Today marks the finale of Hispanic Heritage Month and one of the biggest stars in the Latino community is Edward James Olmos. For decades he's made a name for himself starring in films like Stand and Deliver and Selena. His most recent project, The Devil Has a Name, alongside Kate Bosworth and David Strathairn brings him to Kern County. 23ABC sat down virtually with Olmos to chat about the film and how our agricultural landscapes set the scene.
“I loved it, and [the people of Kern County] treated us with such respect and kindness. I really appreciated being in Bakersfield and in that area,” Edward James Olmos, actor, and director of The Devil Has a Name said. “We were very fortunate to catch [the almond orchards] right at the time it was blossoming. We were very lucky.”
The Devil Has a Name is a fabricated version of a true story, and sometimes that can be just as wild as fiction. The film draws attention to actual poisonings of Central Valley farms by some corporate oil companies.
“The main problem, of course, is the greed: From the corporations of the world but also the oil industry and what it continues to go after,” Olmos explained. “It goes into the net present value understanding of life, which is, “if you make more money than it costs you to fight whatever it is you’re doing to the people or the land or whatever, then you continue doing it.”
For Edward James Olmos who directed and starred as “Santiago” in the film, this movie was about that pursuit of truth. But through his character’s friendship with the farmer wronged, Fred Stern (played by David Strathairn), he wanted the picture to feel more like a quote, “buddy movie” than Erin Brockovich.
“Some of the facts are very startling and very difficult to take, and that is why instead of making a movie that has the message hitting you over the head, I made a movie that entertains you and allows you to think about it,” Olmos said.
The star-studded cast includes Olmos, Strathairn Kate Bosworth, and Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Martin Sheen. The cast and crew spent a lot of time filming on a farm in Shafter and talking to local migrant workers. As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage month -- spending time in Kern County allowed Olmos to get closer to his roots.
“I’m Latino/Latinx and very proud of it. One of the major characters in the movie is Santiago, who I portray, and it’s a movie about what’s happening to us,” Olmos said. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be thought-provoked, you’ll be entertained, and all in all you’ll have a good time watching the film.”
The film will be released in theaters and on streaming services starting October 16.
Watch the full interview with Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner, Edward James Olmos below: