From NBC Latino: Non-Latino Phil Austin Talks About Playing Latino VP in “Olympus Has Fallen”

Yesterday we got all huffy and puffy about the Hollywood fail regarding the casting of non-Latino Phil Austin as VP Charlie Rodriguez in the film “Olympus Has Fallen.”

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Today NBC Latino talked to Austin and even reached out to the people behind “Olympus Has Fallen.” Here is the what the story says:

“I read for several different parts in the film and then my agent called to tell me I had been cast for the vice president role,” Austin told NBC Latino of his supporting role. “I never read for it and I did wonder if they would change the character’s name. I’m straight up Caucasian and there was no attempt to play any sort of ethnic spin. The script did say Charlie or Charles Rodriguez, but the fact I wasn’t Hispanic was never discussed or brought up on set.”

“We do not have a comment at this time,” said a representative from “Olympus Has Fallen” domestic distributor Film District.

Austin says that in his experience, scripts with specific characters – say, a middle-aged Asian woman or blonde Caucasian male in his 30’s – often end up being cast entirely differently.

“It’s very common that actors will get cast for something that wasn’t initially in the script breakdown. It happens all the time,” says Austin, who ventured into acting in 2006 after a career in commercial real estate (“the kids were getting older and I told my wife I wanted to start something different,” he explains).

As Austin explains it, casting directors often will make decisions based on the chemistry between actors, rather than “the initial thoughts of the screen play.”

“I really don’t think it’s a slight against one ethnicity over another,” says Austin, whose on-screen credits include television shows like “Scandal” and “Breakout Kings,” as well as films like “The Host.”

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In the meantime, the blog of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) offered its take on the whole casting issue:

Latinos make up 25 percent of moviegoers even though they’re only 16 percent of the population. The average Latino moviegoer makes it to 5.3 movies a year, compared to 3.7 movies per year for African Americans and 3.5 movies per year for white moviegoers. Click here or here for more info.

The point is Hollywood is trying to reach this audience and make money off of them (it is the American way, now isn’t it?). The problem arises when Hollywood thinks they can throw a Rodríguez here or an Aguirre there and maintain the status quo with regards to casting. THAT WILL NOT WORK. We want and need to see OUR FACES on the big and small screen. It is a new day, o mejor dicho, es un nuevo día (more than 50% of the population of California consists of people of color) and Hollywood MUST change accordingly.

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