‘Father of the Bride’: Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta on the Quirks of Love and Latinidad
For actors Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta, getting to star in “Father of the Bride” was about much more than re-telling a classic story. To them, this is a chance to use a popular genre to break stereotypes and expand representation. The HBO Max movie is the latest reimagining of the famous tale of a dad unwilling to accept how his daughter wants to leave the nest. Edward Streeter’s 1949 novel was first adapted for the screen in 1950, but it’s the 1991 version starring Steve Martin most film watchers remember. Mexican director Gary Alazraki transfers the premise over to contemporary Miami and the city’s Cuban-American community. Andy Garcia is Billy Herrera, an architect proud of his Cuban origins and success in the United States. His marriage to Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) is falling apart, as does his whole world when beloved daughter Sofia (Arjona) announces she’s engaged to Adan (Boneta), a very modern Mexican man. Billy can’t process how his apparent son-in-law not only dislikes sports, but was proposed to by Sofia! Even more troubling for the Cuban boomer is that Sofia and Adan plan to move away to Mexico City and work for a nonprofit.
Both Arjona and Boneta are well-matched onscreen with essential romcom chemistry. More importantly, the movie uses the genre to touch on rare themes of class and tradition within Latino communities. Billy wants a Cuban orchestra at the wedding. Adan’s wealthy family wants mariachis. And can Cuban and Mexican cuisines go well together? It’s a wonderful defiance of the brushstrokes Hollywood has typically used with Latino characters. The actors are themselves a snapshot of the premise with Arjona being Puerto Rican and Boneta hailing from Mexico. Their trajectories are just as eclectic. Arjona has played roles in major productions such as “True Detective,” “Narcos” and this year’s “Irma Vep” on HBO. Boneta has appeared in some pricey Hollywood productions like “Terminator: Dark Fate” and “Rock of Ages,” but it was his starring role as legendary Mexican crooner Luis Miguel in Netflix’s “Luis Miguel: The Series,” that made him an overnight heartthrob with Spanish-speaking audiences. Now Arjona and Boneta get to try out something lighter, though no less significant than their recent work. The pair sat down with Entertainment Voice to talk about the charms of “Father of the Bride,” tying the knot and the need for broader Latino representation in media.
Adria, “Father of the Bride” is of course a new interpretation of a well-known romantic comedy that was already made into two respected movies. What is it about this version that inspired you to take on the role?
Adria Arjona: When doing reimagining of such a classic what is more important is the script and angle. The questions they are really asking are, “Who is the bride in 2022?” What does that even mean now? I fell in love with the generational gaps and the gender roles and how the movie hides it within all the comedy. I’ve never seen in a Hollywood movie two Latin American families coming together and clashing, either. I like that it shows our differences while promoting we’re all human. For too long we’re represented in a way where we’re all one thing. Not too long ago I told someone I was Puerto Rican and they asked, “Is that in Argentina or are you Mexican?” I get that all the time!
There is a particular and special energy to the entire movie, particularly because of the vivacious acting from you and the rest of the very notable cast, such as Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan. How was the vibe on a set like this?
Adria Arjona: I knew Andy beforehand but I met Gloria on set. I had met Diego beforehand as well. I don’t know how we didn’t get tired of each other’s faces on set (laughs). We’d have lunch at everyone’s trailers. Then at night we’d all go out again. We still are kind of stuck. I see Diego all the time and speak with Andy all the time. You don’t get that often with making movies. I’m so grateful we all got along. That rarely happens, by the way. Actors tend to lie (laughs).
Diego, you’ve recently achieved renown for playing a Latin icon, Luis Miguel, on Netflix. In “Father of the Bride” you’re performing next to two Latin legends of equal stature, Andy and Gloria. Share with us about what that experience entailed.
Diego Boneta: Honestly, it was a total honor because they paved the way for so many of us. We had so much fun and became like a real family. We would hang out constantly when we weren’t shooting. I’ve known Gloria for years. She was the table reading for another movie I did years ago, the musical “Rock of Ages.” She had no idea I was Mexican because I was playing some rocker guy from Detroit. I remember her going, “Wait, you’re Mexican?” Now I call her my “suegra” or mother-in-law because of this movie, but she’s always been someone I adore.
Adan is very different from the stereotypical Latin “leading man.” He’s nothing like your role as a superstar crooner in “Luis Miguel.” How much would you say you have in common with this character?
