is fresher and more relevant than most. In this version, which Derbez, a superstar in his native Mexico who has found success in recent years in the United States and elsewhere, also co-produced, Faris takes over the Russell role as the down-and-out single parent, while Derbez plays a spoiled heir whom Faris convinces is her husband following his washing up on shore with no memory. Faris, Derbez, along with castmates Eva Longoria, Mel Rodriguez and Omar Chaparro, recently sat with Entertainment Voice to discuss the challenges in making a remaking, breaking down stereotypes, and the importance of representation.

While Faris and Derbez do not have the advantage Hawn and Russell had of being a real couple, their chemistry on screen and in-person is undeniable, something they said they experienced from their first meeting.

“I don’t know if you were familiar with my previous work, ‘Scary Movie 1’, ‘2,’ ‘3’ and ‘4;’ Not ‘5,’ too old,” joked Faris to Derbez, poking fun at the fact that she excluded from the latest installment of the spoof franchise that she helped make successful.

Derbez not was not only a fan of Faris’ previous work, but also saw her as the natural choice to fill the shoes of Hawn.

“I was in love with Goldie Hawn when I was I young,” he admitted.

Although he never met Hawn, Derbez confessed to spotting her in a Starbucks before filming and being too fearful to approach her.

“What if she gets mad?” He asked his wife in that moment. “What if she thinks I’m not going to be as handsome as Kurt Russell?… I didn’t have the guts to tell her.”

Faris, however, did have dinner with Hawn and Russell a year ago in London with Chris Pratt. The meal happened at Russell’s insistence after she met him at a press event. She admitted to being extremely apprehensive before and during the outing.

“He said, ‘I hear your doing out movie.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, God. What is this? Is this, like, the most terrifying dinner?’ The way he presented it, it felt like I have my work cut out for me, I guess.”

To Faris’ relief, Russell and Hawn gave their blessing by the meal’s end, even picking up the check. Even with this stamp of approval, remaking a film that is beloved to many was challenging.

“It’s tricky when you’re doing a remake, because you want to keep as much as possible from the original movie, because that’s why you’re doing the remake, because you love that movie, but at the same time, you try to do something different to make it fresh and different,” explained Derbez. “I’ve seen movies where they go far from the original and it ends up being something messy that is not exactly what [they] wanted to do. It’s hard.”

Added Faris, “There had to be a progression, because comedy is constantly changing and updating itself. I think what you guys brought to the table, initially, was the idea of flipping stereotypes a bit. I really loved that. It’s such a gratifying element. I’m really proud to be a part of a movie that does that.”

Derbez admitted that “Overboard” wasn’t the first film he thought about remaking. He initially had his sights set on a certain Peter Sellers classic.

“The first movie I wanted to remake was ‘Being There,’” he recalled. “But everyone was like, the same with this one, ‘It’s a classic, don’t touch that one because it’s really risky.’ Let’s see what happens with this one, and I’ll see someday.”

Once he decided on “Overboard,” he said that the natural thing would have been for him to step into Russell’s role was the carpenter, but decided to go in a different direction.

“Flipping the roles was interesting, because we were breaking down stereotypes,” he said. “[Hollywood] always offered me the same roles. ‘You’re going to be a gardener, you’re going to be the cook, the valet, the criminal or the drug lord or whatever…’”

When it came to the supporting characters, diversity was important, as even amongst the Hispanics actors there were performers representing a variety of Latin American countries.

“That’s the real America,” said Derbez. “If you go right now into any store, you’re going to find a Cuban, a Mexican, a Chinese. That’s America. You don’t find that in Mexico. In Mexico, you walk into any place and there’s just Mexicans and Mexicans everywhere. Here, you find this diversity… I don’t want to forget about my people. I’m very conscious that I’m here right now, here in this industry, because of the support I got from my people. They’re the ones who fill the theaters and make these box officer numbers. I’m really grateful and that’s why I try always to include, when I can and when it’s organic, some Spanish and Latinos in the cast.”

Eva Longoria, who co-stars as Faris’ best friend who eggs her on as she scams Derbez’s character, spoke at length about the importance of Latino representation.

“Underrepresentation is a big problem, and that stems from not having enough Latinos behind the camera – Directors, producers, writers. We can’t just sit and wait,” said the actress, who executive produced two series with predominately Hispanic casts, “Devious Maids” and “Telenovela.” “We got lucky with these roles that were written perfect for us, but other than that, you can’t just wait for the role to be written. I know, for me, that’s why I went behind the camera, because I wanted to create those roles, I wanted to create those stories and opportunities.”

Longoria and Mel Rodriguez, a Cuban-American actor who currently co-stars on “The Last Man on Earth,” were in agreement that one does not need to be Latino to relate to “Overboard” and their characters.

“These themes are universal, explained Rodriguez. “[Our characters] happen to be hella Latino, but they’re also a couple who are small business owners who are really trying to live the American dream.”

Many of the actors knew each other before filming, particularly Derbez and the men who played his co-workers at Rodriguez’s character’s construction company.  This off-screen camaraderie translated well onto the big screen.

“We tried to deliver that to the scenes to make it very natural,” said Chaparro. “Eugenio was really open with us changing a little bit of the script to make it more natural. We improvised a little.”

Playing Theresa, who is something of a schemer, was Longoria reminded of her “Desperate Housewives” character, crafty model-turned-wife and mother Gabby Solis? Not at all, according to her.

“Gabby is very selfish and rich. Theresa’s not. She’s very giving and obviously a blue collar, maternal person… I think Theresa would hate a person like Gabby. Gabby was more like Eugenio’s character, who would be the antithesis of what she considers to be a good human being.”

Overboard” opens May 4 nationwide.