Olmos, Phillips remember Jenni Rivera in film
This publicity photo provided by Pantelion Films shows Jenni Rivera as Maria Tonorio in a scene from the film, "Filly Brown." The film releases on April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Pantelion Films, John Castillo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jenni Rivera had other chances to act in films, but she chose to make her movie debut in "Filly Brown" simply because her close friend, Edward James Olmos, made the request. In fact, Rivera didn't even read the script when she agreed to portray a drug-addicted prisoner in the movie.
"I said, 'I need a favor from you, a big one,'" Olmos recalled. "She said, 'What is it?' I said, 'I need you to work with me on a film. I'll send you the script. Let me know if you like the story.' And she goes, 'Eddie, I'm dumbstruck with the understanding that you are asking me to do you a favor.'"
Rivera, a U.S.-born singer who became a huge star among Latin audiences, was killed in a plane crash last Dec. 9 in northern Mexico. "Filly Brown," which has its limited release on Friday, was her first and only film. It also stars Gina Rodriguez and Chrissie Fit as her daughters, and Lou Diamond Phillips as her husband. It was directed by Olmos' son, Michael D. Olmos, and Youssef Delara.
This publicity photo provided by Pantelion Films shows Lou Diamond Phillips in a scene from the film, "Filly Brown." The film releases on April 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Pantelion Films/Lionsgate, John Castillo)
Rodriguez warmly remembers working with Rivera — how apologetic she was when they would rehearse scenes where her character was mean-spirited.
"That was funny, like all the preparation we did for us to get on that set and for her to really, you know be a mother to me, but a mother that she is not used to being. So she really transformed that woman," said Rodriguez. "I am so proud of her performance. I am so blessed I got to work with that woman. I miss her every day. ... But now it's about celebrating that woman because that woman is and always will be fierce."
Both Olmos and Phillips were impressed by Rivera's acting.
"You may know Lou (Diamond Phillips) or you may know me and you are sitting there but you don't know anybody else," explained Olmos. "You are going to get your mind blown because they are brilliant performances. But then you find out this was the first time she ever touched the art form, and this is what she gave us. You could only imagine where she could have gone."