Diego Boneta: He’s different because he’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. He adores his fiancé, wants to support her and be there for her. It’s very different from Luis Miguel, which is why I loved the character so much. It’s more about how a modern man is today. There’s a fresh take on masculinity in this movie where you have Billy who is very set in his ways, very traditional. Adan is the complete opposite. He’s into yoga and surfing and works for a nonprofit (laughs). When it comes to our similarities I am a total feminist. I grew up with very strong independent women in my life. I would say I am more similar to Adan than Luis Miguel in that sense. There are certain traditions that I like. I’m still old-school with certain things. I would definitely be the one proposing (laughs). I wouldn’t be proposed to. But I’m all about supporting my partner and being vulnerable and sensitive.
Adria, much of the movie revolves around planning a wedding. Unlike Diego, you yourself have actually tied the knot. Did your wedding planning go as smoothly as in this movie?
Adria Arjona: I don’t think any bride can say it goes smoothly (laughs). You have to prepare yourself for almost anything. It definitely didn’t go as bad as in this movie, but you have those hiccups that also make it worthwhile in the end.
There’s this great mixture of Mexican and Caribbean culture in the story. The movie is about both cultures butting heads, but how did bringing both together affect life on set and your choices as actors?
Adria Arjona: What was fun about that was how the Mexican and Cuban actors all took the lead on deciding what they wanted on set. The Mexicans decided what they wanted to cook for a scene and the Cubans did the same. Gloria, for example, wanted the Cuban dish ropa vieja. The jokes you see about Cuban coffee and having Vicks VapoRub. That was all contributed by the actors. We all listen to different types of music and the slang was all different. I actually grew up in Mexico and in Miami, so I know both cultures very, very well. So I felt like the middle one who understood both groups very well. I know Mexican and Cuban slang well. It was like a learning experience for the Mexicans and Cuban-Americans.
Diego, you’re originally from Mexico. What’s something about Cuban culture that stayed with you after the cameras stopped rolling?
Diego Boneta: Man, the music and the food. I love salsa music. I’m a big fan of dancing. I loved the food, like ropa vieja.
You have also not walked down the aisle as of yet. Has interpreting one of the most well-known comedies about tying the knot made you ponder the question of settling down?
Diego Boneta: No (laughs). Right now I’m in a relationship and am very happy. But when it comes to settling down everything comes at its time. I don’t want to rush anything and just be living in the moment.
Adria, “Father of the Bride” is about more than just marriage. It’s also about the generational schisms within a community, in this case Latinos. What do you hope young Latino viewers and older audience members get out of this story?
Adria Arjona: I think for the boomers I hope the movie opens their eyes that it’s time to let go and evolve. It’s time to accept the changes happening in our world and it’s ok. For the younger generation I would then say it’s important to conserve our language and culture. It’s ok to do things a little differently but it’s important not to forget where we come from. It’s also important to venture out and say, “I want to discover who I am.” Do you. Don’t let the boomers hold you back. Have patience (laughs).
This year we’ve also seen you in Olivier Assayas’s “Irma Vep” on HBO and you’re also going to be in the new “Star Wars” series, “Andor.” What can we expect from you in that highly anticipated show?
Adria Arjona: The fun part of being an actor is being able to play around. I’m grateful I haven’t been cornered in one genre. It keeps me growing. I jumped from the “Father of the Bride” set to “Irma Vep.” That was interesting because it’s a completely different character. I’m so excited for people to watch it because it’s incredibly cool. It’s an auteur’s show. For “Andor” you can expect another different switch to a kind of character people have never seen me play before. And I think that’s all I can say! I’m sorry I can’t say anything, and I’m so bad at keeping secrets.
And finally, Diego, you are also staying busy with some projects slated to be completed soon. What can we expect from you next?
Diego Boneta: I just produced a small movie, “At Midnight,” for Paramount through my company, Three Amigos. It’s a romantic comedy and it’s very special because it’s the first one I’m producing through my company, with my sister. Being able to shoot that with my family and friends, there’s nothing better than that. It’s coming out later on Paramount Plus. I also just signed an overall deal with Amazon Prime Video. We’ve got a lot of projects under development. That’s very exciting. It’s a whole new chapter in my life.
“Father of the Bride” begins streaming June 16 on HBO Max.